Today I have a set of samurai worksheets to share with you. They are currently FREE to download! For the past several weeks, we have really gone into a lot of depth about the age of Japanese feudalism and touched on topics including the samurai weapons, their code of conduct called bushido, and some of the most famous samurai and shoguns of this period.
We started off by talking about the geography of Japan. Then we talked about structure of society:
- Emperor: Held the highest rank but had no actual political power.
- Shogun: Actual ruler.
- Daimyo: Great landowners.
- Vassals and Samurai Soldiers: Held land granted by daimyo or shogun.
- Ronin: Samurai soldiers without lords.
- Peasants and Artisans: Provided food and weapons for the samurai class.
- Merchants: Had low social status but gradually gained influence.
We talked a little bit about their armor and spent quite a bit of time on the code of conduct, bushido. Bushido emphasized loyalty and unquestioning obedience to one’s lord. It also emphasized simplicity, courage and honor. A samurai that violated this code was thought to have disgraced himself and his family. To remove this disgrace, he was expected to commit suicide, seppuku.
One of the reasons this unit took so long is because we got completely drawn into the movie, Shogun. (affiliate link) It is a 9-hour mini-series based on the novel by James Clavell. My kids were totally drawn in. While I only planned on watching bits of it, we wound up watching the entire thing! That was okay with me because we were doing *so* much with science in September and October (not to mention all our other subjects). If your kids are fascinated by this period in Japan’s history, you might want to check it out. My kids loved it. (I would recommend this for middle school/high school, though my youngest, age 9, has loved it too.)
So, back to what we covered for our history notebooks! We also talked about some of the famous rulers of Japan including Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Resources we used: We borrowed a number of books from the library and we read the (short) section about samurai in Story of the World, vol. 3. We also used a World History textbook: Prentice Hall’s World History, Patterns of Civilization. (affiliate link) I find this to be a good, solid textbook and it works well for the ages of my kids (9, 12, 14). (This is a high school world history textbook.) There are just 7 pages about the samurai in this World History textbook, but it actually provided more “meat” than many of the books from the library.
If you are interested in our samurai notebook pages, you can download them (free) here:
One year, we spent a semester studying India and then the second semester studying China. Here are some of those posts:
- China Fact Sheet
- China Unit: A Huge List of Children’s Books
- Ancient China Packet (Free Notebook Pages about the early dynasties: Shang, Zhou, Qin)
- Chinese Brush Painting Lesson
- Free Confucianism Notebook Pages
- Buddhism Learning Pack
- Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan — Free Notebook Pages, Books, and Resources
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