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Children Around The WorldChildren-Around-The-World

  • Subject: World History
  • |
  • Grade(s): K-5
  • |
  • Duration: Two class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will understand the following:
1. The privileges and responsibilities of childhood vary from culture to culture.


For this lesson, you will need:
Trade books and reference materials (including online sources) about children in at least four cultures outside the United States
Computer with Internet access


1. Once easier to define, the term family is now a challenging concept in the United States, where families take many forms. Given globalization, the term family will undoubtedly need further clarification as cultures around the world experience one another up close. Tell students that you want them to research one aspect of family—the role of children—in a variety of cultures outside the United States.
2. With a world map available as a resource, ask students, "If you could look at any part of the world, where would you want to go to learn about the role of children?" The four parts of the world covered in the documentary People around the World are
  • river towns on the Nile,
  • a rain forest in South America,
  • a Tibetan plateau, and
  • a Bangladesh rice farm.
However, you may feel free to have your students range further afield or stay closer to home in studying children in other cultures.
3. Before setting students loose on reference materials, determine the things they are particularly interested in learning about their peers in other parts of the world so that they can focus their research. Here are some questions students may want to concentrate on:
  • What kind of and how much education do children in the other culture get?
  • In what kind of home do the children live?
  • What, if any, high-tech tools do children have?
  • What kind of work are children expected to do to help the family?
4. Go over with students the trade books, reference books, and Web sites you have identified for them to explore, depending on which culture they are investigating.
5. Teach students the rudiments of research:
  • Writing down the name of the source that provides information
  • Looking for facts and opinions that answer their research questions
  • Writing down in one's own words facts and opinions from the source
6. Let students who are investigating the same culture work together, learning, first, to share reference materials and responsibilities and, then, to share findings.
7. Ask each group to select one student to represent it in a panel discussion on children around the world, for which you will be the moderator.
8. Go over the basics of panel discussions:
  • The panel is made up of experts on a preselected topic.
  • The discussion consists mostly of responses by the members of the panel to questions and comments from a moderator and from other members of the panel.
  • The questions can ask for facts or opinions.
9. Ask students what they think the moderator's responsibilities are. Explain the responsibilities as follows, if necessary, so that students will understand why you, as moderator, do what you do:
  • Setting up the room or auditorium to make discussion easy and to help the audience hear questions and responses
  • Explaining why the panel has been brought together
  • Introducing each member of the panel (There should be a name tent, or placard, for each panelist to sit behind.)
  • Clearly stating each question, directing it to the panel at large or to one individual, then giving other members of the panel a chance to respond
  • Calling on panelists who indicate they have questions for one another
  • Noting for the audience what points panelists seem to agree on and what points they seem to disagree on
  • Watching the time and eliminating some planned questions if necessary
  • Opening the floor to questions from the audience
  • Summing up the discussion and thanking participants and audience members
10. Go on to elicit or state the responsibilities of each member on the panel of child experts, as follows:
  • Becoming very familiar with the details of how children are raised and what their responsibilities are in a specific culture by doing research in primary and secondary sources
  • Preparing to respond to the overarching topic of the panel—the role of children in a given culture
  • Contributing to the discussion by listening actively and indicating that he or she has questions or comments about what another member has said
  • Giving copanelists time to respond; that is, not monopolizing the discussion
11. Proceed with the panel discussion. See "Evaluation," regarding a postmortem on the strengths and weaknesses of the participants.

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You will need to identify pictorial sources to use when asking students to describe childhood in other cultures.

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Discussion Questions

1. How do the geography and seasons of the regions studied affect children's lives there?
2. In general, what do you think of the jobs the children in the regions studied have to do? Debate whether or not the way the jobs are divided among the boys and girls in the regions studied is fair.
3. Compare and contrast your pets to the kind of pets children elsewhere in the world have.
4. Discuss advantages and disadvantages of living in a modern versus remote culture. Can people really be happy in either culture?
5. How would you go about modernizing the culture of the regions studied if the people were receptive to the idea?
6. How do children in other parts of the world show respect for their elders?

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With the students who will be in the audience for the panel discussion, consider developing an evaluation chart that they can each use to rate each participant. Qualities on which participants might be rated include the following:
  • Familiarity with details of the culture under investigation
  • Clear, easy-to-hear speaking skills
  • Level of participation
  • Quality of questions asked of other panelists
You may suggest that students use symbols to indicate how a participant performs on each measure—perhaps "+" for "good," "?" for "poor," and "*" for "excellent."
Collect the evaluation sheets. Review them, keeping your own evaluations of each student in mind. Meet with each participant individually to discuss the strengths and weaknesses.

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Ask students to create original games they might play if they lived in an isolated part of the world. Have students use materials on hand for props or equipment and teach the game to their classmates or to students in another class.

Public Opinion
Lead students through the process of polling people of various ages to determine their feelings and thoughts about children in their cultures.

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Suggested Readings

A is for Africa
Ifeoma Onyefula, Cobblehill Books, 1993
This Nigerian author's book of words and pictures shows us the many faces and worlds of African people.

Africa (Eyewitness Books)
Yvonne Ayo, Dorling Kindersley Books, 1995
Beautiful illustrations and brief descriptions describe life in Africa. Read about the social life and customs, history, clothes, myths, medicine, houses, musical instruments, and food of Africa.

Welcome to the Green House: a Story of the Tropical Rainforest
Jane Yolen, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1993
Read a description of the tropical rainforest and the life found there: animals, birds, fish, flora and fauna. Look at the beautiful pictures of this amazing world.

Buddhism (World Religions series)
Catherine Hewitt, Thomson Learning, 1995
This book describes the history and explains the beliefs and practices of Buddhism.

Susan L. Roth, Doubleday Book for Young Readers, 1994
This folktale tells the story of how Siddhartha became the Buddha, the Enlightened One.

Everybody Cooks Rice
Norah Dooley, Carolrhoda Books, nc., 1991
This wonderful story tells how rice is cooked in many different ways by families from different cultures. Try the many different recipes given at the end of the story!

Count Your Way Through Africa (through Korea, China, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia and the Arab world)
Carolrhoda Books, 1987-90
This is a wonderful series of books. In each one, you learn to read and pronounce the numbers from one through ten in these different languages as you learn about the land and people of the country.

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Exhibit Of Artifacts
Shows not-so-well-known examples of Egyptian artifacts. The pictures, along with descriptions, show statues from the Old and New Kingdoms, a loaf of bread, a model granary and a mummy.

Color Tour Of Egypt
Excellent graphics with descriptions of some of the better known historical sites associated with ancient Egypt.

Rosetta Stone
This is a delightful quiz for students, studying ancient Egypt, to use as a very simple self-assessment tool.

Basin Irrigation In Egypt
Provides info on artificial irrigation and has downloadable graphics of feeder canal and river basins.

Rainforest Facts
A detailed explanation of what the rainforest is, how its products help humanity, and how it is in danger of extinction.

Creepy, crawly, disgusting, yucky. Whether the rainforest or the Nile, you will find insects. This author gives detailed lessons, across the curriculum, on how to teach about insects.

Tibet Home Page
Gives the viewer a greater knowledge of the tenet of Buddhism, which is the core of understanding "Mustang."

Shangri-La Home Page
Tibet and the Himalayas are inextricably linked. The images of these peaks, whether aerial or land views, the bio-diversity of the flora and fauna of the area, show the variety of life found here.

Mustang: An Exhibition Of Paintings And Photographs
Shows the students vivid images of a world that is far removed from theirs. The text of the article is informative and the graphics, from an exhibit in a museum in Nepal, enhance the information.

The Children's Literature Web Guide
This Guide can be used across the curriculum by both parents and educators. By studying fairy tales, as well as traditonal and modern stories, students can compare their native literature.

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

speaker    ancient
Definition: Of or relating to times long past, especially those before the fall of the Western Roman Empire (A.D. 476).
Context: That is why Contru Rampache, the old lama, has come here to the ancient village of Mustang.

speaker    biodiversity (audio not available)
Definition: The condition of nature in which a wide variety of species live in a single area.
Context: For the benefit of generations after us, we should work to maintain biodiversity.

speaker    culture (audio not available)
Definition: A group of people who share a way of life, ideas, customs, and traditions.
Context: A group of people who share a way of life, ideas, customs, and traditions.

speaker    globalization (audio not available)
Definition: The process by which people all over the world share things and the world seems smallerica.
Context: By making it easier to communicate, the Internet is leading to globalization.

speaker    moderator (audio not available)
Definition: The person who directs the activity of a group of people called together for a discussion
Context: The success of presidential debates depends on the intelligence and discipline of the moderator, who asks questions and keeps track of time.

speaker    panel (audio not available)
Definition: A group of people chosen to do something such as discuss a topic or judge a competition.
Context: Everyone on the panel had the same opinions, so the discussion wasn't too interesting.

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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: history
Understands selected attributes and historical developments of societies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe.
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).

Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: history
Understands family life now and in the past, and family life in various places long ago.
Knows the ways that families long ago expressed and transmitted their beliefs and values through oral tradition, literature, songs, art, religion, community celebrations, mementos, food, and language (e.g., celebration of national holidays, religious observances, and ethnic and national traditions; visual arts and crafts; hymns, proverbs, and songs).

Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: history
Understands selected attributes and historical developments of societies.
Knows the effects geography has had on the different aspects of societies (e.g., the development of urban centers, food, clothing, industry, agriculture, shelter, trade).

Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: geography
Understands the characteristics and uses of maps, globes and other geographic tools and technologies.
Uses map grids (e.g., latitude and longitude or alphanumeric system) to plot absolute location.

Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: geography
Understands the physical and human characteristics of place.
Knows how the characteristics of places are shaped by physical and human processes (e.g., effects of agriculture in changing land use and vegetation; effects of settlement on the building of roads; relationship of population distribution to landforms, climate, vegetation or resources).

Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: geography
Understands global development and environmental issues.
Knows human-induced changes that are taking place in different regions and the possible future impacts of these changes (e.g., development and conservation issues in terms of the wetland of coastal New Jersey).

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Kathy Devine, teacher, Viers Mill Elementary School, Rockville, Maryland.

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