Samurai Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to teach students about Samurais. Students will watch an educational video describing 12th century Japanese military culture and the role of the samurai, then apply concepts to a fun activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'samurai'
  • explain Japanese military culture of the 12th century
  • discuss samurai culture

Length:

1 hour

Materials

  • Copies of the lesson quiz, one for each student
  • Images of samurai from the 12th century
  • Rice paper
  • Paint brushes
  • Black paint

Key Vocabulary

  • Samurai
  • Shogun
  • Shogunate
  • Kamakura
  • Bushido

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3

Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

Instructions

  • Connect students to the topic by asking them to discuss the following terms with a table partner: frugality, loyalty, honor unto death, and mastery of martial arts.
  • Listen in to conversations and notice how students are handling the key ideas. Bring the class together for a whole-group conversation, building on students' thoughts and ideas.
  • Tell students these ideas were a code for the samurai. Discuss prior knowledge of samurai, preview vocabulary, then start the video lesson Japanese Military Society & Samurais in the 12th Century.
  • Pause at 0:44 and show students images of samurai from the 12th century, giving students time to react and discuss.
  • Resume the lesson and pause at 1:59. Discuss:
    • What does the term 'Sei-i Taishogun' mean?
    • Why did the emperor appoint shoguns?
    • What is a shogunate?
    • How was a shogunate established?
    • Why were shogunates established?
    • What is Minamoto's role in the development of the samurai?
  • Restart the lesson and pause again at 4:04. Have students answer the following questions in small groups, then discuss as a class:
    • How did the samurai become a powerful social class?
    • What does it mean to live by 'Bushido?'
    • What does it mean that the Bushido code 'balanced the violent life of a warrior with the wisdom and peace of a monk?'
  • Play the lesson summary and allow students to ask any remaining questions before administering the lesson quiz to check student comprehension.

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