Activity Overview

Starting a unit or lesson with the key vocabulary aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key vocabulary found in the book Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. Students will create a Spider map of 3-5 terms at the teachers discretion. Each cell will contain a term or allusion, its definition or description, and an appropriate illustration.

Examples of Vocabulary from Inside Out and Back Again

áo dài: Vietnamese national garment of a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over trousers; meaning literally "long shirt".

Bruce Lee: U.S. actor and kung fu expert, Bruce Lee starred in a number of martial arts movies.

Communism: a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

cyclo: three-wheel bicycle taxi that appeared in Vietnam during the French colonial period.

dông: coin, the basic monetary unit of Vietnam.

durian: an oval spiny tropical fruit containing a creamy pulp and a pungent aroma.

I Ching: Translated as The Book of Changes, the I Ching is an ancient Chinese manual of divination based on eight symbolic trigrams and sixty-four hexagrams, interpreted in terms of the principles of yin and yang. It was included as one of the “five classics” of Confucianism.

Glutinous: like glue in texture; sticky.

Gong: metal disk with a turned rim, giving a resonant note when struck.

immigration: the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country.

loyalty: a strong feeling of support or allegiance.

papaya a tropical fruit shaped like an elongated melon, with edible orange flesh and small black seeds.

refugee: a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Navy: the branch of a nation's armed services that conducts military operations at sea.

semi-autobiographical: a written work dealing partly with the writer's own life but also containing fictional elements.

tamarind: sticky brown acidic pulp from the pod of a tree of the pea family, widely used as a flavoring in Asian cooking.

Vietcong (also Viet Cong): a member of the communist guerrilla movement in Vietnam that fought the South Vietnamese government forces 1954–75 with the support of the North Vietnamese army and opposed the South Vietnamese and US forces in the Vietnam War; from Vietnamese, meaning literally "Vietnamese Communist".

Vietnam (Viet Nam): a southeast Asian country on the South China Sea. Vietnam is the country east of Laos and Cambodia and it is south of China.

The Vietnam War: Also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War. It was a conflict between communist North Vietnam and noncommunist South Vietnam. The war was fought in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from November 1, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a spider map that defines and illustrates key vocabulary from Inside Out and Back Again.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title boxes, identify the vocabulary terms you have chosen.
  3. In the description boxes, write the definition or description of the term.
  4. Create an illustration for each term using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  5. Save often!

Requirements: Must have 3 vocabulary terms, correct definitions or descriptions, and appropriate illustrations for each that demonstrate your understanding of the words.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-8

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual

Type of Activity: Literary Allusions

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/3] Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/4] Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/6] Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression


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