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Micronesia: Understanding Its People and Culture

By Marlou G. Badajos

Elementary School Educator, Maria A. Ulloa Elementary, 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, 4th Grade

Time required

30 – 45 minutes a day for 8 – 10 days

Materials required

  • DVD: Crossing Spaces by Lola Quan Bautista
  • Book: “Sumay” by Dr. James Viernes
  • Textbook: “Pacific Neighbors” by Betty Dunford and Reilly Ridgell
  • Whiteboard or white screen
  • Portable projector
  • Computer
  • Internet access
  • Cardboard or project display board (with the artifacts of a culture)
  • Pretend Passport
  • Family Heritage poster (completed sample)
  • Family Heritage worksheet (see link)
  • Crayons, markers, pencil, paper, stick glue
  • Assignment sheet with requirements for project
  • Project display rubrics
  • Elmo Projector
  • Reflection worksheet

Related background reading

  • Text: “Pacific Neighbors”:
    • Part One: Pacific Background
      • Unit Two: Peopling of the Pacific
      • Unit Three: Changes in the Pacific Islands After the Europeans Came
    • Part Two: The Islands
      • Unit Four: Micronesia
  • Book: “Sumay”

Related links

Guam Standard

  • 4.1.3 Recognize the different cultural groups found on Guam and express appreciation for the cultural diversity of the island.
  • 4.1.4 List ways in which one culture can influence other cultures and bring about change

Lesson Plan


Guam is rich in diversity. It has a multicultural community with people from many parts of the world, particularly from within the Pacific Region and specifically from Micronesia. A Culturally Sustaining Education plays an important role in the success of our students because it helps them understand and appreciate their own culture and the unique cultures of other students in the community, as well as the cultural similarities they may have with each other. This knowledge of identity and culture can lead to the preservation of “Inafa’maolek” and a sense of belonging or community, in a society whose ancient core values are centered on these beliefs. This lesson supports the education of young children in the appreciation and respect for their own culture as well as the cultures of others, particularly Micronesian children and Pacific peoples, who make up a majority of the population on Guam.


  • Students will learn about and appreciate their own unique culture, heritage and values.
  • Students will learn about and appreciate the culture, heritage and values of their classmates.
  • Students will learn how one culture can influence or change another culture.
  • Students will learn what cultural similarities they may have with each other.
  • Students will learn why it’s important to learn about the cultures of others in the community.
  • Students will have a basic understanding of the word “culture.”

Questions or Assessment

  • Student reflection – What is culture? What did you learn about other cultures? Did you find any similarities between your culture and others in your class? If so, what were they? What are your feelings about culture now? Etc.
  • Rubrics for the Social Studies Project Display (see sample below)
  • Participation – Did the student participate in all the activities? Is “Pretend Passport” complete with the stickers from each display?


Teacher prep

Before beginning the lesson, take a picture of each student and print a copy or ask students to bring pictures from home. Explain that they will be making a “My Family Heritage” poster.

Day 1

  1. Pass out the “My Family Heritage” poster printable worksheet, showing an example of one that is already completed.
  2. Tell the students that they will be making a similar one of themselves.
  3. Pass out the printable poster and have the students glue their pictures to it and complete the poster.
    • If they don’t have pictures, they can draw and color pictures of their family members.

Day 2

  1. Have students share their posters with their classmates, talking about themselves using the poster as their guide.
    • Be mindful of shy students; in this case, have a group leader (or student spokesperson) share the posters for their group.

Day 3

  1. Show the film, Crossing Spaces.
  2. After watching the film, have students write or draw about their thoughts or feelings about the film, on a notebook or sheet of paper.
  3. Ask for volunteers to share what they wrote.
  4. Prompt the class into discussing what they watched in terms of “community,” “sense of belonging,” and “inafa’maolek.”
  5. Write the word “culture” on the whiteboard or chalkboard and ask the class,
    • “What is the meaning of culture?”
    • “What comes to mind when you hear the word culture?”
  6. Explain to the class that each one of them has a culture, and that their cultures have evolved or changed over time.


Students will read their textbook “Pacific Neighbors,” Part One: Pacific Background, Unit Two: Peopling of the Pacific.

Day 4

  1. Show some photos of Guam culture from the following site using the projector and computer (it will be at the teacher’s discretion as to which photos tie in with culture): CHamoru Culture entries.
  2. After showing the photos, have students take out their books “Pacific Neighbors.” Discuss what they read for homework.
  3. Write the word, “culture” on the board again and explain to the class that what they watched yesterday (Crossing Spaces), what they read in their textbook, and the pictures they have seen from all have something to do with culture; and that the definition of culture is “the beliefs, customs, arts, etc. or way of life of a group of people.”
  4. Explain to the class that in the next few days, they will be learning about each other’s cultural heritage.

Day 5

  1. Present a project display board that has pictures or artifacts of a culture (i.e. Native American Indian culture or other).
  2. Explain to the class that each of them (or they can work in groups) will work on a social studies project in which they will create a cultural project display showcasing one island culture, such as Guam, Chuuk, Yap, Palau, Pohnpei, Kosrae, etc.
  3. Visit Guampedia’s Micronesia Portal and Micronesia and World Milestones.
  4. In the display, they must have the name of the island culture, a map, pictures of the people, food, art, clothing, flag, language (written in their own native language with translation), and other artifacts they consider important.
    • They may decorate their display with real artifacts (clothing, plants, hats, etc.).
  5. To tie this lesson with the “use of technology,” students may search on the web for photos and other information, and save it on the computer at school for the teacher to print them out, if the students don’t have a computer and printer at home.
  6. Students will also decide on which island culture they will work on, and if they will work by themselves or with a group. And they may also read Part Two, Unit Four on “Micronesia” from the textbook, “Pacific Neighbors,” to find information about their chosen island culture.


  1. Pass out the assignment sheet with requirements for the project.
  2. Students will have at least a week to do this project at home and part of the time at school.
  3. Ask the class if they have any questions about the project.

Day 6

  1. Students will present their cultural displays in class. Set the displays around the classroom with a small envelope of stickers, and give each student a “pretend passport.”
  2. Explain to the class that today they are going to travel and learn about the different cultures in Micronesia by visiting each display.
  3. Have them fill out their passports. After all passports are completed, explain to the class what they must do.
  4. Show how the students will proceed to each display and tell the students to ask questions about each culture as they visit the displays.
  5. They must carry their passports to each display and upon completion of a visit to a display, they will get one sticker from the display area and stick it to their passport under “visa.”


Students will read Part One, Unit Three of the book, “Pacific Neighbors” on the topic: Changes in the Pacific Islands When the Europeans Came.

Day 7

  1. Using an Elmo projector, present the book, “Sumay” on the whiteboard or white screen.
  2. Ask the class if any of them have been to Sånta Rita-Sumai or lived there or if they have relatives there?
  3. Explain to the class that there used to be a place called Sumai, and that it was a very memorable place. But it was lost to CHamorus during World War II and is now Naval Base Guam. The people who used to live in Sumai had to move to Sånta Rita-Sumai in 1944 to make way for the military base.
  4. Ask the class, “what are some changes that happened to the Pacific Islands when the Europeans came?” (from their homework readings).
  5. Then show some excerpts from the book on “Sumay” on the white screen.
  6. Explain to the class that a culture can go through many changes and be influenced by other cultures. The story of Sumai is an example of this experience.
  7. Then have the class think of other ways a culture can be influenced or changed by another culture.
  8. Brainstorm and have students list these changes on the whiteboard.
  9. Then have the class think further and decide whether the changes were positive or negative, and why they think so.
  10. Have the class think about all the things they learned about the word “culture” and to be prepared to write or offer a reflection of what they learned so far about Micronesian culture on the next lesson day.

Day 8 – 10

  1. Final day of lesson: Students will write a reflection of what they learned about Micronesian Culture. If they can’t write about it, have them draw what they learned.
  2. Have a reflection worksheet for this activity (teacher-made) with the following questions:
    • What is culture?
    • What did you learn about other cultures?
    • Did you see any similarities between your culture and the culture of others in the class? If so, what were they?
    • What are your feelings about culture now?
    • Why do you think it’s important to learn about your culture and the culture of others?
    • What are other things you would like to learn about Micronesian culture? (For ESL students and students with special needs, make accommodations and modifications as needed).
  3. Optional: As a culminating activity for this lesson, students may go on a field-trip to the Guam Museum.


0 – Did not have a visual display
1 – Display was not completed, but attempted.
2 – Display is missing one element.
3 – Display is completed and has all elements.
4 – Display was completed, has all the elements, and
was visually appealing. Used excellent graphics (i.e. artifacts).