By Dawn Boland, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Social Studies

Lesson Time



As part of the Australian Curriculum requirements, students must study the Tokagawa Shogunate Period (Edo Period). This program uses this lens to develop skills, strategies and processes for students through a design perspective. Rather than supplying the information for students about this Era in Japan\\\\\\\'s history, students are empowered to develop questions, research and prototype their own museum piece. That means, selecting a primary source from this time period, studying the source, presenting their source in a way that would engage the audience as part of a \\\\\\\'class museum\\\\\\\' and demonstrating how this source reveals important aspects about Japan\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s history at that time. Students are engaged by putting themselves in the role of a museum curator. Why do curator\\\\\\\'s select specific pieces and what ideas and questions must that person keep in mind to engage and inform the audience (the user). Students will not only gain knowledge about Japan\\\\\\\'s history but also develop their skills in the Social Studies discipline.

National Standards

Social Studies - Historical understanding Standards 1 & 2 Social Studies - World History Era 6 - 30 Social Studies - World History Era 7 - 36 & 37


Essential Questions:
  • How might we use the philosophy of the warrior in our own lives?
  • How am I like a samurai?
  • What is the bushido code?
  • What was the connection between the samurai and the world around them?
Students will understand that:
  • key features of themedieval world (feudalism, trade routes, voyages of discovery, contact and conflict
  • Societies and cultures have rules, systems and common goals and ideas that help them to function and the causes and effects upon these ideas.
Students will know that...  
  • The way of life in shogunate Japan, including social, cultural, economic and political features (including the feudal system and the increasing power of the shogun)
  • The role of the Tokugawa Shogunate in reimposing a feudal system (based on daimyo and samurai) and the increasing control of the Shogun over foreign trade
  • The use of environmental resources in Shogunate Japan and the forestry and land use policies of the Tokugawa Shogunate
  • Theories about the decline of the Shogunate, including modernisation and westernisation, through the adoption of Western arms and technology
Students will be able to ...
  • Sequence historical events, developments and periods
  • Use historicalterms and concepts
  • Identify and locate relevant sources, using ICT and other methods
  • Identify the origin and purpose of primary andsecondary sources
  • Draw conclusions about the usefulness of sources
  • Identify and describe points of view, attitudes and values in primary andsecondary sources
  • Develop texts, particularly descriptions and explanations that useevidence from a range of sources that are acknowledged
  • Use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written) and digital technologies



Worksheets and Rotational Activities Provided.


Anthropology The study of human development, society and culture. Bushido Code The code of the samurai in feudal Japan – a representation of the way of life – loyalty, obedience and honour before life. Castle A building or group of buildings that are fortified against attack from outside through use of reinforced walls, gates, towers and / or motes. Code A representational system. cultural Relating to ideas, customs, characteristics and social behaviour of a particular group or society. Curator A person who selects or collects artefacts or works of art to showcase an idea, period of time or organisation/artist. Daimyo A lord (nobility), land owner who served as a vassal to the shogun. distribution Share or spread throughout a group. Domestic Within a country or area. Economy Wealth and resources of a country or organisation. This includes production and consumption of goods and services and import and export of resources and the management of resources. Empathy The ability to understand or share the feelings of another person. Emperor Sovereign of a kingdom or empire. Environment The surrounding and conditions of where humans or animals live bound by a geographical area. Example An item that demonstrates the general characteristics or rules of its kind. Feedback Providing comments and ideas about a person’s ideas and/or work. Feudalism A social and government system with nobility at the top of the pyramid of power and vassals or peasants who work the land and pay the nobility for the right to do so. Foreign An item, idea or characteristic that comes from another place and that is unfamiliar. High Fidelity Close to or the actual final product of the design process. Honour Respect and esteem. Iconography Using pictures to represent people or meaning. Influence The effect or impact upon another person or thing. Installation An exhibit which demonstrates a series of artefacts or works. Interpretation Explaining a personal meaning or comprehension. Kami Relating to the Japanese National Shinto Religion – a divine being and referring to the 4 ways of relating 1. Acknowledging the blessings of nature 2. Respect for parents 3. Worship of ancestors and 4. Loyalty to the government. Koku Japanese unit of volume, historically it is a quantity of rice that is enough to feed 1 adult for a year. Low Fidelity Sketches and drawings that demonstrate thinking and development - often annotated. Mandate An official order, a policy to carry out specific task or action. Mindmap Thinking tool which demonstrates categorised thinking and learning of a particular idea or subject. PMI Plus, Minus, Interesting – thinking tool Policy A course of action enacted by a governing body. Prototype A model that acts as an idea from which more ideas flow. Ramifications A consequence of an event or action that is complex or unwelcome. Representation An object or person that ‘acts’ or ‘speaks’ on behalf of something or someone else. Samurai A member of a military ‘family’ who served under the Daimyo. Shogun Heredity commander / leader appointed initially by the Emperor who led a military style of government. Shogunate A system of government that is Military Based with a General or Governor as the leader. This style of government was in place from c. 1192 to c.1870. Shoguns were appointed by the Emperor. Tokagawa Shogunate Also known as Tokagawa Bakufu or Edo Bakufu was the last feudal military based government which existed between 1603 and 1868. Tradition Customs and beliefs that are handed down from generation to generation and that are based on the values of the individuals of the time they first enacted. Urbanisation The increase in the proportion of people living in towns as opposed to rural areas. Values Importance principles or standards of behaviour that are abided by and that can define one’s character.


1. Timeline Activity - Find examples of Edo Period Timelines - divide students into groups and ask them to find similarities and differences in both content and presentation. Students see which events are common in each timeline example and create a group timeline to show the common events. 2. Map of Japan - Add cities and areas - Look at other map examples from the Edo Period and discuss aspects of the maps. 3. pre-reading: The Feudal System in Japan – Who has the power? Who was who and where did they stand? Who is at the party? Empathy / role play (Teacher instruction worksheet provided) - assign students roles and rules for the party. Students stand in their assigned places and act according their profile cards. After the role play, have students discuss the relationships in the role play and the implications of the rules placed upon them. Creation of pyramid of power What is an Emperor? Define and give examples 4. What is special about the Emperor of Japan – past and present and make predictions about the future Have students read the Japanese legend of Sun and the Moon YouTube clip available. Pre-reading about Shogunate society 5. Tokagawa Shogunate - rotational activities The Castle, Cultural, The Sword and Samurai, Environment, Economy and the Foreign Mandate. 2 Master classes (Foreign Mandate & Sword and Samurai) these are done with teachers 6 rotations Mindmap is assessed at the end of the rotations - see rubric Mindmap of Tokagawa Facts – headings -Social, Cultural, Economic, Political, Power) Adding to the mind map – continuing the rotations 6. Revision Activity - What makes a relevant, accurate and reliable source? OPVL Comparing sources What makes a great primary source? 6 examples of sources Inquiry – Hot Potato Activity 7. Pre-reading – History of the Samurai - EBook Library Visit to see sources including samurai armour ? Guest speaker? Read over Assignment Sheet – highlight ready to ask questions. 8. Introduce Museum Activity What makes a great museum exhibit? Students are asked to select 1 primary source created in the time of the Tokagawa Shogunate. Students are to present this piece in their own version of a museum display that demonstrates their understanding of how that piece contributed to the period and what it reveals about the culture (ethnography) of the time. They are to select an appropriate method to communicate their ideas and piece which could include an online museum, physical (3D print if one exists or photo) museum or audio to accompany their primary source. Lessons should include: Finding an appropriate primary source Data projector Begin research 9. Begin Low Fidelity Design – drawing and draft Begin Low Fidelity Design – drawing and draft Gallery Walk and Feedback PMI Act on Feedback 10. Create High Fidelity Design Create High Fidelity Design Gallery Walk and Final Feedback 11. Samurai and the Bushido Code -  How are we like warriors? 12. Mind map – what is my code? 13. Iconography – develop icons for your code 14. Presentation of Code and Iconography to peers


Assessment in two parts - a mindmap of the knowledge they have obtained during the rotational activities and an assignment: Students are asked to select 1 primary source created in the time of the Tokagawa Shogunate. Students are to present this piece in their own version of a museum display that demonstrates their understanding of how that piece contributed to the period and what it reveals about the culture (ethnography) of the time. They are to select an appropriate method to communicate their ideas and piece which could include an online museum, physical (3D print if one exists or photo) museum or audio to accompany their primary source.

Enrichment Extension Activities

To differentiate for students the teacher should scaffold activities for students who require extra help or time. Teachers should also direct students to Google Advanced Search and online Databases for finding and researching their chosen primary source.

Teacher Reflection

Students need to continue to revisit how to select sources and evaluate their relevance, accuracy and reliability. This includes source point of origin, purpose, value and limitations. This unit requires students to be more hand-on in the inquiry process and follow the design process to create their museum display. Rotational activities allow students to have more control over their learning and their learning pathways especially if they are allowed to select when they would like to attend the masterclasses with the teacher/s.

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