Lesson Plan

Let’s Write! Butsudan

AL COS Standards
Language Arts: ELA 3.22.4 ELA 3.22.6 ELA 3.24.4 ELA 3.24.5 ELA 3.24.7 ELA 4.26.1 ELA 4.29.1 ELA 5.25.1 ELA 5.25.2 ELA 6.24.1 ELA 6.24.2 ELA 7.22.1 ELA 8.22.5 ELA 8.22.6
Social Studies: Objective 7G.4.1 Objective 7G.4.2 Objective 7G.5.1 Objective 8.3.1 Objective 8.3.2
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Have students watch The 5 W’s of Art: Butsudan (located in Related Resources section of this page)

Following the video, students will:

  • Write a descriptive sentence about the artwork
  • Think critically about 3 questions and write their answers
  • Write a brief story about devotion


  • Think critically about why objects were used in the past
  • Write a descriptive sentence about the Butsudan
  • Write sentences with correct capitalization and punctuation
  • Write a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end


  • Video: The 5 W’s of Art: Butsudan (video located at bottom of page)
  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil

Key Terms

  • Butsudan
  • Amida Buddha
  • Edo period
  • Lotus
  • Bodhisattva
  • Japan
  • Western Paradise
  • Buddhism


The teacher will:

  • Play Butsudan video
  • Help students formulate descriptive sentences



Have students share what they wrote, either to the class or in small groups.




When we put all the facts together, we can create one sentence that describes an artwork.

Here is my sentence:

This work of art is a Buddhist shrine called a butsudan and houses a sculpture of Amida Buddha for private devotion.


What is your 1 sentence about this artwork?



How would you describe this artwork? Use descriptive terms.

If you were making a shrine, what figures would you include?  

Shrines do not have to be Buddhist. Can you think of other examples of shrines?



Edo period Japan was a time when the economy was booming and the arts flourished. Private shrines, like the butsudan in the BMA’s collection, were ornate because the individual that commissioned (asked for the shrine to be made) could afford to have such a fancy shrine. The person who commissioned this beautiful shrine would have done so out of devotion. However, the historical Buddha was a prince that gave up his lavish lifestyle. He would have rejected something so nice.


Have your students write an essay on how they like to show devotion, such as religious devotion, devotion to their family, or devotion to their team. 

Have extra time?

Print the coloring sheet and encourage students to decorate the butsudan with the colors they would like to see in paradise.

Related Resources