Fashions, Foods, and Fads: Exploring Geography

How would our lives be different if we could only buy foods native to New York State? This and similar questions are the focus of a museum-wide quest where students work in teams to gather data about the things they use each day. After collecting the data, each team creates a graphic representation of its findings and leads a discussion about interdependence around the globe.

Please divide your students into three different research teams and assign each team at least one chaperon or teacher. Each team will be going to a separate area of the museum to gather data: the “foods” team will work in Super Kids Market; the “fashions” team in the museum’s collections; and the “fads” team in TimeLab. After collecting data, each team will prepare a brief presentation to share its findings. All three groups will gather together for the presentations.

Lesson extensions for before or after your visit

The following activities are designed for your class to enjoy before or after your museum visit. Familiarizing students with the lesson concepts can enrich your museum experience.

Map review

How do the choices we make reflect the concept of globalization? Review maps of the United States and the world prior to your visit. Here’s one way to do that:

Post the four cardinal directions in your room: North, South, East, and West. Give each student an index card and the instruction to write the name of one of the 50 states on the card. When everyone is ready, ask students to stand where they think their state would be if the room was the U.S. Allow students to make adjustments to their positions after talking with each other. Provide a real map for students to use as a reference if needed. Once in position, ask students to describe their thinking in deciding where to stand. Do the same thing using continents, oceans, and countries with a map of the world.

Globalization journal

Ask students to spend one week keeping a “globalization journal.” They should record each piece of evidence they see to suggest that globalization is occurring. This evidence may appear in items they have at home or have seen at stores; things they’ve heard about in news stories; music they listen to; food they eat at restaurants; holiday customs their family has adopted; or other sources. Some examples of what they might find include:

  • imported cheese in the grocery store
  • imported CDs in a music store
  • a television program produced in another country
  • a television news story about international business or another topic related to globalization

Post a large map of the world in the classroom. Invite students to collect objects and images of things they like that represent different countries around the world. Post the objects and images on the map and use the on-going project as a springboard for discussion each week. Have students generate their own questions about the data they collect and invite them to do research to further their understanding of globalization.