Resource Material about Mongolia

Find Lesson Plans

Photographic Resources

These are sources of images for student analysis after they have read about culture and issues in Mongolia.

Futuristic Archaeology, Daesung Lee

Winds of Change on the Mongolian Steppe, Daniel Miller

Inside the Dangerous World of Amateur ‘Ninja’ Gold Miners, Alvaro Laiz (this may be restricted behind the firewall at “Wired”)


The Rise and Fall of the Mongol Empire

Cute animation from TED-ed with basic historical information that would be useful to build background knowledge, especially at the late-elementary school and early middle school levels.


Smithsonian Folkways Mongolia Resources

Smithsonian Folkways, their recording label, has many audio and video tracks available from Mongolia as well as some lesson plans on Mongolian music. The lesson plans do a great job of immersing students in the links between music and daily life and explore some of the musical tracks that are available.

Folk Cloud: Traditional / folk music of Mongolia

This offers brief descriptions of types of Mongolian traditional music with recorded examples. This could be a good source of additional examples if you are using the Smithsonian Folkways site.

Geography and Wildlife

The Gobi Desert

Clearly organized information about the desert: climate, animals, and people.

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain

An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia

Author: Sy Montgomery. This is part of the excellent “Scientists in the FIeld” series. HMH Books for Young Readers: 2012.


Life of a Herder Child (and other children in various countries)

Kids in Other Countries. Arnold Hansen, 2020.

This site features short (10-15 minute) videos of children in various countries, including one on Mongolia. The videos are simple, but would be a good starting point for elementary-school students.

The Story of the Weeping Camel

This award-winning movie (rated PG) focuses on Mongolian herders in the Gobi desert. It unfortunately does not seem to be available for rental as of this time (8-2019).

Winds of Change on the Mongolian Steppe

by Daniel Miller on This is a photo-essay giving a general introduction to life on the steppe in modern Mongolia. It uses very high-level vocabulary, but could perhaps be used as a jigsaw reading in nonfiction narrative for a close-reading task in middle school or late-elementary school. There are some beautiful and detailed photos that could be used independently for analysis.

Climate Change and Air Pollution

Climate change in Mongolia

A 3-minute animation exploring the effects of climate change.

Mongolia’s nomadic way of life threatened by climate change, neglect, modernity

This Washington Post article is a good companion to the interview with Orgil Balgansuren on climate change and the NPR radio series below. The Post does have a pay wall, but you get a limited number of free articles each month at the time I am writing this. This uses newspaper-level vocabulary, but has some excellent photographs and information to share.

Measuring Air Pollution

Air Quality Index. IQAir. This site is an excellent companion to any of the resources below. It will allow the students to explore data on air pollution in Mongolia.

Unlawful in the Motherland

Tuvshinzaya Amarzaya. A 20-minute documentary about rural Mongolians who have illegally moved to Ulaanbaatar. A 2017 law unsuccessfully attempted to stop rural-urban migration to the city in order to stop the increase in air pollution caused by coal burning for heat in the gers. This is a beautifully-produced video, comprehensible by students if the teacher explains the issues of:

  • air pollution in Ulaanbaatar
  • the increasingly frequent dzuds. Dzuds are die-offs of the herd animals due to extremes in winter temperatures. They have become more frequent due to climate change.
  • the need to register residence with the government to get services.

There is a scene with a close-up of a nursing baby.

Children and Air Pollution

A Reuters article about air pollution in Ulaanbaatar. This is a good companion to the NPR radio series below and looks at how families are trying to protect their children.

Kids Suffer Most in One of Earth’s Most Polluted Cities. National Geographic, March 2019

Pollution pushes Mongolia’s herders to reconsider city life

A Guardian article with similar information to the Reuters article above. This has more detail about efforts to make life in the countryside better to reduce migration.

NPR: Changing Mongolia

This three-part radio series about Mongolia focuses on mining, air pollution in the capital, and problems herders face due to climate change. It also includes a photo essay. The shows are thorough and fascinating, but might give your students an overwhelmingly negative view of this great country if they don’t read or view other material about recent developments.

Find Lesson Plans