SUMMARY: Forced to flee her beloved Vietnam to escape a devastating civil war, a woman takes only her children and a single lotus seed to remember the emperor by. Years later, when her grandson steals the seed, she thinks all is lost until the beautiful lotus blooms again, reminding her of home. She gives each grandchild a seed to remember her by. This story will help readers appreciate those who must start anew without forgetting their pasts.
BEFORE READING THE STORY
*Locate Vietnam on a world map, then locate the equator. Compare that country's distance from the equator
to that of your state. Discuss what kind of weather occurs in countries near the equator (hot and rainy).
*Ask children why they think
Vietnamese wear pointed hats? (They shed rain).
WHILE READING THE STORY:
*Pause when you reach the page showing the people boarding
the boat and ask the children to predict where they think the people will go.
*Then read the next page and ask the children where
the family is now.
*Did anyone predict the United States? Explain that most Vietnamese refugees came to the USA, but many also went
to other nations across the world with big cities, such as France, Germany, England, Australia or Holland.
AFTER READING THE STORY:
*Discuss why Ba took the lotus seed when she fled but left behind her valuable hair combs.
*Pose a hypothetical situation to the children:Suppose
that a fire or flood was rapidly approaching and that each child could only take one item from his or her home. What would they take?
What would their grandmother take?
*Discuss the boy's feelings when he took the seed. Possible questions to ask: How do you think
he felt when his grandmother became so upset? How might he have felt when the lotus bloomed? What do you think he will do with his
*Discuss what problems Ba faced due to not knowing the language of her new country.
*Discuss the fact that the United
States is called "a nation of immigrants" or "the melting pot."
*Take a group survey of the children's ancestors' origins and how
long they have lived in the United States.
*On a world map place a colored pin or sticker on the country of each student's ancestors.
OTHER SUBJECT TIE-INS
Below are some suggestions for tying this story in with different subjects. Many of these came from schools
that I have visited over the years.
*Using a map and ruler, calculate the distance from Vietnam to your school.
the number of seeds in a lotus pod (or drawing of a lotus pod).
*Calculate the distance from your town to the equator.Math*Have children
draw a scene from the book.
*Teach children to use chop sticks. Have a chop stick contest, using peanuts. Count the number of peanuts
that each child picks up.
*Have the children draw a lotus bloom.
*Make lotus flowers out of pink tissues and glue them onto blue
construction paper with green leaves.
*Explain now important bamboo is to Asians. Name some items made from bamboo.
how important rice is in Asia. Make an egg roll with rice paper.
*Talk about the different uses of coconuts and coconut palm trees.
*Plant a lotus seed (or other seeds).
*Compare Tet (Lunar New Year) to American New Year
*Compare the Moon Festival (Fall
Festival) to Halloween
*Show Vietnamese Zodiac. How is it different from Greek Zodiac?
*Talk about dragons -- in Asia considered good
and bring rain and good luck. Compare to European dragons.
*Read a Vietnamese folktale
*Examine the poem on the back
cover. How do Vietnamese words look compared to English words?
*Vietnamese is a tonal language. The diacritical marks indicate a tone
change, which in turn changes the meaning of the word.
*Do any words in English change meanings by changing tones? [a good example
is the word "well."]
THE LOTUS SEED
Illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi
The following link has many lesson plans and guides for THE LOTUS SEED created by classroom teachers. Most charge a small fee.