The Clay Marble

by Minfong Ho

7th Grade Language Arts - - - - - - - - - - Cody Middle School

Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Presentation Rubrics | Conclusion



The Clay Marble was written describing the life and struggles of a twelve-year-old girl and her family in war-torn Cambodia.

" Here is a moving and sensitive account told by someone who worked at camps on the Thai-Cambodian border. It is the story of families torn from their homes but bound by a love and determination that even war could not destroy." --Parents Magazine


The early 1980's in war-torn Cambodia created great struggle for the people left behind. You will become part of a team of agents enlisted to provide information for a health organization trying to provide help for the families in the refugee camps.

Your team will research the Cambodian people, their customs, living conditions, family struggles and political upheaval (strong or suddent change in political, social, or living conditions) of the time.

Content and Grade Level:

This unit was designed for use with a group of 7th grade students. It was created by a Language Arts teacher to be used in conjunction with Social Studies. It may be adapted for use with 6 + grades by adjusting the tasks to fit the student.


Your project will be divided into three areas:
  1. Forming teams
  2. Research
  3. Presentation

Forming Teams

Your team will be made up of four experts in Cambodian life. You must research the topic and complete a series of tasks. The success of your proposal to the health organization will be determined by your ability to work together as a team. After reviewing the roles, please identify the role each member of your team has selected. Team roles must be approved by your teacher.

- - - - - Political Reporter - - - - - Social Worker - - - - - Historian - - - - - Culture and Arts

Political Reporter:

Your job is to research the current political situation in Cambodia and report your findings. You should research the Wars in Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge. It is your job to find the facts about the current political unrest if any found there and present in the form of a news story for publication. You may also include pictures and other related current events found in current Cambodian newspapers online. You will be expected to write a news story and prepare a newspaper from Microsoft Word or other publishing software for presentation.

Social Worker:

Your job is to research the current living conditions of the people, especially the lives of those in the refugee camps. Find out what it really means to live in a refugee camp. This would include food, water, shelter, health care, medicine, sanitary conditions and other related topics. You will be required to prepare a Powerpoint presentation, iMovie, or series of posters to present the information collected. Your presentation must include at least 10 slides or posters.


Your job is to research the rich history of the Cambodian people. Find the map and flag of the country and research the kings and rulers of the people. Create a timeline of the rulers of Cambodia and be able to discuss changes in the ruling powers. Prepare a map and flag for display.

Culture and Arts:

You will be expected to research the customs and culture of the Cambodian people. Your job is to research the costumes worn and their purposes, the types of artwork and dance, and household items of daily life. Find music and pictures of daily family life and find out about the types of work that must be done. Prepare a Powerpoint presentation, iMovie or posters with pictures describing the above information and dress one of your team members in native costume. Your presentation must include at least 10 slides or posters.

When all of the members of your team complete their portion of the project, it will be crucial to work together to compile all of the information so that your presentation to the health organization is a complete success. Remember, you all need to work together as a team to make this project flow along without duplicating information or making one person do the majority of the work. Before you begin this venture, consider discussing with your team what you want each "expert" to cover and help each other continually organize data as you proceed through the project.

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The resources section will give you a variety of topics with links to help you with your search. Be sure to cite all references. A link is provided to help you cite properly. Internet sources must be included in all citations.

Political Reporter:
General Information
Khmer Rouge
Royal Embassy
Asia Observer
Cambodia Post
Cambodia - A Country Study
Political Structure

Social Worker:
Life in a refugee camp
Nong Chan Picture
Refugee camp
One Person's View of Khao I Dang Camp
Refugee admission to US
Life during the war

Historian :
History and Pictures
Angkor Wat Photographs
Rulers and Dictators
Virtual Tourof Sculpture of Angkor Wat
Cambodia - A Country Study
Historical Timeline
King Sihanouk
Rulers and Dictators
Angkor History
Angkor Wat Dance
Virtual Tour of Sculpture of Angkor Wat Dance
Historical Places

Culture and Arts:
Music history
Virtual Tour of Sculputure of Angkor Wat Dance
Dance, Spirit of Cambodia

Sites which includes pictures:



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You will be receiving both an individual and group grade on this project.

Individual Evaluation

Your individual grade will be based on teacher evaluation. In addition, individual grades will be given for meeting deadlines along the way.

Group Evaluation
Your group grade will be determined from the applicable rubric and from teacher observations. Click to see the rubric.


Presentation Rubrics:

Powerpoint / iMovie Presentation:
Newspapers Rubric:
Oral Presentations:


Through an in-depth look at the people of Cambodia, students will gain a greater understanding of life in a country going through significant political struggle, look at the lives of the general population and determine some of their struggles and their joys. The students will be able to identify everyday lifestyles of the people and look at the information from different perspectives. Presentations will be a culmination of the information gathered with the point of view of the team presented.

Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Presentation Rubrics | Conclusion

Much of the information above came from the following website. The contents were modified to fit the needs of our teachers and students. Thank you for the use of the material, content and pictures.

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