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Japan & Big Fish Stories Lesson Plan

Author: Tina Misaka

Year: 2015

Artform: Dance

Subjects: Social Studies

Grade: 2nd

Duration: 3-4 class periods - 45 minute each

Overview: Students learn about the culture and traditions of Japan, learning a Japanese fishing folk dance, and writing and dancing their own “Big Fish Tales” using the format of tall tale.

Standards and Objectives

Body awareness

Investigating - The student identifies and demonstrates the dance elements of time, space, and energy.

Creating - The student understands and demonstrates choreographic principles and processes in the art form of dance.

Students will locate and learn about Japan and Japanese fish.



Introduce the facts about Japan. The continent of Asia has a island just off the mainland, It is the country Japan.

What is an Island?



Japan has a great respect of the ocean because 60% of it’s food, economy comes from the ocean. It is also a source of great natural disaster like tsunamis, earthquakes, and storms. Teach the folk dance Soran Bushi.


Explore the dynamics of the Japan and the ocean through weather, earthquakes etc.

Dance a earthquake - Have half the class build a city landscape with sky scrapers, houses, streets and pathways. The other half dances through the open spaces.
  • Call out earthquake everyone vibrates and shakes where they are then crumbles into new overlapping balanced and off balanced shapes. The dance group then moves slowly through the space.
  • Tsunami - earth quake - the force of the land shift pulls the water back with each wave (running forward leaping rolling and pulling back) until everyone goes altogether crashes on the beach and creates overlapping balanced and off balanced shapes.



Show the class pictures of the Tokyo fish market. Point out the size of fish. Ask them to bring in a fish that size by hand. Give an example of a Big Fish Story… “you should have seen it. It was THIS BIG!!!’

Using the idea of exaggeration, earthquakes, and tsunamis write as a class a “Big Fish Story” and dance it.

Story Checklist:

  1. Creature/fish has to have human or magical characteristics
  2. Everything has to be exaggerated with lots of descriptive detail
  3. Must include tsunami and/or earthquake
  4. Stop at before the ending/resolution

After exploring dancing/choreographing the story - Have students predict their own endings for the story.

Divide students up in groups and have them write their own ending to the story. Perform their versions in front of the class.


After watching the groups… Ask the students:

  • What they liked about the story?
  • Could it there be possibility that it could have ended this way?
  • What clues led you on?

Students will use dance and language arts curriculum to enhance their learning about the conventions of language, specifically noun, collective nouns, verbs and adjective/adverbs. Information and Research will be at the classroom teachers discretion.
What makes a good story?
Teachers may accommodate and adapt by modifying the content (what is being taught), the process (how it is taught) and the product (how students demonstrate their learning), to meet all student needs.
  • Exaggeration
  • Parts of a story
  • Beginning
  • Middle
  • End
  • Details
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs
  • Predictions
Pre-assessment - KWL chart
Formative and performance assessment - students will do a peer-peer perceive and reflect after watching each other compositions.
Make a book of individually written big fish stories w/ illustrations. Make a dance showing with several different big fish stories.


  • CD/iPod/music source
  • Variety of music suggested
  • Drum for signaling
  • Picture of Japan, Tokyo fish market, different kinds of Japanese fish