Teaching materials

student-focused content and lessons

Architecture and Sacred Spaces in Shinto

Shinto - "the way of the kami" - is deeply rooted in pre-historic Japanese religious and agricultural practices. The term kami can refer to Japanese mythological deities, but also can mean divinity manifested in natural objects, places, animals, and even human beings. Shinto rituals and celebrations stress harmony between deities, man, and nature -- a key feature of Japanese religious life and art to the present time. This page uses the architecture of Shinto shrines as a window into Shinto practices and worldview. Materials presented here were developed by teachers in a year-long ORIAS...

Teaching about Art and Composite Culture in South Asian History

Use these visual analysis techniques and annotated images to teach about composite cultures in South Asian history.

Societies of the Americas

Archaeological evidence suggests that Indigenous peoples have been living in this hemisphere for at least 15,000 years. More recent DNA evidence indicates an even longer period of 20,000 years. By either metric, Indigenous communities were already here when the last glaciation ended, changing the shape of coastlines and land-masses everywhere. They had been here for thousands of years by the time the first small farming villages emerged on the other side of the globe, in ancient Mesopotamia. During every recorded historical event across Afroeurasia, Indigenous societies in this hemisphere...

What Do Historians Do?

Listen to interviews with six different historians. They describe what they love about history, how they define history, details about their job, and how the study of history can change people's lives.

Mithila Painting: Folk Art of India

Why Study Mithila Painting? This three-week unit invites students to understand and make connections with cultures in rural North India via traditions of ritual painting that have been practiced since ancient times - the exact point of origin is unknown. They will learn that India's great Hindu epic, The Ramayana, is celebrated in paintings in the village where the story originated alongside more modern subjects. Students will gain an appreciation for the impressive skills of formally unschooled, but internationally recognized village artists and see how these artists are responding to modern...

Monomyth: Hero's Journey Project

Joseph Campbell's Monomyth, developed in Hero With A Thousand Faces, describes the common heroic narrative in which a heroic protagonist sets out, has transformative adventures, and returns home. It is a useful formula for comparing literary traditions across time and culture. Here, ORIAS provides resources to explore and compare three different works through the lens of the Monomyth: Mali's Sunjata, South Asia's Ramayana, and Japan's Yamato.

The Travels of Ibn Battuta

Welcome to this tour of Ibn Battuta's medieval travels! You will be following in the footsteps of this famous 14th century Muslim traveler, exploring the places he visited and the people he encountered. To help you learn more about his adventures there will be images of the people and places he saw, information on the food he might have tasted, and "side trips" into the past and future.