Activity Overview

Starting a unit or lesson with the key vocabulary that students will see in their readings or presentations aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key vocabulary related to the study of Sikhism. They will create a spider map of 3-5 terms at the teacher's discretion. Each cell will contain a term, the definition, and an illustration that depicts the meaning. When students define and illustrate each term, they master the application of it and retain it as part of their lexicon.

Vocabulary for Sikhism

Adi Granth: The first collection of Sikh writings that were compiled by Guru Arjan. It means "first book" in Punjabi. It contains about 6,000 hymns and verses from Guru Nank and other Sikh Gurus and saints.

Amrit Sanskar ceremony: The rite of initiation into the Khalsa.

atma: Sanskrit word that means soul.

caste: A Hindu class system. Guru Nank denounced the caste system saying that all people were equal, however, this social order is still followed by some Sikhs to a degree. For example, for the purposes of marriage.

chauri: A fan waved over scriptures, made of yak hairs or nylon; It is a symbol of the authority of the Guru Granth Sahib.

The Five Ks: Five articles which identify a Sikh who has been initiated into the Khalsa. They are: kesh uncut hair; kangha a wooden comb worn in the hair; kara an iron bracelet; kacheracotton shorts; kirpaniron dagger.

Khalsa: The Sikh community, literally 'the community of the pure'. Refers particularly to initiated Sikhs.

five stages of liberation: The Sikh belief that one must go through 5 stages to be freed from the cycle of samsara and be reunited with Waheguru, God. The stages are: piety, knowledge, effort, grace, and truth.

five vices: Five immoral emotions that negatively influence a person's actions: anger, pride, lust, greed and undue attachment.

Golden Temple in Amritsar or the Hari Mandir: The Hari Mandir is a Sikh gurdwara (house of worship) that is in Amritsar in the Punjab state of India. It is the holiest spiritual centre for Sikhs and is said to be the most visited place in the world with 100,000 people visiting daily!

granthi: A granthi is a person responsible for reading the Sikh holy book during public worship in the gurdwara. A granthi is not a priest as Sikhism does not have hierarchy or priesthood. A granthi can be a man or a woman.

gurdwara: Sikh temple or house of worship. Means the 'the door that leads to the Guru'.

Guru: A religious teacher or guide. It means a teacher who removes the darkness of ignorance by giving the light of knowledge. For Sikhs, a guru is more than just a teacher but messengers from God.

Ten Sikh Gurus: The founder of Sikhism is Guru Nanak and Sikhs believe in his teachings as well as the teachings of his 9 successors who led Sikhism for 200 years. The Ten Sikh Gurus are: 1.Guru Nanak (1469-1539); 2. Guru Angad (1504-1552); 3. Guru Amar Das (1479-1574); 4. Guru Ram Das (1534-1581); 5. Guru Arjan (1563-1606); 6. Guru Hargobind (1595-1644); 7. Guru Har Rai (1630-1661); 8. Guru Har Krishan (1656-1664); 9. Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675); 10. Guru Gobind Singh.

Guru Granth Sahib: Sikh sacred text, treated as a living Guru (spiritual teacher).

Ik Onkar: There is only One God or 'God is One'.

kirtan: Chanting and singing scriptures in the Guru Granth Sahib.

langar: The kitchen and place where food is eaten in a Sikh Gurdwara. Often volunteers provide and cook food that is served to all as an act of sewa (charity).

martyr: Someone who suffers death and persecution for their beliefs.

meditation: Thinking quietly as a spiritual or religious exercise.

monotheism: The belief in only one God.

Naam Japna: Repeating and remembering God's name.

sewa: Selfless service to the community.

three foundations (or pillars) of Sikhism: Nam Japna (meditating on God’s name), Vand Chakna (helping others through sewa) and Kirat Karna (earning an honest living).

Waheguru: A Sikh name for God meaning "wondrous lord".

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a spider map that illustrates and defines key vocabulary relating to Sikhism.

Student Instructions:

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

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

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [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


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Define and illustrate each of the key terms.
7 Points
4 Points
1 Points
The vocabulary words are correctly defined.
The meaning of the vocabulary words can be understood but it is somewhat unclear.
The vocabulary word is not clearly defined
The storyboard illustrations clearly depict the meaning of the vocabulary words.
The illustrations relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words but it they are difficult to understand.
The illustrations do not clearly relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

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