Print version of this lesson plan and attachments.

By Francine Leon Guerrero

Elementary School Educator, Pedro C. Lujan Elementary School, Guam

About This Lesson

The following lesson plan was developed as part of the Culturally Sustaining Education: The Micronesian Context professional development workshop held 24-26 July 2018. The workshop was held in Guam and made possible by the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in partnership with Chaminade University of Honolulu’s Center for Teaching and Learning, the Department of CHamoru Affairs and the Senator Antonio Palomo Guam Museum and Educational Facility, the College of Micronesia, Alik Translation Services, and Guampedia. All lesson plans developed as part of this series were authored by a Guam-based educator with contributions from workshop facilitators.


Social Studies


Elementary, 5th Grade

Time required

45 – 60 minutes a day for 5 days

Materials required

  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Pencils
  • Multi-media projector
  • Blank world maps
  • Labeled world maps
  • Pacific Ocean Map
  • Map of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia (Culture Areas of the Pacific Map and Map of Micronesia provided)
  • Multi-colored construction paper
  • 11 ½ x 14 blue construction paper
  • Islands of the Pacific worksheet and assessment

Related links

Common Core Stare Standards

  • ELA-LITERACY.W.5.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
    • Locate and label the Pacific Ocean on a map.
    • Label the geographic sub-regions in the Pacific (Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia) and islands within them.
    • Reflect on the importance of the location of the region.

Lesson Plan


This is an introductory lesson to 5th grade geography, culture, history, and government. Students will learn to locate islands and key features on maps in the region in which they live. They will later use these skills to locate countries, states, and key features on a map or globe of the United States and the world as well as build background knowledge for future Social Studies lessons. Students will also discuss the value and importance of the islands in their region and reflect on how their location has affected interactions with foreign peoples and countries in the past up until today.


  • Use maps, globes, photographs, pictures, or tables to locate or recognize the following:
    • The seven continents and five oceans (specifically the Pacific Ocean in relation to the rest of the world).
    • Key geographic features (islands) on maps, diagrams, and/or Photographs.

Questions or Assessment

  • Why is it important to learn about maps of the Pacific Ocean?
  • What cultural sub regions can be found in the Pacific Ocean?
  • What continents and countries are near our region?
  • Why were/ are the islands in our region important to countries around the world.
  • Completion of Islands of the Pacific worksheet.


  • Region – a broad geographic area distinguished by similar features
  • Location – a position or site occupied or available for occupancy or marked by some distinguishing feature
  • Geographic features – Earth’s physical features, such as mountains, deserts, rivers, and oceans.
  • Islands – any area of land smaller than a continent and entirely surrounded by water. Islands may occur in oceans, seas, lakes, or rivers.


Teacher prep

Gather blank and labeled world maps you wish to use and make 1 or 2 copies for each group. Make the same amount of copies per group of the Pacific Islands Map, Cultural Areas of the Pacific, and Map of Micronesia). When copying the Cultural Areas of the Pacific Map, enlarge the image so the islands of each sub region are easier for students to see. Make 1 copy per student of the attached Pacific Ocean worksheet and Assessment. Prepare small pieces of multi-colored construction paper and (1) 11 ½ x 14 blue construction paper per group to represent the Pacific Ocean. An alternative for this activity is to provide a large sheet of white paper per group for students draw, label, and color their maps.

Day 1

Building Background Knowledge

  1. Introduce vocabulary: region, location, geographic features, and islands.
  2. In groups of 3-5, pass out blank world maps to each group show students. Project the same map on the board/ screen. Have them discuss the parts of the map they recognize. Ask if they are able to locate continents, oceans, countries, etc. Ask if they can point to places they may have traveled or places their families may have come from. Ask them to locate where Guam is on the map. Have groups share what they discussed with the class.
  3. Provide each group with a labeled map of the world. Project the same map on the board/ screen. Have students discuss if they guessed anything correctly. Have students locate Guam. Ask in what ocean Guam can be found. Assist students in finding Guam on the map and direct their attention to the Pacific Ocean.
    • In groups, have them compare and contrast the Pacific Ocean to other oceans on the map (guide discussion so students notice the location of Pacific Ocean and that it is the largest of all the oceans).
    • Have students discuss continents and countries that are near Guam and the Pacific Ocean (guide discussion so students notice Guam is near Asia and Australia, but far from Europe, North and South America).
  4. Tell students they will be looking more closely at the three sub regions in the Pacific Ocean- Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Pass out the Islands of the Pacific Ocean Map to each group, projecting the same map on the board. Again, ask students if they recognize some of the islands on the maps. Have they traveled to any of the islands? Do they have family that live there? For homework, have students ask their families if they have families that live on islands in the Pacific, if their families are from any of the islands, or if their families have traveled to any of the islands. Tell students to prepare to share what they learned with the class.

Day 2 and 3

Guided Practice – Create a map of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia

Project maps on the board from previous lesson and review information.

  1. Have students share any information they learned from their families.
  2. Divide the three sub regions as evenly as possible depending on the amount of groups you have. Explain to students that they will become the experts of each sub region. Pass out maps of Culture areas of the Pacific Map and the Map of Micronesia.
  3. Using the construction paper, students will create a cut and paste or tear art map of each sub region. Have them use the colored construction paper to create each island. The 11 ½ x 14 paper will represent the ocean.
    • Note: Islands appear very small in most maps available (additional research may be needed to find the exact shape of islands). An option would be to have students draw and color the maps as long as they are able to get an idea of the general location of the major islands in each sub region.
  4. Instruct students to label their maps with the following information:
    • Title – Map of Micronesia, Map of Melanesia, Map of Polynesia
    • Pacific Ocean
    • Major islands
  5. Check to see if islands are in the general vicinity. Provide guidance throughout activity. Allow groups time to review their maps, helping each other study the names and general location of the islands.

Day 4

Independent Activity

  1. Have group members decide on the order they will present their maps. They can do this by counting off from number 1. Pass out the Islands of the Pacific worksheet to each student.
  2. The first presenter will stay with their map while the rest of the group will rotate to another group. Each student will draw and label the islands within each sub region by getting the information from the other groups. The rotation will continue until each person in the group has had an opportunity to present and all students have visited each sub region. Maps should stay displayed for students who need additional time to complete their worksheets. Allow students time to double check their work and color their maps.

Day 5


  1. In groups or as a class, discuss questions 1 to 4.
    • What did you learn about the islands in the Pacific Ocean that surprised you the most?
    • Why is it important to learn
    • Islands of the Pacific about maps of the Pacific Ocean?
    • What sub regions can be found in the Pacific Ocean?
    • What continents and countries are near our region?
  2. Explain that throughout history our people have interacted with people and countries around the world. We will see evidence of those interactions in upcoming lessons (example: European Exploration) and that some of those interactions were positive and some negative. We continue to interact with people and countries around the world and these interactions affect our lives. Have students independently answer questions 4 and 5 on a sheet of paper or on the back of their assessment. Have students share their reflections.
    • Why do you think the islands in our region were/ are important to countries around the world? Explain your answer.
    • How did/ do interactions with people and countries around the world affect the lives of our people? Support your point of view.


  1. Have students box, circle, or color red the island they or their families are from.
  2. Teach lines of longitude and latitude and key geographic features using maps of the region as an introduction to US and world maps.
  3. Current events- find articles which show evidence of interactions between the people of the region and those from around the world and how those interactions affect them.