East & Southeast Asia
Cambodia Lesson Plans
Long an immigrant city, Lowell, Massachusetts, is well known as the home of one of the largest Cambodian populations in the United States. Thanks to a grant from the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation, ten K-12 Lowell teachers in partnership with Primary Source created more than twenty interdisciplinary lessons on Cambodia to better engage their students and generate understanding of their histories and cultures. Access lessons individually below or view all 20 in our Lowell Lesson Plans Resource Guide.
Cambodia: Past and Present
Carrie Powers-So, Lowell Public Schools
These lessons focus on the history of Cambodia beginning in the Funan Period extending to modern time. Through Cambodian literature, written reflections, slide shows and film, this integrated unit is targeted for grade eight students who will learn about Cambodia in their English, social studies, and writing classes.
Genocide, Social Conflicts, and the "Upstander"
Kristen Colon, Lowell Public Schools
These lessons are a culminating project for a novel unit on Children of the River by Linda Crew. The book shares the struggles of Sundara, a Cambodian teenager who escapes from the Khmer Rouge and ends up in an American high school in Oregon.
How Does my Cambodian Culture Affect Who I Am as a Student in the United States?
Kristen Eschmann, Lowell Public Schools
Students will compare their Cambodian school culture to that of the United States. They will address the similarities and differences and will discuss the preconceived notions they had about school in America and how their culture affects who they are as students in the American school system.
Music and Dance: New Year's Celebrations
Rita Green, Lowell Public Schools
Students will explore themes and methods of celebration that are common in many cultures while learning to sing and play an instrumental accompaniment for a Cambodian song and explore formal and informal dance traditions of the Cambodian culture.
New Year's Celebrations
Fran Sacco, Lowell Public Schools
Students will identify and record the big idea behind New Year's celebrations in Cambodia as well as in the United States.
Resilience of the Spirit: Luong Ung's Story of Survival, First They Killed My Father and Cambodian History
Deborah Romeo and Mark Souza, Lowell Public Schools
These lessons will engage students in Luong Ung's memoir First They Killed My Father, teaching them about life before and during the Khmer Rouge.
Rice in Cambodia
Cathy Boucher and Rosemary Reppucci, Lowell Public Schools
Each lesson revolves around one of the five themes of geography (Location, Place, Region, Movement, and Human Environmental Interaction.) In the sixth lesson, students make cookbooks of rice recipes from Cambodia and other countries from our student population.
Rural Life in Cambodia
Miriam Morgenstern, Lowell Public Schools
The purpose of these three lessons is to provide students with an overview of Cambodian rural life through lecture, reading, and writing.
China Lesson Plans
Using Historic Film to Teach about China
Carolyn Platt, Program Consultant, Primary Source and Jennifer Hanson, Librarian, Primary Source
This lesson plan brings moving images into the classroom through a National Endowment for the Humanities grant with Northeast Historic Film. Based on the film clip, "Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing" from the Charles Gilbert Collection, this lesson introduces upper elementary students to different modes of transportation in early 20th Century China as seen through American eyes.
The Chinese Dragon: A Powerful Metaphor in Chinese Cultural History
A Curriculum Unit Developed to Support the Grade 4 Gifted and Talented Program
by Judy Botsford, Retired Librarian, Runkle School, Brookline, Massachusetts
This web unit includes several lessons, classroom activities, a slide show, as well as web and bibliographic links. It uses the motif of the dragon in Chinese folklore to discuss aspects of Chinese literature, mythology and political history. This unit was designed by a librarian to be used by classroom teachers in cooperation with library-media specialists.
Inventions and Technology of the Ancient Chinese
by Kathy Simpson, Carlisle, Massachusetts
This unit contains 3 lessons for students to creatively engage with the ancient Chinese inventions of the compass, wheelbarrow and kite. There is a rubric for assessment. It also suggests other topics such as the decimal system, seismograph, lacquer ware, rockets, and silk. It recommends an Invention Fair as a culminating activity.
China: One of the World’s Greatest Civilizations
by Jessica Germain, Sandra Lovett, and Lara SanGiovanni, Silver Lake Regional Schools, Pembroke, Massachusetts
The authors of this unit define the characteristics of "civilization" and present Chinese culture and history in light of these characteristics. The original eight-week unit is available in the Primary Source library; four lessons are presented here: an introduction to the elements of civilization, Chinese dynasties, Chinese philosophy and the importance of silk to China's economic history.
The Rise of State Level Society in Ancient China for grades 4-7
by Ellen Marshall, Boston Public Schools, Boston, Massachusetts
This unit presents the earliest history of China, from the Neolithic period to the Shang dynasty, in order to introduce students to the development of "state level" (i.e. "civilized") societies.
- Two lesson plans and three student activities are presented here on-line; the full unit is available in the Primary Source library.
- Target grades: This unit of study was designed for students in grades four through seven. In several of the lessons, separate activities are provided for grades 4/5 from grades 6/7.
- Topics: geography, archeology, mythology, oracle bones, Chinese writing
The Chinese Family in the Twentieth Century
by Cara Abraham, Brookfield High School, Brookfield, Connecticut
This unit of social history examines Traditional Chinese Family Values, Revolutionary Chinese Family Values (1950-1980) and Modern Chinese Family Values (1980-present).
- Length: The entire unit can fill seven weeks (35 days) if every activity is completed, but teachers can easily omit or add activities.
- Target grades: 11th /12th (many activities appropriate for 9th/10th grades)
- Teaching activities utilize Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences theory (linguistic, logical, spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal).
- Topics: Confucianism, Cultural Revolution, Tian'anmen Square Demonstrations, one-child policy, economic reforms
Contemporary Chinese Peasant Painting for grades 1-12
by Renee Covalucci, former program associate, Primary Source, Watertown, Massachusetts
This form of painting became popular during the Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976). Images depicting people's every day lives became a natural focus under the regime of Chairman Mao. Artists in places like Hu County in Shaanxi Province (near Xi'an), where these painting were made, were discovered and became popular. This particular series of Peasant Paintings, by a mature, female artist named Dong, were done in a studio production method.
The peasant paintings depict festivals and daily routines: preparing food, doing laundry, traditional parades (lanterns, dragons), animals and fish. Some tell stories with symbolism. This curriculum resource will provide potential lesson topics and areas of discovery and a set of images for teachers of art, Chinese culture & history at elementary, middle and high school levels. The paintings may serve as supplementary visuals for K-8 teachers of science, and geography.
The United States
Discovering Boston's Civil Rights Story (PDF)
This curriculum is designed to help make the Boston Civil Rights Movement real to students today. It includes activities and primary source materials that introduce students to firsthand accounts of events that occurred between 1960 and 1968. Each lesson plan suggests ways for students to study specific documents so that students can understand the history they reveal. Web addresses are also provided so that students can access for themselves, these materials - and more - as they discover the little known struggle for civil rights in Boston.
Black History Month website from Primary Source
This site created by Primary Source provides teachers with a key event in African American history for every day of February. For each key event, the site provides links to websites which may include primary sources and lesson ideas.
Curriculum Units on African American History
Four curriculum units from our five-volume sourcebook on African American history, Making Freedom, are available online free from our publisher, Heinemann. They cover topics including slavery, free blacks during slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Select the Sample tab on the Making Freedom sales page.
View curriculum from the sourcebooks Making Freedom, or buy online.
Tea Party for 19th Century American Activists (PDF file)
Mariann Nogrady / Brown Middle School, Newton, MA
These lessons introduce students to less familiar abolitionists like David Walker and Harriet Jacobs, as well as Southern slavery apologists like George Fitzhugh. They speak to the complex and multifaceted American response to slavery in the 19th century. In this sequence, students will take on the role of a 19th century activist and attend a tea party at which they will explain and promote the ideas, opinions and values of their character.
Students choose a historical figure, read a short primary source by that person, and then participate in various “tea party” activities. The sequence of lessons will take approximately five days. Primary source readings for twenty activists or thinkers are available online at PBS's Africans in America site.