What Is Culture? - Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

How would your students define culture? A video lesson explains key points while a research project allows students to delve deeper. Related lessons and extra activities are provided for ongoing instruction.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define culture and its components
  • identify personal cultural attributes
  • outline the culture of another nation


30 minutes for instruction and up to one week for the activity


  • Small slips of paper, each labeled with a different nation
  • A bowl or container

Curriculum Standards


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.


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).


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

Key Vocabulary

  • Culture
  • Material culture
  • Nonmaterial culture
  • Nation
  • Society


  • Begin by asking students to make a list of all the places they have visited.
  • Once all the students have completed their lists, have them add one thing to each place that was different from their home. Examples might include food, dress, language, etc. Discuss these as a class and write some key points about the differences experienced by the students on the board.
  • Now play the Study.com video lesson What Is Culture? - Material and Nonmaterial Culture, pausing at 1:14.
  • How does the information provided in the video relate to what they shared about the places they've visited? Discuss this as a class, reinforcing the idea of culture.
  • Now ask students to list the different cultural groups they are a part of based on the examples provided in the video lesson. Discuss these as a class. How do they impact and/or influence the student?
  • Play the rest of the video lesson now.
  • As the students are watching the video lesson, write the key terms with their definitions, as provided in the video lesson, on the board.

Discussion Questions

  • How does culture influence the behavior of individuals?
  • What can we do to honor our culture while respecting the cultures of others?

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