Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Rice (Gohan) Observations

Christy Williamson
Bay District Schools


The student estimates, observes, and records observations of rice (known as -gohan- in Japan) in two experiments and communicates the results.


The student writes notes, comments, and observations that reflect comprehension of content and experiences from a variety of media.

The student uses and justifies different estimation strategies in a real-world problem situation and determines the reasonableness of results of calculations in a given problem situation.

The student uses concrete and graphic models to develop procedures for solving problems related to measurement including length, weight, time, temperature, perimeter, area, volume, and angles.

The student knows that a successful method to explore the natural world is to observe and record, and then analyze and communicate the results.


-1 clear plastic cup (per student)
-1/4 c. rice (per student)
-1/4 c. water (per student)
-Ruler (per student)
-2 scales
-Journal paper to record data
-Magnifying glass (per student)
~ Everyone Eats Rice, Jillian Powell, Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers: Austin, Texas, 1997
~How My Parents Learned to Eat, Ina R. Friedman, Houghton Mifflin, Co., 1984
-Chart paper or butcher paper for T-Chart


1. Gather rice, cups, magnifying glasses, rulers, marking pens for the small group experiments.
2. Read about rice (gohan is the Japanese term for rice).
3. Create a checklist with criteria for students to self-assess their journal entries and the experiment process.
4. Make rubric for assessing descriptive paragraph or use Creating Writers Six Trait Rubric (Northwest Regional Education Laboratory, 1997)


I. Set the Stage
Ask students what they know about rice? Define gohan as the Japanese term for rice. Record any observations to refer to later in the lesson. Tell students that today they will be working in their groups of four to conduct two experiments to find out about the properties of rice. Then they will compare and communicate the results. Distribute journal paper and instruct students to fold the paper into quarters. Then label the two quadrants on the left Pre- and the two quadrants on the right Post-.

II. Conduct the experiment
Students observe the containers of uncooked rice at their tables. Ask for observations. Students record their observations on their journal paper on the side of the paper that says Pre-. They may want to draw a picture of how the rice looks before the experiment. Ask students if this seems like the rice people eat. Ask, -What happens to the rice to make it edible?- Tell students that today they will be working in groups of four to conduct two experiments to find out about the properties of rice and what happens to rice to make it edible. Then they will communicate what they have learned.

Review the steps for conducting an experiment. Remind students to record predictions, justify their prediction, test predictions, record findings, and communicate the results in their journals. State that while students work in their small groups, you will call the groups over one at a time to observe the second experiment, cooking rice. When students rotate to the area where the rice is being cooked, follow the same procedure. Students record what they see prior to the cooking on the Pre- side of the paper. Then they predict what will happen when it is cooked. Finally, they record how the rice looks after it is cooked on the Post side and record why they think it changed.

The groups will complete the following steps and record observations in journal:
1. Get one clear plastic cup and print their name at the top of the cup.
2. Make a prediction to show where they estimate 1/4 cup of rice will fill to by drawing a fill line on the cup.
3. Measure 1/4 cup of rice and place it in their cup.
4. Draw a line around the outside of the cup to show how high the rice is inside the cup. Compare this line to the prediction line.
5. Weigh rice on scale and record.
6. Examine a grain of gohan or rice under the magnifying glass.
7. Draw a picture and write a descriptive paragraph of the gohan observed.
8. Estimate how many grains of rice are in 1/4 c. Record estimation and justify in journal.
9. With a partner take one 1/4 c. of rice and count the grains of rice out into groups of 25. How many groups of 25 do you have? (record) What is your total? (record) Make a multiplication problem from this information. Compare prediction to actual number.
10. Place rice or gohan back into your cup and add 1/4 c. of water. Make a prediction about what you think will happen, record and justify estimation.
11. The next day, students repeat steps #3, 4, 5, and 6.
12. Students draw a conclusion using observations about what would happen if they repeated the same procedure the next day. Students determine the reasonableness of results based upon collected data and record in journal.

III. Compare the results
Discuss what students observed in both experiments. Analyze results as a class. After the discussion, students should compare their findings and analyze the results in a descriptive paragraph.


Assess students while working and student written observations in journals with the following criteria in an observation checklist...
The student
~uses estimation strategies to solve problems
~justifies estimations
~determines the reasonableness of estimations
~describes procedures for solving problem, including observing, recording, analyzing

Assess descriptive paragraph, journal observations, and math operations recordings with Creating Writers rubric on content for feedback/scoring. Content should include the following criteria:
~communicate the results of both experiments and compare
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