Skip Discover Education Main Navigation
Skip Discover Education Main Navigation

Home> Teachers> Free Lesson Plans> Around The World

Around The WorldAround-The-World

  • Subject: Geography
  • |
  • Grade(s): K-5
  • |
  • Duration: Three class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will understand the following:
1. The world is made up of regions that are very different from each other in terms of climate, geography, animal life, and culture.
2. The United States itself contains a variety of climate zones and geographical features, abundant animal life, and many cultures.


For this lesson, you will need:
World map or globe
Printed and online reference materials
Outline maps of the countries studied
Computer with Internet access


1. The goal of this activity is to give students a good sense of some of the major geographical and cultural differences in the world with a focus on Antarctica, one part of Australia, parts of eastern Asia (Nepal and China), and one part of southwestern Asia (Oman), an area also known as the Middle East. On other imaginary trips around the world, you and your class will choose to focus on a different selection of countries and continents.
Begin by telling your students that they are going to imagine traveling to several parts of the world that you've picked out. Either now or as you go along, identify the parts of the world, and point them out on a large world map or a globe:
  • Antarctica
  • Australia
  • Nepal and China in Asia
  • Oman in the Middle East
Explain that you and the students will stay in each part of the world as long as it takes to gather at least four pieces of information about it:
  • A piece of information about its weather
  • A piece of information about its landforms
  • A piece of information about its animal life
  • A piece of information about its culture
Give students charts with rows labeled according to the world regions mentioned above and columns labeled according to the four different pieces of information students will search for in each region.
2. Tell students to imagine that they have just been flown to the continent known as Antarctica. Based on pictures and other reference materials that you will make available to students, have them tell you what they can figure out about Antarctica's weather, geography, and animals.
3. Tell or review with students that culture means "the way of life, ideas, customs, and traditions of a group of people." Go on to admit to students that it's hard to figure out what to say about the culture of the people in Antarctica because there are so few people living there. Nevertheless, ask students to think about the people who are sent to work in Antarctica with a few other people for many months at a stretch. Ask, "What are the advantages and disadvantages of being with a small number of other people for a long time?"
4. Challenge students to figure out how far it is from the northern tip of Antarctica to the Kimberley Plateau on the northern edge of Western Australia. Point out that by traveling from Antarctica to the Kimberley, students will find themselves in a land totally without snow. But this part of Australia has its own unusual climate (unusual by U.S. standards). After you tell students that one-half of the year in the Kimberley is known as the dry, ask them to guess what the other six months are known as. Follow up with other questions that students should be able to answer by checking reference materials: How wet does it get in the northern region of Australia during "the wet"? How do people travel in that region during the wet?
5. While it may be relatively simple for students to identify or describe the weather, the geography, and the animals in this part of Australia, you may have to help them learn about and appreciate the complicated array of its cultures, which, in part, includes the culture of the people descended from Europeans, the culture of the people descended from Asians, and the culture of the aborigines, who have lived in Australia for tens of thousands of years.
6. Continuing on your journey to observe weather, geography, animals, and culture in different parts of the world, tell students they are now going to visit the Himalayan mountains. Have them show you on a map or globe or explain by reference to compass points in what direction they can travel to get from the Kimberley in Australia to the Himalayas.
7. In the Himalayas, once again ask students to tell you what they notice about the weather, the geography, and the animals. As with the first two stops on your imaginary trip, it will be harder to figure out what to say about the cultures in the region—unless your school community has people who practice the religions of Asia—for example, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism.
8. The next stop is China. As with Australia, you should pick one area within China for your students' imaginary visit—say, the Hunan province. Once again, have students do research to identify weather, geography, and animals in Hunan. When it comes to culture in Hunan, your students should discover that China as a whole has one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Direct students to find out interesting facts about the Chinese language, holidays observed in China, and ancient arts of China.
9. Oman in the Middle East is the final stop on this world tour. Although technically still part of Asia, this stop will introduce your students to still another climate, geography, and animal population—as well as yet another set of cultures. In many parts of the United States, your students will include Islamic youngsters, so the other students should be able to learn about Islamic culture.
10. As your class returns from its world tour, a good way to wrap up this lesson about differences across the world is to review each of the areas' (1) climatic conditions, (2) geographical features, (3) animal life, and (4) cultures with the purpose of seeing which, if any, exist right here in the United States of America.

Back to Top


Younger students will have less background knowledge about the places "visited." Be prepared to share with them some interesting facts about the weather, geography, animals, and culture of each place. Also, for younger students, provide as many visual aids as possible.

Back to Top

Discussion Questions

1. Discuss possible reasons why explorers would decide to remain in Antarctica during the winter. Would you? What are some of the character traits that explorers like these might have? Identify some people you know who have these traits.
2. Consider and discuss the survival skills of Antarctic animals. How have they adapted to their challenging environment?
3. Describe the effects of the rainy season and evaluate the extent to which they are positive or negative.
4. Sometimes information about a country is given as an average. Why might it not be especially helpful to know about the average rainfall in this northern part of Australia?
5. Australia is both a continent and a country. Debate whether this is also true for Antarctica. Do the same for Greenland, usually considered the world's largest island and not a continent.
6. Why is a visit to Nepal like "coming to the roof of the world"? If Nepal is comparable to the "roof of the world," because of its mountainous location, what country or countries might be called the "basement of the world"?
7. Discuss the regard people may have for a lama. Back up your statements with any supporting evidence you can locate. Identify and describe any people you might hold in similar regard.
8. In the village of Mustang some boys will be selected to go away to school for 10 years. Discuss how they might feel about this experience. How would you feel?
9. Compare life in the village of Mustang to your life. What are the similarities and differences? Consider the extent to which people in both environments feel that their lives are full and complete. Discuss the elements contributing to the degree of satisfaction people, especially children, feel in both settings.
10. Compare the Chinese celebration of the New Year to other New Year's celebrations.
11. Part of the Chinese New Year's celebration is dedicated to the renewal of family ties and the chance to honor elders and ancestors. Discuss the extent to which you renew family ties and honor elders and ancestors during any of your celebrations during the year.
12. Banners appear on doorways to extend good wishes during the Chinese New Year's celebration. Paper lanterns appear on the last night. The red fire symbolizes prosperity and reenergizing of the spirit. Identify some of the symbols of your cultural celebrations and discuss what they mean or represent.
13. Mohammed regarded his pet camel as strong, fast, and determined. Discuss the qualities you see in your pet or the pet of someone you know. Then discuss what you think are the best ways of caring for a pet.
14. Compare schools in Oman or in another Middle Eastern country with your school. Consider improvements you might make to both.
15. Although Mohammed did not receive a prize for winning the camel race, he still regarded his victory as a great honor. Discuss the possibility of winning a contest, but not receiving a prize. Describe what you think your feelings might be.

Back to Top


You can evaluate your students' filled-in charts according to the following three-point rubric:
Three points: completely filled in; content correct; no errors in spelling or mechanics
Two points: mostly filled in; content mostly correct; some errors in spelling or mechanics
One point: sparsely filled in; content mostly incorrect; many errors in spelling or mechanics

Back to Top


Antarctica Time Line
Invite students to create a time line showing the explorations of Antarctica from its discovery in 1820 to the present. Have students note names and nationalities of explorers who have traveled to various sites.

First Moon Celebration
To highlight Chinese culture, hold a First Moon celebration in your class in honor of the lunar new year. Consider making costumes, banners, paper lanterns; organizing a parade; or thinking of ways to demonstrate respect for family members.

Have students fill in outline maps of any of the continents or countries studied, noting bordering countries or bodies of water, marking the capital, and indicating areas rich in natural resources.

Back to Top

Suggested Readings

Antarctica: The Last Unspoiled Continent
Laurence Pringle. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1992.

Summer Ice: Life Along the Antarctic Peninsula
Bruce McMillan. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1995.

Brian Cosgrove. Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

Exploration into Australia
Kate Darian-Smith. New Discovery Books, 1996.

Catherine Hewitt. Thomson Learning, 1995.

Ann Heinrichs. Children's Press, 1996.

Happy New Year! Kung-Hsi Fa-Ts'ai!
Demi. Crown Publishers, Inc., 1997.

Voices of the Heart
Ed Young. Scholastic Press, 1997.

Desert Animals
Michael Chinery. Random House, 1992.

The Three Princes: A Tale from the Middle East
Eric A. Kimmel. Holiday House, 1994.

Back to Top


Australian Wilderness Photo Galleries

Destination Nepal

China the Beautiful

Back to Top


Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    blizzard
Definition: A long severe snowstorm.
Context: The winter winds blowing over the ice can quickly turn into a blinding white blizzard.

speaker    continent
Definition: One of the six or seven great divisions of land on the globe.
Context: At the Earth's southern pole is the continent of Antarctica.

speaker    floodplain
Definition: Level land that may be submerged by floodwaters.
Context: A long season of scorching summer sun has baked the floodplain.

speaker    monsoon
Definition: The season in India and adjacent areas characterized by very heavy rainfall.
Context: The coming of the monsoon means a lot of rain for this area.

speaker    tropical
Definition: A region or climate that is frost-free, with temperatures high enough to support year-round plant growth if there is sufficient moisture.
Context: The far northern territory of Australia is a tropical region.

speaker    ancient
Definition: Having had an existence of many years.
Context: That is why Contru Rampache, the old lama, has come here to the ancient village of Mustang.

speaker    customs
Definition: Long-established practices.
Context: They learn about the people, language, arts, and customs of that country.

speaker    temple
Definition: A building or structure for religious purposes.
Context: The old lama can see this as he arrives the next day at the temple.

speaker    ancestors
Definition: One from whom a person is descended.
Context: For him and his family, the First Moon holiday offers the chance to renew family ties, honor ancestors, and enjoy the fun and entertainment of the celebration.

speaker    full moon
Definition: The moon with its whole apparent disk illuminated.
Context: The celebration will last for 15 days—from new moon to full moon.

speaker    lunar
Definition: Relating to the moon.
Context: One is the solar new year and the other is the lunar new year.

speaker    new moon
Definition: The moon's phase when it passes between the sun and the Earth and its dark side faces Earth.
Context: The celebration will last for 15 days—from new moon to full moon.

speaker    climate
Definition: The average course or condition of the weather at a place usually over a period of years.
Context: Camels really are built to survive in the hot, dry climate of the desert.

speaker    dates
Definition: The edible fruit of a palm.
Context: Today she is having dates for dessert.

speaker    desert
Definition: Arid barren land.
Context: Mohammed and his sister, Veda, live with their parents in a home very close to the desert.

speaker    veils
Definition: A length of cloth worn by women as a covering for the head and shoulders.
Context: The girls cover their heads with veils.

Back to Top


This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: K-2
Subject area: geography
Understands the concept of regions.
Knows areas that can be classified as regions according to physical criteria (e.g., landform regions, soil regions, vegetation regions, climate regions, water basins) and human criteria (e.g., political regions, population regions, economic regions, language regions).

Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: geography
Knows the physical processes that shape patterns on Earth's surface.
Knows how Earth's position relative to the Sun affects events and conditions on Earth (e.g., how the tilt of the Earth in relation to the Sun explains seasons in different locations on Earth, how the length of day influences human activity in different regions of the world).

Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: geography
Knows the physical processes that shape patterns on Earth's surface.
Understands how physical processes help to shape features and patterns on Earth's surface (e.g., the effects of climate and weather on vegetation, erosion and deposition on landforms, mud slides on hills).

Grade level: K-2, 3-5
Subject area: geography
Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.

(K-2)Knows the basic components of culture (e.g., language, social organization, beliefs and customs, forms of shelter, economic activities, and education systems).

(3-5)Knows the similarities and differences in characteristics of culture in different regions (e.g., in terms of environment and resources, technology, food, shelter, social organization, beliefs and customs, schooling, and what girls and boys are allowed to do).

Grade level: K-4
Subject area: history
Understands selected attributes and historical developments of societies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe.

(K-2)Knows the holidays and ceremonies of different societies (e.g., Christmas celebrations in Scandinavia, Germany, or England; Cinco de Mayo; the Chinese New Year; the Japanese tea ceremony; harvest and spring festivals).

(3-5)Understands various aspects of family life, structures, and roles in different cultures and in many eras (e.g., medieval families, matrilineal families in Africa, extended families in China).

Grade level: K-4
Subject area: history
Understands selected attributes and historical developments of societies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe.

(K-2)Knows the holidays and ceremonies of different societies (e.g., Christmas celebrations in Scandinavia, Germany, or England; Cinco de Mayo; the Chinese New Year; the Japanese tea ceremony; harvest and spring festivals).

(3-5)Understands various aspects of family life, structures, and roles in different cultures and in many eras (e.g., medieval families, matrilineal families in Africa, extended families in China).

Back to Top


Tish Raff, teacher and administrator, Sequoyah Elementary School, Derwood, Maryland.

Back to Top