Module 3: Teacher's Guide

Time: 7 days, 30-60 minutes/day

Overview: Students continue their simulated expedition with an investigation into the rich cultural history and diversity of their global mountain and local community.

Objectives: To understand the role that people play in determining the practices, customs, traditions, and character that define a place, both locally and on their distant mountains.

National Standards Addressed (attached below)

Related Activities:

Classroom: Sacred Sites, Near and Far (attached below)
Schoolyard: A Sense of Place (attached below)


  • Journals
  • Materials for two activities

Module Outline:

Day One: Students read Module 3, Part 1 and examine the local role of agriculture.

Day Two: Students conduct a food survey.

Day Three: Students read Module 3 , Part 2 and participate in a potato taste test.

Day Four: Conduct Classroom Activity: Sacred Sites, Near and Far (attached below).

Day Five: Students read Module 3, Part 3.

Day Six: Conduct Schoolyard Activity: A Sense of Place (attached below).

Day Seven: Expedition de-briefing.

Content Background:

Students continue their expedition with an investigation into the cultural diversity of mountains. As students learned in Module 1, the Incas lived in the mountains for more than 300 years. Still today, the Andes support the largest high-altitude population in the world.

On a global scale, one out of every 10 people live in the mountains. Throughout history, mountain people have had to adjust their lives to a rugged environment. They have developed unique methods for using native plants and animals and for growing crops and breeding livestock in order to survive. Because of geography, mountain people are often isolated--and different--from one another and from lowland communities. This combination of factors results in high cultural diversity in mountainous regions. As students "climb" their mountains, they will witness this cultural diversity in action.

Day One:

Beginning on the first page of the student materials for Module 3, students can click on their expedition to access the appropriate reading materials. Begin by asking students to read part 1 for this leg of their expedition. Students can read on their own or take turns reading to their teammates. They are asked to brainstorm and answer questions along the way. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the student materials beforehand. Below we provide additional information to help you effectively guide your students in their explorations.

Students are asked to consider the role of agriculture and gardening in their local community. Consider having them contact the state Department of Agriculture to find out what crops are grown locally. They can design and conduct a survey in their neighborhood to find out who gardens and what they grow. Encourage them to consider all types of gardening--indoors and out--from containers to raised beds. After completing their research, they can draw comparisons between the crops that are grown locally and those grown on Nevado Huascarán, Mount Makalu, and Blair Mountain.

Day Two:

To help students draw comparisons between the food they eat and the food mountain people eat, have them conduct a food survey. For one 24-hour period ask them to write down in their journals everything they eat. When completed, they can bring the list to school and, as a class, compile a master list comprised of two columns: Food and Source. Hold a class discussion. In the first column, write down the food items from your students' lists. In the second, decide as a class and write down whether the food item comes from a plant or animal. If students aren't sure, have them conduct research.

In their student materials, students have already learned a little bit about the food that mountain people eat. Ask students to review part 1 of this module and make a list of the foods that are mentioned. Again, have them consider the source of these foods, plant or animal. Next, have them compare and contrast this list to the classes compiled food survey list. Challenge them to consider, What are the similarities? The differences?

Day Three:

As students read part 2 of this leg of the expedition, they encounter people farming on their mountains. They discover that potatoes originated in the Andes Mountains and are grown on Nevado Huascarán, Mount Makalu, and in the Appalachian Mountains.

Ask students to investigate how potatoes are prepared in different countries or cultures around the world. Most kids will be immediately familiar with French fries--the number-one vegetable eaten by American kids! Other foods that come to mind are potato chips, latkes, mashed potatoes, hash browns, etc. Consider having students bring in products made from different kinds of potatoes (blue potato chips, for example) and hold a taste test. Older students can research the issues surrounding genetically engineered potatoes.

Himalayan Expedition
After "watching" two yaks plow a large field high up on Mount Makalu, students wonder how they can be doing so much work at this elevation. Yaks are specially adapted to mountain life. They have larger lungs and hearts than most other animals. This helps them breathe and work in the thin mountain air.

Day Four:

Towards the end of part 2, students on the Andean and Himalayan Expedition Teams are privy to observing locals conduct a sacred ceremony. This serves as a reminder and as an opportunity for students to explore the sacred significance of mountains, in the United States and abroad. Conduct Classroom Activity: Sacred Sites, Near and Far. (attached below)

Day Five:

Students read part 3 of this leg of the expedition. Toward the end of the day, students on the Andean Team experience a rock fall, students on the Himalayan Team, an earthquake, and students on the Appalachian Team, a wildfire.

Rock falls are not uncommon in mountainous environments. Entire cities have been buried under the rock, snow, and ice that catapult down the steep slopes of mountain terrains. Initiated by avalanches, volcanoes, or earthquakes, rock falls have the power to cause death and destruction in their path.

There are thousands of small earthquakes in the Himalayas each year. Remind students that the continental plates are still moving (they learned this in Module 1). As the North American plate moves closer to the Asian plate, the Himalayan mountain range is pushed higher. As a result, these mountains are still getting taller. The movement of the plates causes these small earthquakes to occur.

The Appalachian wildfire is most likely the result of a lightning strike. Dead snag trees on mountains are susceptible to lightning strikes. Once lit, wildfires can grow uncontrollably, especially during dry times of the year. These experiences enforce the idea that life in the mountains, whether it be in the Andes, Himalayas, or Appalachians, can be quite unpredictable and very dangerous.

Himalayan Expedition
When students reach pastureland, they make the observation that there doesn't seem to be enough vegetation for the grazing yaks, sheep, and goats to feed on. This is because the land has been overgrazed for many years and no longer has the capacity to produce enough vegetation to satisfy the demand of growing animal populations.

Day Six:

Through interviews with long-time town residents and local historians, students begin to understand the cultural diversity of their own community as they draw comparisons to the people and customs that define their distant mountain communities. Conduct Schoolyard Activity: A Sense of Place (attached below).

Day Seven: Expedition de-briefing

Leave some time at the end of this expedition leg for students to reflect on the "day's" experiences in their journals. Consider asking students to create a crossword puzzle of mountain vocabulary, using words they have been introduced to on the expedition.

At the end of the expedition day, ask students to also record in their journals any new evidence they have of the female Incan mummy (Andes team), the yeti (Himalayan team), or damage from mountain top mining (Appalachian team). This is a good time for the Sacred Mountain Expert, the Zoologist, and the Environmentalist to share with their teammates what they know about the Incan mummy, the yeti, and mountain top mining, respectively. Ask them, What evidence did you discover? What made you think it might be related to the mummy? To the yeti? To mountain top mining? Encourage them to be creative and let their imaginations run wild during this time. At the end of the unit, students can use these journal entries to generate a report that they will send to their expedition sponsors either the National Geographic Society, The Mountain Institute, or the Environmental Protection Agency.

Assessment Opportunities:

Journal entries: Answers to questions; Record-keeping during food survey; Reflections on expedition experience.

Expedition de-briefing: Completion of mountain crossword puzzle; Observations on expedition mission.

Other: Collaborative group work; Research skills; Participation in activities.


Students can research how mountain agriculture has changed through the years; experiment with terracing techniques in schoolyard landscaping or gardening; create indoor, outdoor, or container kitchen gardens with plants representative of crops growing in their mountainous regions; research and compare the jobs accomplished by men or women to those carried out together; contribute new data, information, and materials to classroom mountain displays.

Related Resources


Bickman, C. 1994. Through the Eyes of Children: Children of Peru. Abdo & Daughters, Minneapolis, MN. [ASIN: 1562393251]
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Clark, A.N. 1987. Secret of the Andes. Viking Penguin, Inc., New York, NY. [ISBN: 0-1403-0926-8]
The story of a modern Inca boy who travels in search of information on his ancient ancestors.
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Falconer, K. 1996. Cultures of the World: Peru. Benchmark Books, New Canaan, CT. [ISBN: 0-7614-0179-2]
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Kalman, B. and Everts, T. 2003. Peru: The People and Culture. Crabtree Publishing Company, New York, NY. [ISBN: 0-7787-9342-7]
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Cultures of the Andes
Numerous links to sites about Andean languages, history, music, food, and more.


Bickman, C. 1996. Through the Eyes of Children: Children of Nepal. Abdo & Daughters, Minneapolis, MN. [ASIN: 1562395491]
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Burbank, J. 1994. Cultures of the World: Nepal. Benchmark Books, New Canaan, CT. [ISBN: 1-8543-5401-9]
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Reynolds, J. 1991. Vanishing Cultures: Himalaya. Harcourt Young Classics, New York, NY. [ASIN: 0152344667]
Reading level: Ages 9-12


Anderson, J. 1990. Pioneer Children of Appalachia. Clarion Books. [ISBN: 0-3955-4792-X]
Reading level: Grades 2-6

Carter, F. 2001. The Education of Little Tree. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM. [ISBN: 0-8263-2809-1]
The tale of a boy growing up with his Cherokee grandmother and half-Cherokee grandfather in the Appalachian Mountains.
Reading level: Young adult

Furbee, M.R. 2001. Anne Bailey: Frontier Scout. Morgan Reynolds, Inc., NC. [ISBN: 1-8838-4670-6]
Book in the series "Women of the Frontier" about the women who lived and worked in the Appalachian Mountains during the Colonial years.
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Furbee, M.R. 2001. Wild Rose: Nancy Ward and the Cherokee Nation. Morgan Reynolds, Inc., NC. [ISBN: 1-8838-4671-4]
Book in the series "Women of the Frontier" about the women who lived and worked in the Appalachian Mountains during the Colonial years.
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Gainer, P.W. 1975. Witches, Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachians. Seneca Books. [ISBN: 0-8909-2006-0]

Rylant, C. 1998. Appalachia: Voices of Sleeping Birds. Voyager Books, London, UK. [ISBN: 0-1520-1893-X]
A story about the people who live in Appalachia.
Reading level: Ages 4-8

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Module 3 National Standards 53.96 KB
Sacred Sites, Near and Far21.25 KB
A Sense of Place20.96 KB

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