South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

Lesson Plans

NEW! Celebrating Global Diversity: Exploring World Festivals in Elementary and Middle School


Third to Sixth Grade Social Studies, World Geography, World Cultures
This lesson is based on a growing need to foster global awareness and strengthen multicultural literacy in young learners. Engaging global content will enable young learners to generalize from the study of world festivals and celebrations and apply that learning in others aspects of learning and their lives. Further, the global and multicultural content in the unit reinforces the social and emotional learning of students and validates the experience of all students in culturally diverse classrooms. Through an exploration of world festivals and cultural celebrations, this unit provides classroom-ready comparative lessons, group activities, and educational content appropriate for students in Grades 3 - 6.

Out of Place and Finding Home 


High School Level – Social Studies, World Geography
This lesson examines the quest for social and political rights by Bhutanese-Nepali refugees by examining why and how people become displaced and how they rebuild their lives. The unit uses active learning exercises and primary source materials for students to examine the specific case of Bhutanese-Nepali refugees, who have lived as a "nation-less" people for decades, denied the rights of citizenship and confined to the resettlement camps. The activities, primary source materials and audiovisual content included in the lesson help students to better understand the processes of forced migration and how it relates to issues of human rights and social justice in a global society.

Partition in the Classroom

people walking

High School Level – Social Studies, World History, World Geography
This comprehensive curriculum unit provides a lens into the complexity of the 1947 Partition of India and serves as a case study for teaching migration in diverse classrooms. The unit requires students to synthesize information from primary and secondary sources (oral histories, speeches, maps, graphs, short stories, films) and create interpretive materials (skits, debates, comics, stories) for understanding the history and geography of Partition.

Outsourcing and the Rise of India in the Global Market

Call center in India

High School Level – Social Studies, Economics, World Geography
This lesson plan introduces students to the outsourcing industry, and uses outsourcing in India as a case study for understanding the effects of globalization. Through the lesson’s activities, students are encouraged to critically analyze the pros and cons of outsourcing from both Indian and US perspectives, and to understand how culture and identity are part of global trade and business. The lesson’s materials include various articles that analyze the effects of outsourcing, a PowerPoint presentation, and audiovisual content to understand the cultural stereotyping that has become part of popular notions of outsourcing.

Photography in India

Old photograph of the Taj Mahal

High School Level (with modifications for Middle School) - Social Studies, World History, Art/Art History, World Geography, Literature and Language Arts, World Cultures
This modifiable unit teaches students how to use photographs as primary documents, while also examining the history and technology of early photography in India. The hands-on activities help students to develop analytical skills by using primary sources while also encouraging the study of images as a way for students to understand the history, geography and society of India.  Through the examination of 19th century photographs students are encouraged to understand colonialism in India and how images were used as part of the imperial project.

Holi, the festival of colors

People celebrating the festival of Holi

Middle School Level – Social Studies, World Cultures
Middle-school students can learn about the mythology and cultural practices one of India’s most widely celebrated festivals, Holi.  The lesson is activity-based and meant to visually and textually introduce middle-school aged students to the colorful festival of Holi as it is celebrated across various parts of India. Although rooted mainly in Hindu religious mythology, its enthusiastic adoption across various religious sects attests to its popularity as a community event. The lesson encourages students to understand some of India’s cultural practices (namely the celebration of festivals and holidays) as very similar to their own, while still appreciating the ways in which they may differ.

Women in the Indian Independence Movement -  the Salt Protests of 1930

Women protestors in 1930

High School Level – World History, World Geography, Social Studies
The activities and materials are designed to address the following questions: What were the experiences of women in the Indian Salt Protests of 1930? What effects did women’s participation have on the Indian movement for independence?  How do different individuals remember and understand the role of women in the Salt March and the larger independence movement? How can primary source documents provide students additional perspectives on this historical event?

Women in the Global Factory - The Garment Industry in Sri Lanka

factory clothing

High School Level - Social Studies, Economics, World Geography
This lesson will examine current issues and debates relating to
globalization, with emphasis on how they affect women¹s lives in other parts
of the world, specifically in Sri Lanka.  The activities and materials are
designed to address the following questions: What are the experiences of
women in the global factory? What effects does women¹s participation in the
global workforce have on local ideas of gender identity, notions of family,
and understandings of women¹s place within the nation and the world?  What
are the advantages and disadvantages for women who work in global factories?
How can primary source documents provide students additional perspectives on
a contemporary issue?

British Rule in India


High School Level - World History, World Geography, Social Studies
This interactive presentation introduces the topic of British imperial rule
in India.  It covers how the British came to rule India, strategies used for
maintaining imperial rule, and Gandhi's Satyagraha Campaign for
independence.  The presentation includes many images and cartoons and other
primary source texts and encourages student participation through analysis
and discussion of the images and texts.

An Indian Folk Tale (created by the Teach India Project)


Kindergarten and first grade social studies curricula frequently include listening to or telling stories and folk tales. Children read and react to stories in which the characters model honesty, courage, friendship, respect, responsibility and other qualities.

The book The Little Brown Jay: a Tale from India by Elizabeth Claire showcased in this unit is a folk tale from India. It shows how kindness and helping others brings unexpected rewards. As the authors explain in an afternote, the book is illustrated in the style of Indian miniature paintings but requires no background knowledge of cultural symbols or traditions to be enjoyed.

The objective of this kit is to provide basic information about India to young students so that they become familiar with simple things that are part of day to day life in India. Familiarity with another culture will train students to be more open to other cultures and their differences and similarities. Please contact Outreach to borrow this kit.


  • Study Guide with supplementary materials
  • Slide show presentation - India: National Symbols
  • Book:  The Little Brown Jay: A Tale from India Retold by Elizabeth Claire
  • Artifacts:  A sari, a boy's outfit, a girl's outfit, a toran
  • Samples of completed projects from Establishing Connections I and II
  • Music CD

Salem Trade: Artifacts from India (created by the Teach India Project)

salemHigh School Level - World History, World Geography, Social Studies

The focus of this kit is the period from 1784 to around 1812 when trade between Salem and the "East Indies", specifically India, flourished. During this time, fifty-four trips were made to india. This kit introduces students to Salem, Massachusetts, in the Age of Sail and to some of the famous merchants, captains,supercargoes and sailors and ships that sailed to far away countries. It hopes to recreate for students the cultural contact early Americans experienced through commerce with india. Please contact Outreach to borrow this kit.


  • Study Guide
  • Slide show presentation: Salem Trade and Artifacts From India
  • Slide show presentation: Indian Artifact Display: Let's Look at this Object
  • Teacher Notes and Discussion Guide
  • Cobblestone magazine: Salem and the East Indies Trade
  • Salem: Maritime Trade in the Age of Sail produced by the National Park Service.
  • Yankee India: American Commercial and Cultural Encounters with India in the Age of Sail 1784-1860 by Susan S. Bean
  • Artifact: Handmade puppet from Rajasthan, India in the folk style, Feedback Form, Music CD