Bento-Box - Columbus Council on World Affairs

The Bento Box
A learning unit constructed by The Columbus Council on World Affairs for use at summer culture camps but transferable to
mainstream classroom use. We appreciate all feedback.
Age Group: 6-12
Number of Students: any
Time Frame: 2 Hrs
Learning Objectives:
Global Connections:
 Awareness of nutritional habits in other countries (Japan)
Materials Needed:
Sushi rice…cook enough for each child to make two rice sandwiches. I made the rice the
night before and transported in a large plastic bowl. I cooked 10 cups of uncooked rice
in a rice cooker and cooled each batch as I went. I did not have to re-heat. This amount
worked well for 20 students.
Chopsticks: optional add on
Plastic bowl to dip hands into water
Colored plastic wrap (I used two different colors to act add color to the box. Japanese
mothers attempt to have all 5 colors in a lunch to symbolized food groups.
Square containers- I used styrofoam take out boxes with attached lids. I purchased 100
of these for $8.50.
Apples, one bag serviced 20 students
Carrots- one bag serviced 20 students
Map of the world for each student.
Markers for maps
Pictures of rice sandwiches if possible
Small sweet pickles
Introduce the topic of Bento Boxes by asking the students to pretend they will take a trip to
a. Students sit on the floor with individual maps and locate the US and then locate other
countries and finally Japan.
b. Explain how the Japanese value good nutrition and artful presentation of food.
c. Show pictures of the common rice sandwich with seaweed wrap- compare to a
hamburger and bun.
d. Show examples of the bento box beautifully arranged to show both the color of food
and the organization of food by food groups.
Take students to a kitchen with tables.
a. Give each student a plate with a piece of plastic wrap approx. 8X8 to wrap their first
b. Begin with a demonstration of a typical rice sandwich that is similar in size and shape to
a hockey puck. Instructions included.
c. Each student must wash hands then bathe hands in a bowl of water with 2 teaspoons
table salt. This will keep the rice from sticking to their hands. The teacher will scoop the
rice into the students’ hands to keep the larger rice bowl sanitary. Students will attempt
to mold the rice and then wrap in colored saran wrap. Explain how to hold the hands in
a crescent shape.
d. Students must wash their hands in prep for sandwich no. 2.
e. The second sandwich can be shaped as a log or tennis ball. This sandwich will be stuffed
with a small (half) pickle. The pickle is a common surprise as are other pickled veggies.
f. Students are amazed with the seaweed wrap. This was pre-cut and explained as very
healthy substitute for a bun.
g. The students put two sandwiches in their styrofoam boxes and separated the apple
slices and carrots. We have already discussed the significance of presentation and
proper balance.
h. A demonstration of using chopsticks followed. Most attempted , few could do, but all
enjoyed trying.
This lesson was done for ages 6-11. Students loved the map introduction and making the
sandwiches. Many chose to eat this meal as their lunch that day.
Special thanks to Bobbie Mucha and Stephanie Calondis Geiger for development of this lesson
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