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Lesson of the Day: ‘Where Do Your Spices Come From?’

This lesson is a part of our new Accessible Activities feature, which aims to welcome a wider variety of learners to our site and to The Times. Learn more and tell us what you think here.


Featured article: “Where Do Your Spices Come From?” by Aina J. Khan

In this lesson, you will join the reporter Aina J. Khan as she visits a spice farm in Zanzibar, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean that is part of Tanzania, to find out how cinnamon, cardamom and other spices are produced.

Then you will research a spice you’re curious about so you can teach others about it.

What are your favorite spices? Which spices do you or your family members regularly cook with, eat or drink?

As a class or with a partner, share the spices on your lists and discuss how much you know about where they come from. For example, with a spice like vanilla or ginger, do you know where it grows, what the plant looks like or how it is harvested?

Here are eight words you’ll find in this article that you may not know:

1. archipelago
2. sultan
3. enclosing
4. extracted
5. vital
6. bark
7. quill
8. homeopathic

Which words are you familiar with? Which ones are new to you?

Go to Vocabulary.com to learn what each word means and to practice using them.

Read the article and watch the short videos in each slide. Then answer the following questions:

1. What is the nickname for Zanzibar? How did it get that name?

2. Describe the process for making the spice nutmeg.

3. Why was Ms. Khan, the reporter, particularly interested in the origin of cardamom? What did she learn about how it was grown?

4. How are cinnamon quills harvested?

5. How do Zanzibaris use local ingredients for healing purposes? Do you or your family members ever use home remedies, like the one mentioned in the article or something different?

Choose one or more of the spices on your list from the warm-up activity and find out where they come from. You can use one of these sites to do your research:

As you research, answer these questions:

  • Where does the spice originate?

  • What plant or tree does the spice come from?

  • When and how is it harvested?

  • What else did you learn that was interesting?

  • Why is the spice special or meaningful to you? When and how do you use the spice?

Then create an infographic (here are sample templates) or a slide show (with or without videos) to present what you learned about the spice. Finally, your classmates can teach one another about the different spices around the world.


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