People and Places


Way of life and wet rice agriculture in the lowlands: The case of Java


This lesson examines how folktales influence agricultural practices. It explores the concept of the iceberg of culture.

Subject History / Social Studies
Topic Way of life and wet rice agriculture in the lowlands: The case of Java
Key idea Across time, people respond to the varied natural environment of a region in multiple ways that shape their
worldviews and ways of life.
Key concepts Environment, highlands, lowlands, coastlands
People, worldviews, way of life
Level Lower secondary
No. of periods / lessons 1 period (1 period is approximately 50 minutes)
Facilities needed A/V equipment and Internet access to play the video clips (or hard copy with similar content)
Sources and handouts for distribution
Prerequisite knowledge No prerequisite knowledge required.
Understanding the attributes of lowlands (as explored in Lesson 1: Flood plains and river systems) is a plus.

Learning objectives
By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:

  1. Identify the key features and significance
    of festivals, rituals and stories that are
    common in the region.
  2. Link a community’s way of life, its festivals,
    rituals and stories to the environment.
  1. Examine videos and artefacts to draw out
    attributes and significance of festivals,
    rituals and stories.
  2. Perform a role to recognize the feelings of people involved in stories.
  3. Create stories or rituals which are similar to
    the ones that are experienced in many parts of a region.
  1. Demonstrate awareness that environments
    shape our worldviews and ways of life.
  2. Cooperate in groups to complete task


Download the lesson plan for details on the talks and activities suggested below.

1. Hook activity

Students observe video or images of a rice harvest festival. Many communities in the lowlands are focused on agriculture and rituals associated with this activity have shaped their way of life.

2. Group work: Source/artefact analysis

Students observe an artefact connected with a rice festival (or photos) and guess its significance.

3. Role play

Students analyze the folktale of Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice (using a text or a video) and identify identify elements in the story that refer to an agrarian life.

4. Reflection

  • Our way of life (festivals/rituals/stories) is shaped by the environment we live in.
  • Lowlands in Southeast Asia focus on agriculture, which has shaped their way of life. Many festivals, rituals and stories are common in lowlands across
    Southeast Asia.
  • At times, they differ due to the influences of religion and the time period

5. Suggested home extension activities

  • Students collect stories related to agriculture.
  • Students  create their own story related to agriculture.
  • Students create an artefact to be used in the harvest festival and explain its significance.