Washington's Cherry Trees: A Gift from Japan

Washington's Cherry Trees: A Gift from Japan
Helen Taft: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: Two to three class periods


Standards Compliance
NCSS Strand 1
Culture
NCSS Strand 2
Time, Continuity, and Change
NCSS Strand 3
People, Places, and Environments
NCSS Strand 9
Global Connections
NCTE Standard 1
Students read fiction, nonfiction, classic, and contemporary works to acquire information for various purposes.
NCTE Standard 3
Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts.
NCTE Standard 4
Students adjust the use of spoken, written, and visual language to communicate with different audiences and purposes.
NCTE Standard 6
Students apply knowledge of language structure, convention, and media techniques to create, critique, and discuss texts.
NCTE Standard 8
Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize, and communicate knowledge.
NCTE Standard 12
Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes.
ISTE Standard 5
Technology research tools

Introduction:

Nellie Taft was instrumental in securing the beautiful flowering cherry trees that encircle the Basin in Washington, D.C.  They were a gift to the United States from Japan.

Objectives:

The purpose of this lesson is to acquaint students with this story and to help them develop an appreciation of the beauty of our nation’s capital.  

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet; access to print reference materials; curriculum biography of Nellie Taft; art materials .

Procedures:

1.  Tell students that they are responsible for the publicity for a tour of the Washington Basin during the Cherry Blossom Festival!  Their job is to create a brochure to be used as an advertisement for the tour.  Working in groups, they are to design, illustrate, and write the copy that includes the following information (the teacher may add other requirements): 

  • History of the Basin area
  • Story of how the trees were given to the American people
  • Map of the location of the trees in Washington, D.C.
  • Pictures from either the web or their own art work of the trees in bloom

Extending the Lesson:

The teacher may also choose to divide the brochure creation among several groups and produce only one larger artifact from the entire class.  Also, the teacher may choose to include this lesson with others (search the timeline for “Washington, D.C.” or “nation’s capital”) to create a unit dedicated to the history of Washington, D.C.
 
Students might also do a social studies project on Japanese culture, or a combined art, language arts, and social studies project similar to the one shown on the following website:
 
http://www.storyboardtoys.com/gallery/Shellie.htm 

Sources & Resources:

Websites: 

The History of Cherry Trees in Washington, DC

Cherry Blossom Festival
 
Credits:

This lesson was developed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.