Grades 3 – 5

1 comment to Grades 3 – 5

  • Jane McKim

    As community director of the RiverRun International Film Festival, it is my job to find films that compliment school curricula and augment what the students are learning in the classroom. After identifying a film, I create a study guide of teaching strategies and additional resources that align with the particular subjects the film addresses, noting how the film satisfies articulated course requirements. For this objective, BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO is a gem! Using the film in our program has been an exciting opportunity for research and discovery with respect to the development of a study guide.

    For starters, it is a different and absolutely fascinating film. Essentially a study of deep and significant aspects of Japanese culture, BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO enters this study using as its focus the nation’s fascination with insects. The film is presented in an informative, experiential, and absolutely non-judgmental manner, unlike any other documentary I have seen. The way the film unfolds offers countless angles and areas for educators to address, beginning with its unique value as simply a piece of art!

    Any film shown through our program begins with a “pre-teaching” section. This section offers the teacher ideas and items about the film to share with students so he or she can approach the film “in gear.” For BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO this step is critical! The way the film is presented – focusing on a culture so entirely different from Western culture, and presenting a number of topics about that culture in the process – makes it essential to introduce students to some of these elements prior to viewing the film so they can absorb the most from the experience.

    The following paragraphs include some of the ideas we came up with for third to fifth graders. We think the way to expose students to a different culture is to begin by having them first think about cultural similarities and encouraging them to discuss what they know about Japanese culture. Additionally, though the film is about bugs and about collecting bugs (something some American kids can definitely relate to), many people here cannot relate to liking bugs. This is another great topic for exploration – why do some people hate bugs? The teacher can also ask if the students have an idea of just how magical bugs are.. For instance, do they know that we are unaware of 98% of the bugs on earth? Fun facts like this provide a wonderful opportunity for student-directed research.

    Next, the educator can discuss nature and how people in the U.S. think about nature. What parts of nature do the students like? What don’t they like? Would they take a walk on a rainy day? If a student says he or she would stay indoors on a rainy day, would the magic of nature cease to exist? The teacher can also download sounds of crickets and have students listen to the recordings before incorporating their impressions into a conversation about the characteristics of dragonflies and fireflies.

    Many students already know something about haiku and some of the traditional myths and fables of Japan such as The Tale of Genji, so the teacher can also discuss these arts forms and examine the ways that nature and certain insects are present in these expressions. Additional ideas include making art before the screening and/or, depending on the students, discussing Eastern religions and the cyclical role that nature plays in Japanese culture.

    By the time you view BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO with your students, you will have discussed some of topics they will see in the film and, for more sophisticated students, hopefully have helped them to examine their own culture and appreciate some of the similarities and differences between the United States and Japan.

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