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Mongolian Herders’ Homes

Quick! Pack your yurt in a camel-drawn cart! Join nomadic shepherds in Mongolia as you roam central Asia’s steppes to find greener pastures for your animals.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. For hundreds of years, Mongolian nomads have been on the move in search of pastures for their yaks, goats, sheep, cows, camels, and horses. Ask students how this way of life may have affected their housing. What materials do they use to construct their yurts? Invite students to investigate more about these people who live much like than ancestors did. Organize text and electronic resources to assist with this study.
    2. Provide time for students to share their learning in small groups or as a whole class experience. Then have students prepare to make a replica of their portable homes called gers (yurt in Turkish). Here are some suggestions to get started.
    3. Use Crayola Model Magic® Naturals or blend white Model Magic with color from Crayola Washable Multicultural Markers to create the color of felt used by the nomads. On a cardboard base, place a ring of Crayola Model Magic. Insert craft sticks into the Model Magic to form the rounded skeleton of the ger. Or cover a round recycled plastic container such as a margarine tub with Model Magic.
    4. Doors on gers face south and have intricate carvings. Students use craft sticks to carve door designs in the modeling compound. With Crayola Scissors, cut fabric to drape over or inside the ger. Remind students that the home must be ready to pack up and be on the move within an hour!
    5. Ask students to imagine guests are coming to their yurt. What do would serve them? Airag (mares’ milk) is traditionally offered to visitors. Share what you’ve learned with your classmates as graciously as you would welcome visitors to your ger during this visit.
  • Standards

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Describe how people create places that reflect ideas, personality, culture, and wants and needs as they design homes, playgrounds, classrooms, and the like.

    SS: Examine the interaction of human beings and their physical environment, the use of land, building of cities, and ecosystem changes in selected locales and regions.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: The Rise and Fall of the Second Largest Empire in History: How Genghis Khan's Mongols Almost Conquered the World by Thomas J. Craughwell; Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford; The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford

    Once students have completed their model gers, encourage them to add people dressed in appropriate clothing for the climate, animals indigenous to the area, and steppes to create a realistic scene.

    Students compare the lives of Mongolian nomads to shepherds in other parts of Asia such as Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Identify the area known as the steppes of Asia on a map. What is the terrain and weather like there?

    Mongolian shepherds produce wool, cashmere, etc. Students learn more about farming inn Mongolia and organize their findings into an electronic presentation for classmates.


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