Activity Overview

Starting a unit or lesson with the key vocabulary terms and allusions aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key terms and allusions that are related to Sylvia & Aki.

Previewing these can help students better understand the story and learn about Japanese American Incarceration during World War II in Aki's story and segregation in public schools in Sylvia's story. 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 Terms and Allusions from Sylvia & Aki

race: A group of people that have common physical characteristics like hair or skin color.

prejudice: A negative attitude toward a group of people, usually based upon color, gender, religion, and/or culture.

segregation: Separating people based upon the color of their skin, religion, gender, and/or culture.

discrimination: Treating a person or group unfairly usually based upon color, gender, religion, culture, and/or disability.

internment camp: Location for people the government thinks could be a threat; the U.S. government put many Japanese Americans into these camps during World War II.

barrio: A neighborhood of Spanish-speaking people.

petition: A request for action from the government or another authority figure; it is usually signed by many people that agree with that action.

integration: Accepting all people and groups of people into a group, community, place, school, or organization.

allegiance: Loyalty to the government or to another person.

equality: Equal rights for people of all colors, cultures, religions, and genders.

lease: A contract by which one party conveys land, property, services, etc. to another for a specified time, usually in return for a periodic payment. Sylvia's father leased the Munemitsu asparagus farm when the Munemitsu family was sent to an internment camp.

Japanese American Incarceration during World War II: During World War II, the U.S. government forced about 120,000 Japanese Americans to leave their homes and move to internment centers, or concentration camps, where they were confined and denied their rights for the rest of the war. Many lost their homes and livelihoods as well as their freedom during this time. In 1988, the U.S. government officially apologized and granted reparations to survivors.

Gonzalo Méndez v. Westminster School District: A 1945 federal court case that challenged the segregation of Mexican students from public schools in Orange County, California. The case was a predecessor to Brown vs. Board of Education which made segregation illegal nationwide. In February 1946, Judge Paul J. McCormick decided in favor of the Mexican-American parents. Ruling that the Orange County school districts violated the "equal protection" rights of Mexican-American citizens.

atomic bomb: An atomic bomb is a weapon with great explosive power The U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945 and three days later on Nagasaki. Around 140,000 of Hiroshima's population of 350,000 were killed in the bombing, and around 74,000 people died in Nagasaki. Tens of thousands of others died in the aftermath, of radiation poisoning, and their injuries. After the bombings, the Empire of Japan surrendered, ending the war.

integration: The practice of uniting people from different races in order to give people equal rights. Sylvia's father sought integration of the public schools in California.

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 examples of allusions or key vocabulary from Sylvia & Aki.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title boxes, identify the 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.

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

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 4-6

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

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


(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.

More Storyboard That Activities

Sylvia & Aki

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