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The Ancient WorldThe-Ancient-World

  • Subject: Geography
  • |
  • Grade(s): K-8
  • |
  • Duration: Two to three class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will
  • identify reasons why people migrate;
  • describe the geography of the Fertile Crescent; and
  • describe what life was like in the Fertile Crescent during ancient times.



  1. Begin the lesson by talking about migration. Ask students: What is migration? What are some reasons that humans migrate today? After discussing why people migrate in modern times, talk about migrations in ancient times. A good way to introduce this information is to view portions of the TLC: Ancient Worlds episode.
  2. After watching The Ancient World , discuss the geography and environment of the Fertile Crescent. Ask students: Where is the Fertile Crescent located? Why did people migrate there during ancient times; what did they hope to find? What was life like there? What jobs did people have? Why did they leave? Discuss what life might have been like for the hunter-gatherers as they migrated to the Fertile Crescent and established communities there. Have students speculate about how it must have felt to leave these communities and make another migration across the Bering Strait. What dangers did these people face? How did they live?
  3. Tell students they are going to pretend that they live in ancient times and are part of an early migration to the Fertile Crescent or beyond. Some of their friends and family members have chosen, instead, to stay behind in North Africa. Their assignment is to write a letter to these people describing their experiences.
  4. Each student must write one letter. Students can choose who they address their letters to; however, they must describe one of these three times:
    1. Initial migration to the Fertile Crescent from North Africa
    2. Life after arriving in the Fertile Crescent
    3. Later migration from the Fertile Crescent, across the Bering Strait, to North America


  5. Tell students that their letters must include the following.
    1. Information about the geography they have encountered on their journey (or in the Fertile Crescent if they choose to write about life there).
    2. At least two reasons why they chose to migrate to the Fertile Crescent (or chose to migrate to North America, if that's the letter they're writing).
    3. At least two details about what life is like during the migration or while living in the Fertile Crescent — for example, how they are feeding, clothing, or housing themselves, and any discoveries or inventions made during this time.


  6. Be sure to explain that there were several different civilizations in the Fertile Crescent so not all students who choose to write about life there will have the same information. Allow students use of the Ancient Times episode, library materials, or the Internet to research facts for their letters. The following Web sites have useful information on the Fertile Crescent, Bering Strait, and ancient migrations:

  7. Allow time for students to read their finished letters aloud. As a class, discuss what students discovered about life in the Fertile Crescent and during the early migrations. Talk about the different civilizations they researched, and discuss some of the things that defined each civilization. Display the letters in the classroom so that students may read them on their own at a later time.

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points: Students actively participated in class discussions; used research materials wisely and without teacher guidance; wrote informative, well-written, and creative letters that addressed the established criteria and used correct punctuation, spelling, and grammar.
  • Two points: Students somewhat participated in class discussions; used research materials somewhat wisely and with little teacher guidance; wrote informative, somewhat well-written letters that addressed most of the established criteria and had very few spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.
  • One point: Students somewhat participated in class discussions; were unable to use research materials without teacher guidance; wrote disorganized letters that addressed only one or two of the established criteria and had numerous spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.

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Definition: An object remaining from a particular period, especially something created by humans and used for a specific purpose
Context: We conclude this from studying the artifacts and human remains found in East Africa.

Bering Strait
Definition: The narrow channel between Asia and North America
Context: According to one theory, hunter-gatherers pursuing wooly mammoths into Siberia eventually came upon the Bering Strait.

Definition: A society in an advanced state of social development
Context: The first steps had been taken to the great civilizations that would invent writing, develop warfare, and build empires.

Fertile Crescent
Definition: A semicircle of fertile land stretching from the southeast coast of the Mediterranean around the Syrian desert north of Arabia to the Persian Gulf
Context: Humans followed the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers from the Persian Gulf to the Middle Eastern lands along the Mediterranean Sea, tracing an arc that would become known as the Fertile Crescent.

Definition: A member of a society in which people obtain food by hunting, fishing, and foraging rather than by agriculture or animal husbandry
Context: These people were hunter-gatherers.

Definition: To move from one country, place, or locality to another
Context: This was the last great journey to populate the world, and like all other migrations, it was dictated by climate.

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The National Council for the Social Studies(NCSS) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of the NCSS, or to view the standards online, go to
This lesson plan addresses the following standards:
  • Culture
  • People, Places, and Environments
  • Global Connections
The National Council for Geographic Education(NCGE) provides 18 national geography standards that the geographically informed person knows and understands. To view the standards online, go to
This lesson plan addresses the following standards:
  • Places and Regions
  • Physical Systems
  • Environment and Society

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Tamar Burris, former elementary teacher and freelance education writer

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