• Angkor What? Angkor Wat!

    The"Terrace of Elephants" at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

    Beginning in the 9th century the Khmer empire, which was based in what is today northwestern Cambodia, began to gather power and territory in mainland Southeast Asia. It would grow to be one of the largest empires in Southeast Asian history. In this lesson, students will learn about Angkor Wat and its place in Cambodian, and Southeast Asian, history. Students will attempt to “read” the temple, in a way which resembles the reading of a primary document, to gain insight into this history.

  • Lesson 4: Non-British Surnames

    Last names as we know them now

    Modern American society is known for its ethnic diversity, and this, of course, is reflected in a wide variety of surnames. In this activity, students will learn about the origins and meanings of surnames commonly used in the United States that derive from non-British cultures.

  • Lesson 5: On the Road with Marco Polo: Marco Polo in China

    A map of Marco Polo's route to and from China.

    After a long trek across the Gobi Desert, Marco Polo, his father, and his uncle finally arrived at the Shangdu, the summer palace of Kublai Khan. At this time, most of Asia was under control of the Mongols, a nomadic people whose homeland was in the Gobi.

  • Lesson 7: On the Road with Marco Polo: From Hormuz to Venice

    A map of Marco Polo's route to and from China.

    Marco Polo was on the last leg of his journey home from China to Venice. After visiting several seaports in India, he and his party sailed across the Arabian Sea and to the mouth of the Persian Gulf, landing at the port city of Hormuz, where they decided to travel eastward across Asia following a land route.

  • Marco Polo Takes A Trip

    A map of Marco Polo's route to and from China.

    During the Middle Ages, most people in Europe spent their entire lives in the village where they were born. But in the 13th century, a young Italian named Marco Polo traveled all the way to China! In this lesson, students will learn about the remarkable travels of Marco Polo.

  • Haven't I Seen You Somewhere Before? Samsara and Karma in the Jataka Tales

    Malaysian Buddha figurine.

    Many English speakers are familiar with the Sanskrit word karma, which made its way into the language during the first half of the nineteenth century. It is often used in English to encapsulate the idea that “what goes around comes around.” This lesson plan is designed to bring the meaning of karma and the related concept of samsara to life through the reading of the Jataka Tales.

  • Life in the Floating World: Ukiyo-e Prints and the Rise of the Merchant Class in Edo Period Japan

    Portrait of Nakayama, Kabukidô Enkyô

    The Edo Period (1603-1868) in Japan was a time of great change. The merchant class was growing in size, wealth, and power, and artists and craftsmen mobilized to answer the demands and desires of this growing segment of society. Perhaps the most well known art form that gained popularity during this period was the woodblock print, which is often referred to as ukiyo-e prints. In this lesson students will learn about life in Japan during the Edo period through an investigation of ukiyo-e prints.

  • The Korean War: "Police Action," 1950–1953

    U.S. troops storming the beach at Inchon, South Korea, September 15, 1950.

    In 1950, North Korean forces, armed mainly with Soviet weapons, invaded South Korea in an effort to reunite the peninsula under communist rule. This lesson will introduce students to the conflict by having them read the most important administration documents related to it.

  • Lesson 4: The Failure of Diplomacy, September–December 1941

    A Japanese torpedo bomber over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941.

    Faced with crippling economic sanctions imposed by the United States, the Japanese government decided in September 1941 to prepare for war to seize the raw materials that they were now unable to obtain from America. Students in this lesson will put themselves in the shoes of U.S. and Japanese diplomats in the final months of 1941.

    Lesson Plans: Grades 3-5
    Curriculum Unit

    What's In A Name? (4 Lessons)

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    The Unit

    Overview

    MacDonald. Carpenter. Underwood. Green. These are typical American names that reflect a family's British origins—but they tell us little about the people who currently bear them. How times have changed! In the Middle Ages, a person's second name served a useful function. In some cases, it revealed where he lived; in others, it told who his father was, what he did for a living, or even what he looked like.

    In this unit, students will learn about the origins of four major types of British surnames. They will consult lists to discover the meanings of specific names and later demonstrate their knowledge of surnames through various group activities. They will then compare the origins of British to certain types of non-British surnames. In a final activity, the students will research the origins and meanings of their own family names.

    Guiding Questions

    • What are the origins of British surnames?
    • What did these names once tell about the people who bore them?
    • What similarities exist between British and non-British surnames?
    • How can we find the origins of our own surnames?

    Learning Objectives

    • Explain how and why surnames came to be
    • Describe four types of British surnames and give examples of each
    • Compare the derivations of British and certain non-British surnames
    • Tell the origin and meaning of their own surnames

    Preparation Instructions

    Become familiar with the materials used in the lesson plan. Locate and bookmark websites you plan to use. Download and duplicate charts used in the activities. Secure several copies of a local phonebook for the Assessment exercise in Lesson 3.

    You can find additional background information about surnames at the following sites:

    The Lessons

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    3-5

    Subject Areas
    • Art and Culture > Subject Matter > Anthropology
    • History and Social Studies > Place > Europe
    • History and Social Studies > Place > The Americas
    • History and Social Studies > World > The Medieval World (500 CE-1500 CE)
    • History and Social Studies > Place > The Middle East
    • History and Social Studies > Place > Asia
    Skills
    • Critical thinking
    • Cultural analysis
    • Discussion
    • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
    • Interpretation
    • Logical reasoning
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions