Indonesia: A Unit Study
. . . Inspiration will come in many forms during this unit study.
ABOVE: An up-close view of the paper batik Cadi made using crayons and watercolors. The Indonesian
flag is featured in the design. INSET: Cadi making a travel brochure about the island of Bali.
By Alicia Z. Klepeis
Selamat datang! Thismeans“wel- come” in Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of Indonesia. With its komodo dragons, active volcanoes, and incredible gamelan
music, Indonesia has something to offer homeschoolers of all ages. From
learning to make nasi goreng (a popular fried rice dish) to trying their hands
at batik, inspiration will come in many
forms during this unit study.
For most students, Indonesia is a
mysterious and unfamiliar country.
Students may not have much back-
ground knowledge going into this unit
study, but that leaves much to be dis-
covered! Before beginning your Indo-
nesia study, you might want to request
free brochures about Bali and the other
islands from local travel agents. Also,
check in your local phone book or on-
line to see if there are any Indonesian
stores, restaurants, or world music ven-
It can be fun to start this unit with a
hands-on activity that will get students
excited about this exotic, exciting nation.
Try to come up with some items from Indonesia: batik fabric, cinnamon sticks, a
coconut, a picture of a volcano, and maybe even a shadow puppet. With some
advance notice, your local bank might be
able to get you a couple of Indonesian rupiah notes. (Since the U.S. dollar is much
stronger than the rupiah, it wouldn’t
cost you much money.) Pass these items
around and discuss their smells, colors,
and so on.
Another good ice-breaker activity is to
have students write down these words:
17,000 islands. Have your
homeschoolers brainstorm about anything related to these words and then tell
them that Indonesia has both of these
things. Younger learners can draw pictures of whatever comes to mind when
they think about rainforests or islands.
Have students research the Pacific Ring
of Fire, looking at the number of volcanoes and earthquakes that occur in this
area. Watching clips from the PBS series
Savage Earth can also bring to life how
plate tectonics are connected to volcanoes, and it will also allow students to
see scientists in action. Students can