Sumi’s First Day of School Ever with Classroom Projects

Sumi’s First day of school, by Soung Pak

A young Korean girl tries to fit in on her first day of school, even if she doesn’t speak the language, but with the help of a very nice teacher and a new friend, school isn’t so lonely, scary or mean for Sumi.  Age Range: 3 – 5

What a wonderful book for Social Studies, this book could open your students up to a variety of projects that can be done in the classroom.

Circle Time Questions

Does Sumi look different than the other boys and girls? (Discuss Sumi’s nationality)

Explain how Sumi is different but the same as the other students

Talk about where she lived and bring in pictures.

Sumi was scared, what scares you?

Dramatic Play

Add clothes that represent Sumi’s country.


Put out three cards with Korean numbers on them. Make sure the English numbers are shown on all the cards also. Make an additional set, and have the students match the numbers.


Invite a parent who speaks Korean to come in and read a familiar story in their language.

Block area

Provide pictures of buildings in Korea and have the students try to duplicate them using an assortment of blocks.


Talk about the weather where you live, then talk about the weather in Korea. See if it’s the same or different. Have the students create a picture of both. Make one-half of the picture where you live and the other half Korea.


Teach the students a few words in Korean; put the words on a piece of paper around the classroom. Talk to the students about how they look. For example: find the Korean word red, and then write the word red and show the students how they differ. Talk about how the word sounds in Korean and how confusing English must have been for Sumi.

Music / Art Center

Find a musical instrument that the students like from Korea, and have them make their own in the art center.

Sensory/ Cooking project

Have students make Korean Street Food: Strawberry Hard Candy, they can wash and dry them for you, but you would have to do the rest.

Manipulative Center

Put out inexpensive chopsticks with cotton balls to see if they can use them to pick things up, or you can put them out with foam for building and creating.



Korean hard strawberry candy


                                                                     The Word Red


See my YouTube Video on Back to school books for your classroom.

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