The Alphabet of Culture
Instructor: Julie Black
Workshop: The Cross Cultural Classroom/ International Foods
Targeted Grade Level(s): 6-8th grade (Can be tailored for younger or older students by adjusting the
Content Area(s) Covered: Social Studies
Students will build an understanding of the relationship of cultural components by creating their own
culture using the existing culture as a model. The project can be split into two separate lesson plans -
Researching the existing culture and creating a culture as two plans. International Foods are examined as
a culture lunch at the end of the project.
Anticipated Duration: 1 month (This can be shortened by changing parameters of the project.)
Rationale: To help students ask and answer the questions: What is culture? Why are there different
cultures? How are other cultures different and similar to my own culture?
1. Students will be able to discuss and reference components of culture by being introduced to the
vocabulary of culture.
2. Students will research a global culture following teacher-created guidelines and break the culture
into small sections. The students will then link the sections and find the influences that each
component of culture has on another component. For example the relationship between religion
and government, geography and language, or historical events and holidays.
3. Students will create their own culture using the same guidelines and demonstrate the influence and
relationship between culture components.
4. Students will prepare an oral presentation with a visual aide depicting each cultural component
5. Each Student will prepare a dish to share with the class either from the culture they researched or
the culture they create for the culture lunch at the end of the project.
Sunshine State Standards:
SS.A.2.3.1: The student understands how language, ideas, and institutions of one culture can influence
other (e.g., through trade, exploration, and immigration).
SS.A.2.3.4: The student understands the impact of geographical factors on the historical development of
SS.A.2.3.6: The student knows the major events that shaped the development of various cultures (e.g., the
spread of agrarian societies, population movements, technological and cultural innovation, and the
emergence of new population centers).
SS.A.3.3.1: The student understands ways in which cultural characteristics have been transmitted from
one society to another (e.g., through art, architecture, language, other artifacts, traditions, beliefs, values,
SS.A.3.3.2: The student understands the historical events that have shaped the development of cultures
throughout the world.
SS.B.1.3.3: The student knows the social, political, and economic divisions on Earth's surface.
SS.B.1.3.4: The student understands ways factors such as culture and technology influence the perception
ofplaces and regions.
SS.B.2.3.1: The student understands the patterns and processes of migration and diffusion throughout the
SS.B.2.3.3: The student understands ways cultures differ in their use of similar environments and
2. Pen or pencils
3. Access to Internet and Library for Research
4. Materials for visual aides (Power Point, CDR)
6. Poster Board
8. Pictures from magazines, hand drawn, or printed from Internet
1. Introduce the components of culture using the Iceberg model.
2. Students will be split into groups and introduced to the alphabet of culture. Students are given a
Vocabulary list in conjunction with the culture alphabet.
a. Alphabet of Culture: Culture Traits broken into the alphabet.
A= Appearance F= Food L = Leaders & government
B= Belief Systems G= Geography Etc...
C= Communication (language) H = Housing
D= Dates both historical and holiday J = Jobs
E = Entertainment & Art K= Knowledge/Education
It is not necessary to go to Z and the length of the project can be changed by lengthening or
shortening the list of traits researched. I also make a list of questions to be answered for each
culture trait. Questions for appearance encourage students to research traits specific to the culture.
Students are not allowed to report only that people in India wear jeans & t-shirts. They are
required to research culturally significant appearance traits. For example, women in Peru wear one
pony tail when they are single and two when they are married.
b. The Vocabulary required is a short list of words to help the student describe the components of
culture. Culture, Culture Trait, Culture Region, Acculturation, Diffusion, Ethnicity, Urban,
Rural, Tradition, Industry, Economy, Tolerance, Government, Monarchy, Communism,
3. Each group member is assigned to research three or four culture traits of an existing culture assigned
to the group and create the culture traits for the made up culture. The number of letters used in the
project is determined by the number of students in the class. Each group member should have an equal
number of traits to research. Students are required to turn in a bibliography of books, articles, and
internet sources used in the research.
4. Groups prepare an oral presentation to the class describing the findings of their research and their
created culture. Each member is required to present individual findings and prepare a visual aide to
support the presentation. Visual aides must only have visual representations and they are not allowed
to have more than a caption of text. Visual aides can be Power Point presentations or a collage poster
with visual representations of the culture traits.
5. At the end of the project students participate in a celebration by having a culture lunch. Each member
is required to bring a dish to share with the class from either the culture they researched or the culture
they created. Students will also submit a recipe card with their dish. The recipes are copied and
compiled into a cookbook for the students as a final gift for the project.
Assess the students at intervals throughout the project
Research Assessment: Students are required to look at ten different sources while researching for
the project. Final requirement for the bibliography is four different sources. A worksheet is
provided for them to use to fill out necessary information during their research. The worksheet is
evaluated and the sources are assessed.
Quiz on the vocabulary of culture traits. Students are required to define the traits on a study guide
and use the guide to prepare for the quiz.
Bibliography is due prior to presentation. The bibliography must be typed and in MLA format. (
We discuss and practice this earlier in the year)
Presentations are graded on both content and presentation skills. Students are graded individually
on the research and presentation of the culture traits assigned. A component of their grade is based
on participation with their group and in class. Students are allowed to use note cards during
presentations, but are not allowed to look at their posters or power point projects.
o Content evaluation is based on the depth of understanding the student provides. Students
are required to put all content information into their own words and to choose accessible
o Created cultures are assessed by the logic they present. Each culture trait must be related to
another culture trait in the project. Students must work together to ensure all culture traits
are interdependent in some way.
Recipes must be typed and turned in on the day of the lunch.
The project is a favorite for 6th grade students. It is ambitious and demanding for them. The project
could be split into three lesson plans and perhaps take less time. The most difficult aspect of the project
for students is the research. Students will often find sources of information that are too complicated or
have questionable validity. It is very important to be checking their progress regularly and helping them to
take complicated information and simplify.
As a teacher I enjoy the project, because it allows me to work with each student individually. I set
up meeting dates with each group and work with that group on the research. The students are very
engaged and enjoy the autonomy of the project. The created culture is lots of fun for the students and it
allows them to apply what they have learned about culture.
It is important to set boundaries with the created cultures. The students will sometimes try to use
favorite television characters or shows as a basis of their culture. I require them to create a culture from
their own imaginations. As with all group work, conflicts arise. Grading students individually helps
alleviate some of the stress, but I encourage the students to welcome the conflicts. I reassure them they do
not loose points for disagreeing, but they will loose points for inappropriate actions during the
disagreement. I am the mediator and we try to work out all the problems as a group. It also gives us an
opportunity to discuss conflict resolution skills.
The culture lunch is a little stressful and it is helpful to ask parents to come and participate in the
event. Students should sign up for the dishes they will bring that way the lunch does not just consist of
desserts from every culture studied.