University of Illinois Extension


Forever Friends is designed for 4-6th graders to learn about Japan, China, India, the Philippines, Korea and Vietnam and their cultures. These countries represent deep-rooted Asian influences.

In today’s global society, it is important for young people to develop global leadership skills by understanding how people live elsewhere in the world. Forever Friends introduces students to the daily lives, cultural arts, customs and philosophies, and environments the people of these countries. The more we understand others, the better able we are to live and work together successfully. As the world becomes smaller, this becomes more important.

We at University of Illinois Extension hope you enjoy teaching Forever Friends to your students. It may open doors to other international activities or experiences.

State Learning Goals for Late Elementary Students

Understand world geography and the effects of geography on society.

The need for geographic literacy has never been greater or more obvious than in today’s tightly interrelated world.

  1. Students will locate, describe and explain places, regions, and features in selected Asian countries.
    • Students will use maps and other geographic representations and instruments to gather information about people, places, and environments in Asia.
    • Students will compare the physical characteristics of Asian countries including climate, land forms, wildlife, and vegetation.
  2. To understand relationships between geographic factors and society.
    • Students will describe how natural events in the physical environment affect human activities.

Understand events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of other nations.

Students who can examine and analyze the events of the past have a powerful tool for understanding the events of today and the future. They develop an understanding of how people, nations, actions and interactions have led to today’s realities.

  1. Students will apply the skills of historical analysis and interpretation.
    • Students will read historical stories and determine what events influenced the author’s writing.
    • Students will select and compare different stories about important Asian historical figures or events and analyze differences in the portrayals and perspectives they present.

Understand social systems.

A study of social systems has two important aspects that help people understand their roles as individuals and members of society. First is to understand culture consisting of language, literature, arts and traditions of various groups of people.

  1. Students will explain ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, media and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture.

Social Emotional Learning Standards

Goal – Use social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.

Building and maintaining positive relationships with others are central to success in school and life. It requires the ability to recognize the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of others, including those different from one’s own.

  • Students will be able to identify verbal, physical, and situational cues that indicate how others may feel.
  • Students will identify differences among and contributions of various social and cultural groups.
  • Students will demonstrate how to work effectively with those who are different from themselves.
  • Students will describe approaches for making and keeping friends with special emphasis on developing friends with Asian backgrounds.
  • Students will analyze and demonstrate cooperative and how to work effectively in a group.

Getting Ready

Sometimes people feel uncomfortable when meeting someone from another country. To help show students how easy it is to welcome new international friends, six hosts will introduce us to their countries and their way of life.

Begin the unit by asking what the students know about Korea, China, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and India. Do they have friends from any of these countries? Have they visited or lived in any of these countries? Do they have relatives who came from these countries or who may still be living there? Have they eaten Asian foods?

What is their perception of these countries based upon what they see on TV or read in newspapers or online?

How To Get the Most Out of Forever Friends in Your Classroom

First, you can teach the concept of obtaining proper credentials (passport, visa) to travel internationally. A passport is permission to travel abroad from your country. A visa is permission to travel into a country you want to visit. Every student will get their passport and then they are ready to travel.

You can start in any country you want. You may choose all or only selected countries to study. After completing your visit to each country, be sure to have their passports stamped.

There is great flexibility to augment the lessons with activities about food, clothing, arts, dance, music, and sports.

Activities for the Classroom

Here are a few suggestions of ways you can enhance your teaching.

  • Invite a guest from one of the country’s to speak about their homeland. Topics might include a child’s life in school and at home, foods, government, local customs, clothing, language, geography, cultural arts, and daily living.
  • Have an Asian International Fair. Ask students to create displays, exhibits and posters about research they have done. Host a Taste of Asia buffet. Everybody can have a sample of several different foods. Ask a guest speaker and decorate the room or facility with Asian motifs. Market the Asian International Fair with the other teachers and students in the school.
  • Research current events from one or more of the countries in newspapers, magazines, online or on television.
  • Celebrate an Asian Holiday. Research customs associated with the holiday. Research why this holiday is so important to that country.An alternative would be to attend a holiday function in your community. For instance, a Chinese New Year Celebration, Indian Festival, or a Community International event may already be scheduled in your community.
  • Invite an Asian exchange student from your local high school to visit the class and share their experiences.
  • Explore the monetary system of these countries. Look at the currency. What images are on the money and why? Get samples of money from each country. What is the exchange rate with the U.S. dollar or your currency? Think about buying a shirt in that country versus here. How much would it cost?
  • Establish a Class-to-Class program via the use of Skype or other technology.
  • Write to the educational section of an Embassy to obtain information about the country and get travel posters for the classroom.
  • Have a fashion show of Asian clothing. Discuss the history of the garments and customs associated with them.
  • Visit an Asian garden, or local building with Asian influences or a museum/cultural center with an Asian exhibit.
  • Visit an Asian Market if you have one in your town or if you have a Japantown, Chinatown, Koreatown, etc. You might provide the students with candy or treats from one of these countries.
  • Explore and report about the contributions individuals from these Asian countries have made in the areas of the arts, schools, literature and government.
  • Research famous Asian philosophers and their thinking. They provide the foundation of Asian cultures.
  • Create Haiku poems and ask the students to read them aloud. Post them on a bulletin board or your class website.
  • What is the favorite beverage of Asian countries? Tea or hot water. Study how tea is grown and cultivated and it’s health benefits. Then have a tea party!
  • Make a photo album or display of all the student’s activities from Forever Friends.
  • Each country has some specific symbols to represent its culture. Ask the students to research symbols for each country. An example is dragon in China.
  • New Year’s is celebrated around the world in different ways and at different times of the year. Discover when New Year’s is celebrated in these countries.
  • What do children enjoy doing in these countries? What is a typical school day? How many months do the students attend classes?
  • Animals play an important part of people’s lives in Asia. They are important in agriculture, in work and transportation. And they are treasures of nature. Pandas, snakes, monkeys, and elephants. Search out facts about these animals and where they come from in Asia.
  • Animals are also important in the Zodiac. Discover what the Zodiac is, what animals are represented and how it is organized. Then read today’s horoscope!
  • Consider growing your own Asian vegetable garden. You might choose bok choy, Chinese cabbage, carrots, kohlrabi, watermelon, bitter melon, cauliflower, Asian spinach, green onions, green beans, and snow peas.
  • Celebrate spring or summer with a kite flying event. Ask the students to create or design kites or decorate a kite. You could have a contest and name the most unusual kite, best flying, highest flying, etc.
  • Explore what are the favorite sports of youth in these countries. You will find ping pong, jumping rope, martial arts, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and cricket are very popular.
  • Ask each student to select a famous person from one of the Forever Friends countries. Have them write a brief news article or story about the person.
  • Decorate the walls of your classroom with maps of the Forever Friends countries.
  • Develop posters of each country giving some facts about the nation. Might include: capital city, official language, official religion, land area population, type of government, industries, official currency, famous persons from the country, and largest cities.


Internet sites

India Heritage: A site providing short articles on Indian life

The Lands, People, and Cultures Series:

Kids Web Japan: A site about Japan geared to youth

Ask Asia: A site for youth with information and activities on Asian cultures

Asian Info. Org:

Directory of Indian Government websites.; Government of India The Republic of Korea Official website –

The Korea Times –

The Korea Herald –

Tour 2 Korea – The official Korean tourism site – – Late breaking news about Asia –

CIA – The World Factbook – provides information about 266 world entities including history, people, communications, transportation, and geography.

Embassies & Organizations

Embassy of China in U.S. 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20007 Telephone: 202-338-6688 Consulates are in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Fransisco.

Embassy of India in U.S. 2107 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008 Telephone: 202-939-7000 Consulates are in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Houston.

Embassy of Japan in U.S. 2520 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008 Telephone: 202-238-6700 Consulates are in Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle.

Embassy of the Philippines in U.S. 1600 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC 20036 Telephone: 202-467-9300 Consulates are in Chicago, Honolulu, Guam, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Miami.

Embassy of South Korea in U.S. 2450 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008 Telephone: 202-939-5660 or 202-939-5663 Consulates are in Guam, Houston, Seattle, Atlanta, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Newton, Massachusetts.

Embassy of Vietnam in U.S. 1233 20th Street, NW Suite 400 Washington, DC 20036 Telephone: 202-861-0737

Useful Addresses

Embassies of China, Japan, India, the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, in USA - (go to web to find them)

Other Resources

The Lands, Peoples, and Cultures Series. Crabtree Publishing, New York, 2008.

Windows to Asia Cultures by Virginia Kuo and Judy Schmidt, University of Illinois Extension


Carpenter, Frances. (1938). Tales of a Chinese Grandmother. New York: Harrap.

Chen, Wei Zhen. (1991). Calligraphers and the simplification of Chinese characters. In Chinese Construction, (p. 3-6).

Hu, Qin Gong. (1991). The simplification of Chinese characters in publishing. In Chinese Construction, (p. 8-9).

Kent, Deborah. (1996). China, Old Ways Meet New. New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation.

Liao, Xu Dong. (1991). The simplification of Chinese characters in language teaching. In Chinese Construction, (p. 10-13).

Littlefield, J. (2008). Teen volunteerism: How to promote a positive volunteer experience. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from

Lu, Shao Change. (1991). Comments on the improvement of Chinese characters. In Chinese Construction, (p. 15-17).

McLenighan, Valjean. (1984). People’s Republic of China. Chicago: Children Press.

Mooney, P. (2007). Great wall of China overrun, damaged, Disneyfied. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from

Pei, M. L. (2008). China the beautiful. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from


Focus on India by Ali Brownlie Bojang and Nicola Barber, Milwaukee: World Almanac Library.


Benkhe, A. (1989). Japan in Pictures. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications.

Galvin, I.F. (1996). Japan, a Modern Land with Ancient Roots. New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation.

Heinrichs, A. (1998). Japan, Enchantment of the World. New York: Children’s Press.

Roberson, J. R. (1985). Japan―from Shogun to Sony, 1543—1984. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.

Schomp, V. (2002). Japan in the Days of the Samurai. New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation.

Tames, R. (1987). Japan, the Land and Its People. Silver Burdett Press.

North Korea

North Korea – Enchantment of the World by Patricia J. Kummer, New York, Children’s Press, 2008.

K is for Korea by Hyechong Chung and Prodeejota Das, London, England: Frances Lincoln Limited, 2008.

The Philippines

Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF). (2004). The Philippines: People and Culture. Retrieved April 8, 2007, from

Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Northern Illinois University (SEAsite). (2006). Tagalog. Retrieved May 10, 2007, from

Jocano, F. L. (1997). Filipino Value System: A Cultural Definition. Manila: Punland Research House.

Ledger, R., and Ledger, S. (2004). Snapshots of Asia: Philippines. Carlton, South Victoria, Australia: Curriculum Corporation of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Nacu, D.C. (1999). My parol. Retrieved March 11, 2007, from This website provides many sources about the parol, including history of the lantern, information on how to make a parol, as well as teacher resources and information about other Filipino traditions.

Rodel, P.A. (2001). Culture and Customs of the Philippines. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.


Ancestor Worship Today. (2008). Smithsonian Institute. Retrieved June 10, 2007, from This website from the Smithsonsian Asian Art online exhibit shows teens’ perspectives on Chinese ancestor worship. There are many similarities with Vietnamese ancestor worship. This is an excellent website with information from Chinese youth about the customs, rituals and tradition surrounding ancestor worship. Although it is not specific to Vietnam, many of the ideas and customs are similar.

Caddell Crawford, A. (2000). Customs and Cultures of Vietnam. Reprinted online from 1966 edition. Retrieved July 23, 2007, from

Huynh, Dinh Te. (2004). Attitudes towards Self. Retrieved July 15, 2008, from Lewis, Robert. (2003). Vietnam: Young People, Old Country. Carlton, South Victoria, Australia: University of Melbourne Curriculum Corporation.

MacMillen, D. (1994). TET: Vietnamese New Year. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc. This book provides information about this Vietnamese holiday and is part of a best holiday book series that has other country’s holidays and traditions.

McCloud, M., and Nguyen, T.D. (2001). Culture and Customs of Vietnam. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Sachs, D. (2000). The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam. New York: Workman Publishing

Seah, A., and Nair, C.M. (2005). Vietnam: Cultures of the World. New York: Benchmark Books.

Utah State University. TeacherLink. Retrieved June 2007, from This website has great lesson plans on different cultures and holiday traditions. It includes an expanded version of the activities in the lesson to make a wee-long activity.

Ward, T. (1996). TET: The Vietnamese New Year Festival. Retrieved May 12, 2007 from