1st Grade - Social Studies

LESSON PROBLEM: Where are the countries mentioned in the story


The story "Everybody Cooks Rice" is about a girl named Carrie. She searches her neighborhood for her brother Anthony. It's dinner time and her mother sends her to find her brother and bring him home.

On the way to find her brother, Carrie discovers that all of her neighbors are cooking rice. She lives in a neighborhood where everyone comes from a different country. Her neighbors brought the recipes from their native countries.

Carrie's first stop is the Darlington's house. Mr. and Mrs. Darlington are from Barbados. Barbados is an island in the West Indies. It is one of the Caribbean Islands. The country is in a group of islands between North and South America. It is southeast of Florida.

The climate of Barbados is tropical. It is hot there all year round. Mr. Darlington tells Carrie that "people swim there and go fishing - even in December!"

Carrie tastes a Caribbean dish that has rice, bacon, onions and black-eyed peas in it.

Carrie's next stop is at the Diaz house. The Diaz family is from Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is another island in the West Indies. An island is land with water all around it. Puerto Rico is surrounded by water. Above it is the Atlantic Ocean and below it is the Caribbean Sea. The climate of Puerto Rico is like Barbados. It is hot all year round.

Carrie eats a dish that is bright yellow in color. It is a dish that has the spice turmeric in it. It has rice and peas in it.

Carrie looks for Anthony at the Tran's house. This family is from Vietnam.

Vietnam is in the continent of Asia. It is in Southeastern Asia. It is beside the countries of
Cambodia, China and Laos. The climate of Vietnam is tropical in the South and very, very rainy in the North. That means that they have a hot rainy season from May to September. They have a warm, dry season from October to March. They grow a lot of rice in Vietnam. This tiny grain is the main crop. The country has lots of rain and very rich soil.

Carrie tastes a Vietnamese dish that has rice and a sauce called nuoc cham. It is a fish sauce with garlic.

Carrie continues on down the street and meets a friend named Rajit. His family is from India.

He is bringing his working parents some leftover food for their dinner. It is a "fancy colorful Indian dish called "biryani". This dish is made of raisins, spices and basmati rice.

India is a country in southern Asia. It borders the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. It is between the countries of Burma and Pakistan. The climate of India is tropical. It is hot in this country all year round.

Carrie walks up the corner to the Hua family. This family is from China. They grow a lot of rice in China. Rice is a very important crop for this country. In China, rice is often steamed in bamboo baskets. The baskets are placed over boiling water and the rice cooks.

Mrs. Hua is making steamed rice. She is serving the rice with tofu and vegetables. This is a very healthful meal. The Huas' use chopsticks to eat their meal. In China rice is eaten from a bowl, using chopsticks.

China is in Eastern Asia. It is between North Korea and Vietnam. The climate of China is tropical in the south. It is colder in the north.

Carrie goes to her backyard neighbors, the Bleus. They are from Haiti. Haiti is another island in the West Indies like Barbados and Puerto Rico. It has the Atlantic Ocean north of it and the Caribbean Sea south of it. It is next to the Dominican Republic. The climate of Haiti is tropical. It is hot all year round.

The Bleus' are cooking a "Creole style Haitian dinner". It is made of peppers, chives, red beans and rice.

Carrie is getting tired now, but there is another home where she hopes she will find her brother. The Nelson's are from Louisiana. They are making jambalaya. It is made with rice, shrimp and vegetables. Carrie learns that rice grows in Louisiana, Arkansas, California, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas. The United States is one of the world's important producers of rice. The U.S. exports rice to more than one hundred countries.

Carrie finally heads home without finding Anthony. He is at home with their mother and baby sister Anna. Carrie's mother is making rice with green peas. She is making a dish called risi e bisi. Her mother's grandmother came from northern Italy. Carrie's mother is cooking an Italian dish that has "butter, grated cheese and some nutmeg" on the rice with green peas.

Italy is in southern Europe. It is a peninsula that opens into the Mediterranean Sea. A peninsula is land that is surrounded by water on three sides. The climate of Italy is what they call a Mediterranean climate. It is warm and dry all year round.

By the time Carrie gets home, she is "too full to eat". She has tried rice dishes from countries all over the world. Carrie and Anthony are lucky that "everybody cooks rice" in their neighborhood.

Adapted from Everybody Cooks Rice, by Norah Dooley (Scholastic Press, New York, NY, 1992)



1. Find out about traditions in your own family.

2. Find out if your family has a cherished family recipe.

3. Make a cookbook of these cherished recipes.


Make a chart that shows the country and the food dishes you have learned about in this lesson. Include the customs for the country if you know them.


  • neighbor
  • native
  • ethnic
  • turmeric
  • basmati
  • chopsticks
  • Creole

Click here to play Rice Rampage!
Anatomy of Rice:
Rice is a seed of cereal (grass) plant used for food. Click here to learn more about the Anatomy of Rice.
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