People and Places


Highlands and agriculture: The case of the Kingdom of Lanna (thirteenth to eighteenth centuries)


The highlands in Northern Thailand are home to several ethnic groups. This lesson examines how different communities with different priorities can develop within a shared environment.

Subject History / Social Studies
Topic Highlands and agriculture: The case of the Kingdom of Lanna (thirteenth to eighteenth centuries)
Key idea Across time, people respond to the varied natural environment of a region in multiple ways that shape their
worldviews and ways of life.
Key concepts Environment, highlands, lowlands, coastlands
People, worldviews, way of life
Commonalities and diversities
Level Lower secondary
No. of periods / lessons 1 period (1 period is approximately 50 minutes)
Facilities needed A/V equipment and Internet access to play the video clips (or hard copy with similar content)
Sources and handouts for distribution
Prerequisite knowledge No prerequisite knowledge required

Learning objectives
By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:

  1. Define what highlands are and identify key
    attributes of highlands.
  2. Describe the way locations in highlands
    have shaped agricultural activities in these
  1. Analyse photos to draw out the attributes of
    a place or community.
  2. Replicate a role to provide a feasible solution
    to a proposed problem.
  1. Demonstrate awareness of how people
    respond in multiple ways to the
    environment, and how this can influence
    their way of life.
  2. Cooperate in groups to complete task


Download the lesson plan for details on the talks and activities suggested below.

1. Introduction to topic

Comparing photographs of various highland areas in Southeast Asia, students discuss the commonalities and diversities among these communities.

2.  Hook activity / simulation: Rice planting

In groups, students representing people living in the highlands discuss the best strategies to feed themselves given their ecological conditions and constraints.

3.  Teacher talk

The Lanna kingdom is an example of a kingdom that emerged in the highlands where various ethnic groups evolved differently in diverse upland environments.

4. Image analysis

Students observe photos from rice terraces in Southeast Asia and guess their locations. Rice terraces are common in highlands in many parts of Southeast Asia and these terraces show how people adapt their environment to fit their needs.

5. Reflection

The teacher summarizes the main points of the lesson and students reflect on their learning by filling in a handout.