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Silk Road Treasures & Traders

Invite your students to trace the 7,000-mile-long Silk Road with traders and their camels. Imagine traveling across the treacherous mountains, deserts, and steppes, yesterday and today.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. The Silk Road meandered from Chang'an, China, to the shores of the eastern Mediterranean. Marco Polo, Alexander the Great, and other famous men are associated with it. Bandits and rough terrain made the trip extremely dangerous to camel caravans. Why, then, was this trading route used for so long, from about the 4th century BCE until the 14th century?
    2. Working individually or in collaborative groups, students research key roles the Silk Road played in shaping world history. What products were carried back and forth? How long did it take to travel? How were people’s lives influenced? Find maps that show the numerous parts of the Silk Road. Students dispaly learning with a diorama such as the one shown here.
    3. With Crayola® Scissors, students cut construction paper to cover a box. Attach the paper to the box with Crayola School Glue. Air-dry the glue.
    4. With Crayola Markers, students sketch a map showing part or all of the Silk Road. Color the various routes, names of continents or countries, and other details.
    5. Crayola Neon Model Magic can be used to mold camels. When Model Magic is fresh from the pack it sticks to itself. Add colorful rugs on the camels’ backs. Fill their baskets with treasures such as gold and silk. Air-dry the camels overnight.
    6. Glue camels on the map. Air-dry the diorama before presenting information about the Silk Road to classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    MATH: Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.

    SCI: Obtain information about the locations of a variety of Earth’s features and map the geographic patterns that emerge.

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

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    SS: Give examples of and explain group and institutional influences such as religious beliefs, laws, and peer pressure, on people, events, and elements of culture.

    SS: Give examples of conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and nations.

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

    VA: Describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are integrated with the visual arts.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Stories From The Silk Road by Cherry Gilchrist; The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History by John S. Major; DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient China by Arthur Cotterell; Silk Road by Janey Levy; Adventures on the Ancient Silk Road by Priscilla Galloway & Dawn Hunter

    Students work in small groups to create a world map. Document the entire Silk Road on the map. Include all products that may have been traded along the route and show the varied routes that ancient merchants traveled.

    Students write an imaginary journal of a trip along a portion of the Silk Road, either historic or contemporary. What people did you meet? What do they eat? How do they dress? What could you trade with them?

    The ancient Chinese are known for their many inventions and technological advancements including calendars, gunpowder, printing, silk, papermaking, and the compass. Student groups research Chinese inventions and present their research in an organized, electronic format.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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