K-12 World Curriculum
- Other Topics
History and Summary
For decades, China stood out as one of the leading countries in the world. China outpaced the majority of the world in the arts and sciences, but the 19th and 20th centuries brought much civil unrest, major famines, military outbreaks and foreign occupation.
After the turmoil in the country’s historical development ceased, the industrious, courageous and intelligent Chinese people of all nationalities collectively created a great civilization. China is the third-largest country in the world, after Russia and Canada. It covers 6 million square miles and spans across 60 longitudinal degrees. China is located between North Korea and Vietnam in eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea and South China Sea.
The full name of China is “The People’s Republic of China.” The country’s population tops 1.3 billion. Its capital city of Beijing has a population of 12 million.
There are five main religions of the people of China: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and other Christian denominations. Because of the size and large population of China, many religions grew and matured in the old nation.
Today, China has evolved into a land of beauty and fascination, and it welcomes tourists every day. Continue exploring these sites and see for yourself what China is all about:
Interactive Maps of China
Pictures of China
- Have the students use a languages resource page. Tell students to explore the Chinese language and have them learn a few things in Chinese. (i.e., students learn to count to 10 in Chinese or say hello, good bye, “Hi my name is…”)
- Have students search through the photos of China and find an interesting picture. (It works better if they choose something like the Marco Polo Bridge or the Majestic Mountains.) Have the students research further to find interesting facts pertaining to that picture.
- Have students review the general information on China. Tell them to find several facts about China, such as type of people, populations of the country and cities, religions, foods, cultures, etc. Students should understand the entire culture of China because it will give them a better notion of what the country is all about.
History and Summary
The home of the Taj Mahal, one of the seven modern wonders of the world, India is the second-most populous country in the world, the seventh-largest in area and the most populous democracy.
India is also one of the oldest civilizations in the world and has achieved a large amount of socioeconomic progress over the last 60 years of its independence. It has become self-sufficient in agriculture and the world’s third-largest economy in purchasing power. It is now the 10th industrialized country in the world.
Home to the Indus Valley civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four major world religions–Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism—originated here, while Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism arrived in the first millennium C.E. and shaped the region’s variegated culture.
India is located in the northern hemisphere and is bordered by Pakistan and Afghanistan to the northwest; China, Bhutan and Nepal to the north; Myanmar to the east; and Bangladesh to the west. The mainland comprises four regions: the great mountain zone, plains of the Ganga and the Indus, the desert region and the southern peninsula.
It is hard to escape thinking about the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who has inspired many people, much like Martin Luther King Jr., with his non-violent stance in attaining independence for India. India achieved independence from the British on Aug. 15, 1947.
The Indian flag is a tricolor (saffron, white and green) with an Ashoka chakra (24 spokes represent the 24 hours of the day).
Continue to explore the fun and exciting facts about India.
History, Population, Geography and General Information
Pictures of India
Discover the United Kingdom
History and Summary
The United Kingdom (U.K. for short) is known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain consists of Scotland, England and Wales.
The people of the U.K. are mostly considered English, at 81.5 percent of the population, and Scottish, at 9.6 percent of the population. English is spoken mostly throughout the U.K., while Welsh accounts for about 26 percent of the population of Wales and a Scottish form of Gaelic is spoken by about 60,000 people in Scotland.
London, the biggest city in all of the U.K., is the capital. The countries operate on a constitutional monarchy form of government. England has been a unified entity since the 10th century; Great Britain has been under the leadership of Queen Elizabeth II since February of 1952. The heir to the throne is Prince Charles, son of the Queen.
Today, the U.K. is a leading trading and financial power as well as a world leader. The U.K. has struggled through much turmoil and has rebuilt itself after the world wars into a modern and prosperous European nation.
To discover more about the U.K., use these links:
Pictures of the U.K.
Discover the European Union
History and Summary
The European Union (EU) is a family of democratic European countries committed to working together for peace and prosperity. The EU was designed to operate much like the “United States of Europe.” Its member states have set up common institutions to which they delegate some of their sovereignty, so that decisions on matters of joint interest can be made democratically at a European level. This pooling of sovereignty is also called “European integration.”
The idea of European integration was conceived to prevent such killing and destruction that had happened during the world wars. French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman first proposed the idea in a speech on May 9, 1950. This date, the “birthday” of what is now the EU, is celebrated annually as Europe Day.
There are five EU institutions, each playing a specific role:
- European Parliament (elected by the peoples of the member states)
- Council of the European Union (representing the governments of the member states)
- European Commission (driving force and executive body)
- Court of Justice (ensuring compliance with the law)
- Court of Auditors (controlling sound and lawful management of the EU budget)
These are flanked by five other important bodies:
- European Economic and Social Committee (expresses the opinions of organized civil society on economic and social issues)
- Committee of the Regions (expresses the opinions of regional and local authorities)
- European Central Bank (responsible for monetary policy and managing the euro currency)
- European Ombudsman (deals with citizen complaints about maladministration by any EU institution or body)
- European Investment Bank (helps achieve EU objectives by financing investment projects)
The rule of law is fundamental to the European Union. All EU decisions and procedures are based on the treaties, which all the EU countries agreed on. Initially, the EU consisted of just six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined in 1973; Greece in 1981; Spain and Portugal in 1986; and Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995. In 2004, the biggest single enlargement took place with 10 new countries joining.
Europe is a continent with many different traditions and languages, but it also has shared values. The EU defends these values. It fosters cooperation among the people of Europe, promoting unity while preserving diversity and ensuring that decisions are taken as close as possible to the citizens.
The European Union website gives all the information ever needed concerning the EU.
Other General Information sites:
- Delegation of the European Commission to the United States
- University of California Berkeley Library
- Have students choose a section, or smaller topic, concerning the EU and research it. Research should include topic overview, future of the topic, current issues and a presentation. Other topics may include the euro, environmental issues, enlargement and the constitution.
- Use the monetary curriculum materials information to explore more about the euro. Design and teach the banknotes and coins of the euro and have students practice exchanging monies. Also, go over which countries in the EU are members of the euro and which are not, and why and why not these countries are members.
- Have students compare and contrast the European Union and the United States. What are the differences, similarities? Is the EU trying to become a United States of Europe?
- Have each student in the class choose an EU member country and research that country. Discover the history of the country and why it became a member of the European Union.
Model United Nations
Model United Nations is an authentic simulation of the U.N. General Assembly, U.N. Security Council or other multilateral body, which catapults students into the world of diplomacy and negotiation.
In Model U.N., students step into the shoes of ambassadors of U.N. member states, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, to debate current issues on the organization’s vast agenda. The students, better known as “delegates” in Model U.N., prepare draft resolutions, plot strategy, negotiate with supporters and adversaries, resolve conflicts and navigate the U.N.’s rules of procedure—all in the interest of mobilizing international cooperation and resolving problems that affect almost every country on Earth.
To learn more about Model United Nations, check out the United Nations CyberSchoolBus.
Have you ever sat down and thought about what people did before money was created? How did people buy things? How did people exchange goods and services? Money today is something that we start to learn about at a very young age. Whether it is dollars, euros, rubles, pesos or pounds, money is a powerful tool within the global marketplace.
Today, money is a fact of life, and there are many different currencies that we operate under. Think about American Indians, who lugged around strands of beads that represented money. This form of currency was known at Wampum and was adopted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony as legal tender in 1637. From there, we moved on to Continentals, which were used to finance the American Revolutionary War. Green Backs were then used to finance the Civil War. Today, we use what are known as Federal Reserve Notes.
Whether we like it or not, money is probably here to stay. The United States is changing the look of its currency, and it seems as though electronic money is the latest fad. We are calling this digital cash and we are already exchanging it over the Internet and through debit cards. Where will the future take us with money?
Explore these sites to learn more about money:
History of Money
Currencies of the World
- Get in groups of four or five and brainstorm about what you think the future of money will be. Will we have money or will we use a different way to acquire the things we need? If we use money, will it be made out of paper or metal, or will it be made out of something totally different? Draw an example of the way things will be bought in the future.
- Talk to your students about exchange rates and how they change daily. Look at the exchange rate link above and do conversions using calculators. Work individually, in pairs or as a class, depending on the grade level.
Breaking the Language Barrier
Language today is an important aspect of every culture. Each language in its own way introduces us to the rich aspect of its native country’s culture, civilization and sophistication.
When asking where languages come from, many of us think German comes from Germany, French from France, etc. Actually, if we go back a few thousand years, those languages were not even heard of in respect to that country or area of land. More specifically, some of those languages did not even exist.
It appears that the use of language came from several different places. Today, there are more than 6,000 languages spoken throughout the world. The top language is Chinese because of sheer population, while English and Spanish are about tied for second place, French and Arabic are about tied for third, and Russian and Hindi follow close behind.
Languages are important in any aspect of business, travel, culture and mere communication. Language, whether it is English, French, Swahili or Hindi, is what distinguishes humans from every other animal species. To this day, no language-less community has ever been found.
Several resources will help you on your language journey:
This site shows the translation for the numbers 1–10 in 200 languages. Languages in red are the 12 languages with the greatest number of speakers—more than 100 million or so. Take a look, especially at the red languages, and have students learn to count in several different languages.
This link offers a variety of activities for learning the numbers in other languages. This site primarily focuses on Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Chinese and Russian. This is also geared toward students at the K-3 level.
Jennifer’s Language Page
At this site, you can learn how to say several words and phrases in hundreds of different languages. Jennifer’s goal is to include every language, so that people will be able to say at least a few words to anyone they meet, anywhere in the world.