Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Heirloom Chopsticks

Christy Williamson
Bay District Schools


Students measure, pattern, and design heirloom chopsticks.


The student selects and uses the appropriate tool for situational measures (for example, measuring sticks, scales and balances, thermometers, measuring cups, gauges).

The student describes, extends, and creates numerical and geometric patterns using a variety of models (for example, lists, tables, charts).

The student discusses, explains, and analyzes the rule that applies to the pattern.


-Plain wooden chopsticks (one pair per student)
-Decorative chopsticks (available at Oriental stores)
-Permanent markers
-Drawing paper
-Small pieces of folded paper

How My Parents Learned to Eat (by Ina R. Friedman, Turtleback, 1987)
Cooking the Japanese Way (by Reiko Weston, Lerner Publications Co, 1989)


1. Become familiar with books
2. Purchase plain wooden chopsticks and decorative chopsticks
3. Gather materials: rulers, books, markers, drawing paper, pieces of folded paper


1. Read How My Parents Learnd to Eat by Ina R. Friedman and discuss with students the differences between the American and Japanese way of eating.

2. Ask, -Do you have special dishes or eating utensils used for special occassions and guests in your home?- Allow time for discussion. Lead students into a discussion on heirlooms.

3. Use questions to guide the discussion and define heirlooms. Sample questions might include, -Does anyone know what an heirloom is? What makes an heirloom special? How do you think an heirloom begins? Do any of you have any heirlooms in your home? What would you want to pass on as an heirloom?-

4. Use student volunteers to model how heirlooms are passed from one generation to another. Select one volunteer to represent the -mother- in the story previously read. Hand the -mother- a pair of decorative chopsticks. Select another student to represent the -child- in the story. Explain that the child has grown up and on her wedding day received her mother's chopsticks (at this time, the chopsticks should be passed from mother to child). Continue selecting students to represent future generations. Emphasize that heirlooms can be passed to either male or female children.

5. Tell students, -Today, you will be creating patterns to design your own pair of heirloom chopsticks.-

6. Show additional examples of decorative chopsticks. Discuss with students the patterns on the chopsticks. Ask them to analyze the pattern on each pair and explain the rule that applies to the pattern.

7. Give students drawing paper and a pair of wooden chopsticks. Instruct students to trace the chopsticks onto their paper. Next, have students measure 3 1/2 inches down from the top of their traced chopsticks. Students mark the measurement.

8. Students create an AB or ABC color pattern and design to go in the 3 1/2 inch area of their traced chopsticks.

9. Have students ask a partner to analyze their pattern and explain the rule that applies. If a pattern can not be described, students go -back to the drawing paper- to edit their design.

10. When another student can explain the rule being applied in the pattern, students are ready to repeat the above procedures with the wooden chopsticks.

11. Students measure 3 1/2 inches down from the top of their chopsticks and mark the measurements.

12. Students replicate their AB or ABC design onto the wooden chopsticks.

13. Students share their designs and explain the rules being applied in their patterns.

14. Students practice using chopsticks by picking up small pieces of folded paper. (Instructions for using chopsticks are on page 41 in Cooking the Japanese Way .) Have students name some foods they think would be easier to pick up with chopsticks.

15. Discuss with students how they felt when trying to learn how to eat a different way. Ask students: -Does it take a special ability to use chopsticks? Do you think the Japanese would have a hard time learning how to eat with a fork, spoon, and knife?- Use this experience to help deepen students' appreciation and admiration of a different culture.


Assessment is embedded in the instruction (see steps 6, 9, 10, & 13).

A teacher may use a checklist to assess:
-creation of AB or ABC pattern
-accuracy of 3 1/2 inch measurement
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