Lesson Plans

Free Lesson Plans for Teachers

WHDE offers a set of free resources for teachers to help students better understand Korea. The lesson plans cover a variety of topics including geography, religion, economic development, culture, history, and the Korean War. Search our archive of lessons plans by topic, skill or grade level.

 
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5 Themes of Geography – South Korea

photo of street with buildings in background

This lesson exposes students to various aspects of South Korea while allowing them to compare some of those elements to other places such as the United States and North Korea.

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Author: Rebecca Turnbull

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 3 50-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2019

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Geography

An Examination of Lessons Learned from Siddhartha (Hesse, H., 1922)

buddha statue

This is a two day exercise to be used as an activity within a unit on Buddhism. Students should be allowed at least one week (including at least one weekend) to read the book Siddhartha (Hesse, H., 1922; English Translation by Applebaum, S., 1998) during unit of study but before the activity.

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Author: Kristine Harper

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: Two classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Literature, Religion

Artistic Expression vs. Historic Memory: A Controversial Mural Ignites Debate in Koreatown

mural

At the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, a mural ignited a firestorm of debate. The mural depicts the history of the school site, which was formerly home to the historic Ambassador Hotel. The background design of the mural is a series of red rays radiating outward. Local Korean organizations wrote letters to the school district, demanding that the mural be taken down, as it looked too much like the Japanese imperial flag. The artist claimed that the background design was not intended to evoke that history, and that it was a common design motif used in art. The school district agreed to paint over the mural, but the teachers and artist fought back, on the grounds of creative freedom and censorship. After enough pressure from a prominent artist, the district backed down. In this lesson, students will read statements put out by various groups, to learn more about the competing issues at play. They will read about Korea’s history under Japanese rule, compare and contrast the mural and Japanese imperial flag, read about the censorship concerns, and develop a solution that is grounded in factual evidence.

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PDFWord

Author: Isabel Morales

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: Two 60-minute periods

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Art, Japanese Occupation

Can North Korea Be Trusted?

fighter planes on runway

The main focus of “Can North Korea be Trusted” lesson is about the deconstruction of the Nuclear Missiles Through research and reading, students will confirm facts and historical

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PDFWord

Author: Mary Ellen Richichi

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: One 55-minute class

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis

Topics: North Korea, Politics

Coming Together: How cultural values can help explain the central role of government in Korean society

people with flags and banners in city square

This lesson focuses on the question, “Why does the South Korean government take such an active role in society?”

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PDFWord

Author: Andrew Levin

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 90 minutes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2020

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Culture, Politics

Constitutional Rights in the U.S. and Republic of Korea

people in city square with statue

With the assistance of the United States and numerous other foreign nations and the dedication and sacrifices of the Korean people, the Republic of Korea emerged out of the oppressions of Japanese occupation and the chaos of the Korean War. Through a tumultuous political history over the next several decades, Korea has emerged as a vibrant democracy that consistently ranks among the most democratic societies on the globe and particularly in Asia. This lesson explores the different approaches to rights reflected in the constitutions of the United States and South Korea. Students will examine Chapter II of The Constitution of the Republic of Korea in relationship to their study and understanding of the United States Constitution. The students will then be able to compare and contrast specific provisions of the two documents and formulate hypotheses about why the two documents approach rights differently.

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PDFWord

Author: Dan Kelly

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: One 90 minute block period or two 45 minute regular periods

Participation Year: Fellowship 2019

Skills: Analysis, Comparison

Topics: Communism, Politics

Continuous, Innovative, and Diverse: Korean Historical Developments from 1200-1450

thatched-roof buildings in village

In this lesson, students will answer the questions: 1 How were belief systems utilized to strengthen the legitimacy of Korean rulers? 2. Explain the effects of Chinese cultural traditions on Korea over time.

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PDFWordSupplemental PDF

Author: Rachelle Strang

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 90 minutes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2020

Skills: Analysis, Cause and Effect

Topics: Culture, Religion

Cultural / Historical Legacy of the Korean Peninsula through Unesco World Heritage Sites

In this lesson, students will identify the cultural / historical legacy of Unesco World Heritage Sites of the United States and the Korean peninsula. Students will create a web page explaining the cultural / historical legacy of one Unesco World Heritage Site located on the Korean peninsula.

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PDFWord

Author: Karen Kelly

Grades: Middle (6-8), Secondary (9-12)

Time: Three-five 50-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis, Comparison

Topics: Geography

Dark and Light: Incentives and Korea’s Divergent Economies

street scene

Post-war North and South Korea present a direct comparison case study through which students can understand how economic incentives help create wealth and good governance or deprivation and bad governance. By examining photos, charts, and videos, students will be able to understand the role of incentives in creating economic growth and democratic institutions.

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PDFWord

Author: Katie Booth

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 2 50 minute class periods or one 90 minute block

Participation Year: Fellowship 2019

Skills: Analysis, Evaluation

Topics: Economics, North Korea

Do Borders Matter?

landscape

Students will research and compare the current economic development of Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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PDFWord

Author: Linda Burrows

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: Two 55-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation

Topics: Economics, Politics

Dokdo as an Important Part of Korean National Identity

map

This lesson focuses on “Dokdo”, a set of islets in the East Sea, as an important component to Korean national identity, and the source of a tense territorial dispute between Korea and Japan. Students will first analyze maps of this territory and define vocabulary terms. Next students will analyze primary and secondary sources (documents) by answering questions and making inferences about Korean claims to this region, sentiment, and the importance to national identity.

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Author: Elyse Williams

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: Two 50-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis, Inference

Topics: Geography

Economic Development: Is Korea the Key?

city seen from above with river

During the Development Unit of AP Human Geography, students will look at data from other countries who were similar to South Korea in the 1960s, then the same data for today. Based on GDP, IHDI, and GNI they will use the obvious differences in development to draw conclusions as to how South Korea was able to develop so quickly, and what those countries can do to in an attempt to reach the same development level as South Korea.

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Author: Karen Coss

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: Two 50-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis, Comparison

Topics: Economics, Geography

Freedom’s Legacy

black and white photo of street with tanks

This lesson is intended to succeed lessons covering the end of World War II and the rise of Communism at the onset of Cold War and to supplement the scant content on the Korean War in the Tennessee World History and Geographytextbook published in 2015 by McGraw Hill Education. Prior to the start of this lesson, students should be able to differentiate between Capitalism and Communism (website link included in the resources section for review purposes if needed) and should possess basic knowledge of the competition between the world’s two superpowers representing each at the time—the United States and the Soviet Union. This lesson (or lessons dependent upon time allowance) touch upon the Korean War itself in regards to the lead up, start of the war, relations between countries involved, US intervention and aftermath. The main focus of this lesson/lessons is to develop a deeper understanding of why the US chose to defend freedom in Asia and of freedom’s legacy in the Republic of Korea in comparison to North Korea.

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PDFWord

Author: Maranda Wilkinson

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 1 90- minute block

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Freedom, Korean War, Legacy, Soviet Union

History Beyond the Textbook

video frame of man with glasses

Students will learn about the improtance of oral histories as they relate to the Korean War.

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PDFWordPowerPoint

Author: Jennifer Madden

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 90 minutes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2020

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Korean War

Honoring Korean War Veterans

black and white photo of bugler in military cemetery

This lesson will allow students to apply the information they have learned about the Korean War and develop a medium to honor the sacrifices of Korean War Veterans. The lesson will be the culminating activity on the study of the Korean War. It is designed to develop empathy and understanding of sacrifice and need to honor veterans.

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PDFWord

Author: Bobbie Downs

Grades: Middle (6-8)

Time: Three- five 40-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis, Presentation

Topics: Korean War, Veterans

How Do We Memorialize a “Forgotten War”?

white statues of soliders in field

This lesson helps students answer the question, “How do we choose to remember and memorialize people and events from history?”

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PDFWordPowerPoint

Author: India Meissel

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 90 minutes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2020

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Korean War

International Conflicts

three soldiers with rifles jumping over wall

In this lesson, students analyze secondary source documents in an effort to answer the central historical question: Who started the Korean War? The teacher begins by first explaining that textbooks can be biased sources and then uses a brief PowerPoint to show the geography of Korea and why/when war began there. Students then form pairs and read 2 accounts of the war: one from a South Korean textbook and another from a North Korean book. For both, students not only summarize and answer questions, but they must identify which source is which (North or South Korea?) and use textual details to prove it. In a class discussion, students share their answers. Students will also study the Montford Point Marines. They exceeded expectations and served tenaciously in the Korean War. These African American men were finally recognized by Congress and received the Gold Medal of Honor as a group on June 28, 2012. Guest speaker will be an academic coach from the school whose father served in the war and she has several primary documents to share with the students about her father’s experience in the war. Our school is primarily African American so I must incorporate the Montford Point Marines in this lesson, especially since a relative of a Korean War veteran works at the school. The conversation will lend itself to African Americans serving in a war and returning home to constant racism.

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PDFWord

Author: Valencia Robinson

Grades: Middle (6-8)

Time: Five 45-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Korean War

Korea and the United States: Postwar Perceptions

soldier on the march

In this lesson, students will examine how Americans and South Koreans view each other today.

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PDFWord

Author: Donald Jenkins

Grades: Middle (6-8)

Time: 90 minutes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2020

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Culture, Korean War, Perspectives

Korea and the United States: Postwar Perceptions

desolate war scene in black and white

The main topic of the lesson comes from a chapter on the Korean War Legacy Foundation website called Korea and the United States: Postwar Perceptions. Students do a close reading on the chapter, summarize the chapter, listen to one of the interviews in the chapter, and then use what they learned as a springboard to form their own research question about a topic related to the chapter. This is related to Korea because students will learn how the Korean War affected soldiers and civilians and then they will research a topic related to the Korean War or Korea today.

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PDFWord

Author: Donald Jenkins

Grades: Middle (6-8)

Time: 2-3 45 minute periods

Participation Year: Fellowship 2019

Skills: Analysis, Inquiry, Perspectives

Topics: Korean War

Korean Currency

person holding Korean bills

These lessons will involve student research about famous Koreans featured on Korean won. They will research the important people featured on South Korean currency in small groups. Students will then compare their new knowledge to what they know about US currency. This may require additional research by the students.

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PDFWord

Author: Karen Krzystof-Bansley

Grades: Middle (6-8)

Time: 3 50-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2019

Skills: Analysis, Comparison

Topics: Economics

Korean War Chapters: Korea: Forgetting and Remembering

soldiers in battle with rifles and sandbags

This lesson focuses on the question, “Why is the Korean War considered one of the most important conflicts of the Cold War and why should we remember it?”

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PDFWord

Author: Natia Deisadze

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 90 minutes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2020

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Korean War

Korean War Perspectives

officials signing documents at table

Using the information from “Beyond the Bridge of No Return”, Perspectives from the Korean War Legacy Foundation, and the image collection, consider the perspectives of the various people involved in the Korean War. Students will write a detailed statement and draw faces/ heads with emotions that match an aspect of their experience.

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PDFWord

Author: Raechel Bunnel

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 2 45-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2019

Skills: Analysis, Perspectives

Topics: Communism, Korean War

North Korean Defectors: An Analysis of the Human Side of the Story

barracks with guards

This lesson analyzes sources related to historical and current events on the Korean peninsula, focusing on the stories and experiences of North Korean refugees and defectors. Using differentiated primary and secondary sources, students will review the history of Korea in the 20th century, the division of the Korean Peninsula, the and major events up to the present day in order to better understand the background behind the division of Korea as it stands today. Students will then use this background knowledge to understand the setting and circumstances behind the stories of real North Korean defectors.

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PDFWord

Author: Randy Martin

Grades: Middle (6-8), Secondary (9-12)

Time: 3 60-Minute Classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2019

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Communism, Korean War, North Korea

Nuclear Attack on Seoul and Tokyo – Teaching About the Crisis with North Korea

map of North Korea with bomb-blast radii

Students will explore the possible impact of how a potential first strike against North Korea could lead to an attack on Seoul and Tokyo.

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PDFWord

Author: Tom Mueller

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 90 minutes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2020

Skills: Analysis, Cause and Effect

Topics: Current Events, North Korea

Population Pyramids: A Case Study

then and now scene, side by side photos

South Korea experienced a dramatic and sudden shift in economic and demographic standards during and after the Korean War. Students examining population pyramids for this same time period recognize and correlate the data in order to explain how the population of the country changed and how this impacted South Korea’s standing in the DTM.

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PDFWord

Author: Lisa Waligora

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: Two 50-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis, Comparison

Topics: Geography

Pushing Possibilities

earth seen from space

Students will explore the economic differences between North Korea and South Korea and apply concepts of production possibilities in order to make informed determinations about the economic prosperity (or lack thereof) in both North Korea and South Korea. In small groups of 4-5, students will be presented with a variety of sources. These sources will help students draw conclusions, make inferences and make comparisons of production possibilities in both North Korea and South Korea. Students will then engage in a gallery walk to view the conclusions of the various groups in the classroom. Finally, students will individually reflect on the activity.

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PDFWord

Author: Eliel Hinojosa

Grades: Middle (6-8), Secondary (9-12)

Time: One 45- minute class

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Economics, Globalization

Revolutionary Thinking: Extending Knowledge of the American Revolution through Korean History and Culture

two flags in front of wall

In order to connect the content to the district curriculum (7th grade American History), this lesson will be taught during the month of May. The timing is important because May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Students will be provided with information about Korean history, while also linking the form of sijo poetry to the content that I’m teaching at the time, which is the American Revolutionary War. Students will compare and contrast the Japanese colonization of Korea with the American Revolution. Then students will go on to create a sijo poem about a person or event of the American Revolution.

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PDFWord

Author: Georgette Hackman

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: Two 45-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2019

Skills: Analysis, Comparison

Topics: Sijo Poetry

Seon Buddhism in Korea

elegant, empty room with Buddha statue

This lesson will explain the spread of Buddhism, its connection and importance to Korea, as well as the way in which it is expressed through Seon Buddhism in Korea today. Note: This lesson assumes an introduction to early Buddhism, its founding, and basic beliefs

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PDFWord

Author: Michael-Ann Cignilia

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: Two 50-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Religion

The Five Themes of South Korea

street with wall and buildings in background

This lesson is an introduction to the Five Themes of Geography. All students will use images to identify how the five themes are found in South Korea. Students will individually research other countries and apply the five themes as they did with the analysis of South Korea.

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PDFWord

Author: Rhonda Watton

Grades: Middle (6-8)

Time: 2-3 50 minute sessions

Participation Year: Fellowship 2019

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Geography

The Impact of the Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952: (Korean GI Bill)

soldier hugging older man

This lesson explores the question, “How did the Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952 (Korean GI Bill) impact the Korean War veterans and American society as a whole?”

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PDFWord

Author: Kate Ehrlich

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 90 minutes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2020

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Korean War

The Little Green Frogs

book cover: The Green Frog

The purpose of this lesson is to develop an understanding of different global cultures using mentor texts. Using The Green Frogs, students will practice the whole book approach to reading a Korean folktale in order to better understand the role of folktales as a way of preserving culture

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PDFWord

Author: Heather Brougham-Cook

Grades: 4-5

Time: Two 50-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis, Comparison

Topics: Culture, Folktales

The Remarkable Space Between the Wars

tower behind trees

“The role that Korea has played in international politics and economics is often overshadowed by negative preconceptions and outright misconceptions by students.As the United States is currently embroiled in a climate of political, social and economic turmoil, students must understand the complexity of international relations. The ability to explore Korea’s role in the 21st Century will initiate critical discussion on the issues surrounding the current political, economic, and military crisis’s many nations are facing. Geopolitical decisions are global in scope and require systematic study of an interdependent world perspective. Students further need to develop a clearer understanding that technology plays a significant role in this decision-making. This lesson emphasizes a challenge to all learners to apply their prior knowledge to societal conditions as they analyze issues of past and present as well as working to clarify their own values, and refine their decision making capabilities.

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PDFWord

Author: Ellen Resnek

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 3-4 45-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2019

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Economics, Politics

War in Korea: How Would You Respond?

black and white photo of soldiers with ladders

This lesson will help students understand the major events of the Korean War and how the War impacted the lives of regular people. By introducing students to the story of the ROK Student Soldiers, they will think about the War’s impact on people their same age and how they might have coped with such an extreme situation. This will help students to better understand what it is like to live through a war and may help them to better understand the Korean people.

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PDFWord

Author: Erica Curtis

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: One 90-minute class

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis

Topics: Korean War, Legacy

What is required to fight a pandemic based on what we know as of April 30th 2020

two men with masks on city street

This lesson will give students the opportunity to explore what countries are doing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

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PDFWord

Author: Claire Delaroque

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: 45 minutes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2020

Skills: Analysis, Comparison

Topics: Current Events

What makes an invention successful? A case study on the Jikji

tablet with Korean writing

This lesson will have students assess the impact of jikji movable print on Korean society and beyond. Though the Gutenberg Press is credited as being the birth of movable type, the jikji predates the Gutenberg Bible by 70 years. In this focused inquiry lesson, students will focus in on what ideas were preserved within the jikji. This exploration can supplement analysis of the Gutenberg Press, providing students a case study in assessing the factors that hinder or promote different inventions’ influence. Likewise, assessing jikji and other inventions that influence mass communication allow students to grapple with how such mediums can preserve the past or be the mechanism that brings global change.

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PDFWord

Author: Carly Mutterties

Grades: Middle (6-8), Secondary (9-12)

Time: 1- 2 50-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2019

Skills: Analysis, Inquiry

Topics: Jikji

What was the Role of Other United Nation Member Nations during the Korean War?

black and white photo of UN committee

This lesson will focus on the role other United Nation member nations played during the Korean War to help South Korea maintain its’ independence. From there the lesson will examine the changing role of South Korean foreign policy and its close ties with the United States and whether or not South Korea should seek a unique diplomatic path in the future.

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PDFWord

Author: Henry Rehn

Grades: Secondary (9-12)

Time: Four-Five 50-minute classes

Participation Year: Fellowship 2018

Skills: Analysis, Comparison

Topics: Korean War, United Nations