Silk Road

Along the Silk Road

A curriculum for middle school and secondary students developed by the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) and the Silk Road Project

Full Curriculum at

Along the Silk Road explores the vast ancient network of cultural, economic, and technological exchange that connected East Asia to the Mediterranean. Students learn how goods, belief systems, art, music, and people traveled across such vast distances, resulting in interdependence among disparate cultures.  Yo-Yo Ma has referred to the Silk Road as the "Internet of antiquity," and by studying this network of trading routes, students not only learn about the historical interconnectedness of people and ideas throughout the world, but also gain a new perspective on contemporary issues of globalization.

Along the Silk Road is a multidisciplinary course of study including materials appropriate for social studies, geography, art and music classes.

Lesson plans

Unit Introduction: Along the Silk Road
Lesson 1: Mapping the Silk Road
Lesson 2: The History of the Silk Road
Lesson 3: Language and Communication
Lesson 4: Trade along the Silk Road
Lesson 5: Belief Systems along the Silk Road
Lesson 6: Arts of the Silk Road
Lesson 7: Music of the Silk Road
Lesson 8: Human Migration in Historical Perspective
Conclusion: Summarizing the Unit

Students will:

  • Understand how humans have always been interdependent due to exchange of ideas, culture, trade, food, music, etc.
  • Recognize how trade has influenced culture and culture has influenced trade throughout history
  • Recognize the diversity of the world and appreciate the interdependence of cultures and the benefits of exchange
  • Place the cultural and economic exchange that occurred on the Silk Road into historical context


Wall map: a laminated Silk Road wall map

DVD: contains color images, maps and video of Silk Road Ensemble performance

CD: contains audio clips

Subjects and Suggested Grade Levels
This curriculum is recommended for the following middle school and secondary school classes:
Social Studies
Global Studies
Art History
World History
Religious Studies

Please note: Adaptations for younger students can be found in the appendices.

To purchase the Along the Silk Road curriculum, please visit the SPICE website.

Silk Road Encounters Education Kit

As a symbol of the crossroads between civilizations, peoples, and cultures, the Silk Roads offer rich materials for students to explore diverse but inter-related topics on geography, trade, art, music, religion, and history. This Teachers Guide and Sourcebook, which you are welcome to download, supplements traditional classroom materials with interactive activity plans and reference materials.

Silk Road Encounters Education Kit Components

Sourcebook-The easy-to-read Sourcebook provides the background material you need to familiarize yourself with the Silk Roads as you plan your activities on this theme. The Sourcebook is organized into six sections:

  1. Geographical Setting
  2. Historical Background
  3. Belief Systems
  4. Arts of the Silk Road
  5. Travel of Ideas and Techniques
  6. Music of the Silk Road

Lesson Plans: Six model lesson plans bring together activities that reinforce students' basic knowledge of the Silk Road with concepts on the diversity of exchanges in the arts, belief systems and ideas.

Students will:

  • Learn about the geography, economics, and history of the Silk Roads. [Lesson Plans: Silk Roads Big Map, Creating a Three-Dimensional Timeline, Trading in the Silk Road Cities
  • Reflect on the similarities and differences of perspectives in the religions and the world views represented in the ancient and contemporary regions touched by the Silk Roads. [Lesson Plan: Belief Systems of the Silk Roads
  • Create musical instruments modeled after those used on the Silk Roads. [Lesson Plans: The Straw-Sheng and the Tube-la]
  • Reflect on the history and culture in northwest China through their own experiences and knowledge. [Lesson Plans: The Treasures of the Silk Roads]


Sources for further research are included in the Sourcebook and TeachersGuide.

  • Musical instrument glossary
  • Suggested readings and resources

About the Lesson Plans:

Start with the map and trade lessons so that your students first become familiar with the physical geography and the historical context in which the cultural and artistic exchanges occurred.

The beliefs systems, art, and music activities need not be used sequentially because they each touch on a different facet of the Silk Roads.

The activities are tiered for different educational levels with variations suggested for extensions and adjustment for younger or advanced students.

Handouts for activities are included directly following the activity they support.


When excerpting from Encounters materials please use the following credit line:

Excerpted from Silk Road Encounters, a project of the Silk Road Project, Inc. Silk Road Encounters is made possible by Ford Motor Company. Educational materials developed by the Silk Road Project with additional resources from the Asia Society.


Teachers Guide (PDF 368k)
Sourcebook (PDF 1,010k)

Submitted by goudarz on Wed, 03/26/2008 - 5:04pm.