1. Paul's Welcome to Students
  2. Salopek Map
  3. Elementary - Basic Map
  4. Paul Salopek Follows Humans' First Footsteps
  5. Elementary - Kid Map
  6. Warm-Up Photos From Out of Eden Walk
  7. Credits
Pulitzer Center

Out of Eden: 1-5 Lesson Plan

A Storyteller's Eye

Out of Eden: 1-5 Lesson Plan
A Storyteller's Eye
Paul's Welcome to Students

Transcript of Paul’s Welcome to Students (Sent in August 2013)

“My name is Paul Salopek and I’m happy to invite you along on the Out of Eden Walk. One of the interesting things about this project, at least to me, is that it doesn’t belong to me. It’s not Paul’s walk. Scientists say that if you go far back enough in your family tree, there will have been someone who’ll have walked at least a small part of our ancestor’s immensely long route across the ancient world. This project, then, is one that belongs to all of us. It belongs to you.

I’m looking forward to sharing the stories that I find as I walk across the earth for the next seven years, from the cradle of our ancestors in the Rift Valley of Africa to the last continental horizon that they reached thousands of generations later in South America.

But I look forward to hearing your stories too because learning about the world and how we’re all connected within it doesn’t mean you have to pull on a pair of boots and walk 25 miles a day.

You can do this from home by just slowing down and paying attention. Slowing down opens your life to new possibilities. It allows you to make new discoveries, even in your own backyard. All it takes is a little more time and curiosity.

Think about the difference, for example, between riding to school in a bus or a car and walking. When you’re hunkered inside of a glass and steel vehicle, you are looking at the world that is blurred by speed and flattened through the windshield. Or more likely, you’re staring down into a mobile device and ignoring the world altogether.

But walking requires alertness; it requires you to be fully awake. You may see the pattern of leaf shadows moving on a sidewalk. You might feel the cool autumn wind on your skin. You might smell a neighbor’s cooking wafting through an open window, or you might even meet that neighbor and have a brief, passing conversation.

So while I look forward to sharing the stories that I find across the world as I inch my way through African deserts, or over the Himalayan Mountains of Central Asia, or through the jungles of Burma. I also look forward to hearing about your own walks as well, about your own discoveries.

We are walking together on a journey of learning. We’ll draw maps together, helping each other to move forward. I look forward to seeing you down the trail.”


“A Storyteller’s Eye” (45-60 minutes)

COMMON CORE STANDARD: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.2 Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

OBJECTIVE: By the end of class, SWBAT summarize the details and mission of the Out of Eden Project and its slow approach to journalism.

Essential Questions:

  1. Why is it important to summarize after reading?
  2. What is the impact of taking a slow approach to storytelling?


  • Picture for “Explorer’s Eye” activity
  • Kid-friendly map of Out of Eden Walk
  • Blank world map
  • Revised Washington Post Kids article “Paul Salopek Follows Humans’ First Footsteps”
  • Transcript of “Paul’s Welcome to Students”
  • Audio of “Paul’s Welcome to Students”

ENGAGE: What is a “slow approach” to journalism?

SAY: Today we are going explore what it’s like to be a journalist.

ASKWhat is a journalist? What does a journalist do? How do journalists report what they learn? (newspapers, radio, tv)

Guide students to understand that journalists observe and explore the important details of what is happening in the world.

Activity: Training the Explorer’s Eye

Round 1:

  • Give students 30 seconds to silently glance around the room and count how many RED things they see.
  • Advise them to count the number of items they see on their fingers so that they don’t forget.
  • At the end of the 30 seconds, have students hold up the number they found.
  • Ask students to share what they found. (Hopefully some will notice things others didn’t notice!)

The Point: There were probably a lot more red things in the room than many initially thought. A journalist’s job is to investigate stories just like we investigated the room in order to best be able to describe what he/she saw to someone else.

Round 2:

  • Project a photo from the Out of Eden project and give students 10 seconds to silently write down all the characters/objects they see.  (See attached document: Photos from the Out of Eden Walk)
  • Advise them to note shapes and colors even if they can’t yet determine what the object is, or who the people in the photo are.
  • Note: Students will get frustrated! Note what students DID notice in just 10 seconds and have them make guesses about where the objects may be from. (Don't tell them where yet)

The Point: Things happen so quickly around the world that sometimes journalists only have a limited amount of time to report something. Say How did that feel? How accurately do you think we would be able to describe the picture?

Round 3:

  • Project the SAME photo and give students a FULL MINUTE to note what they see.
  • Let students share what they found with a partner. Their goal is to create the most detailed list, along with a guess about what the picture is depicting.

The Point: By taking time to really look and investigate the picture, we got more information and could more accurately describe what we saw. Taking time to report is called “Slow Journalism”.

INFORM: The Out of Eden Walk

SAY: Now imagine that as a journalist your job was to report on the entire world. (Show blank world map) What would be some challenges to reporting on all of this? Why might you not be able to spend a lot of time in one location? With so many of the world’s journalists pressed for time, a “slow” approach can be difficult. So how are we supposed to hear all of those stories that need a closer look? Paul Salopek has created the Out of Eden project to make sure we do. (Show world map with Paul’s route on it)

ASK: Paul plans to take the slow approach to report on  the route you see on this map by WALKING THE ENTIRE WAY! That’s 21,000 MILES!! How long do you think that will take? (seven years) Why do you think he picked this path? (It is the path humans reportedly took when migrating from Africa to North America over the course of 160,00 years)

Visualizing 21,000 miles: ASK: How many trips would this be to school? (if you travel 10 miles to school, that would mean traveling to and from school 2,000 times ON FOOT! You would do the same amount of walking if you walked from one end of the United States to other 7 TIMES!!! Humans didn’t do this all at once though…)

Visualizing 160,000 years ago: DO: To imagine how far back this was, have a student begin counting (1,2,3…). As they count, have students guess how long it would take for the student to get to 160,000. (ANSWER: approximately 45 hours, nearly TWO DAYS!)

Visualizing milestones in human migration: ASK: Why do you think humans left Africa? (Food, resources, etc.) Looking at the map, describe the journey humans took.

ACTIVITY: Visualizing the Journey

To visualize the timeline with students, have them STAND and imagine that their bodies represent a timeline that runs from their feet (160,000 years ago) to their heads (the present). Walking up their bodies using their pointer and middle fingers, have them mark the following spots in history using their fingers.
    a.    160,000 years ago, origin of humans in Africa: Touch their toes
    b.    50,000 years ago, migration starts into Middle East and Europe:
        Fingertips on their knees
    c.    40,000 years ago, migration into Asia: Fingertips on their thighs
    d.    12,000-15,000 years ago, humans follow buffalo into North America:
        Fingertips at belly button
    e.    1776 A.D., America declares independence from Britain:
        Fingertips on nose
    f.    Today, we’re learning about Out of Eden: Fingertips on the top of your head!

SAY: Paul will be walking almost the entire way. Walking for six months and writing for six months. The journey will take SEVEN YEARS.

ASK: How old will you be when you finish? (The journey began in January, 2013)

ACTIVITY: Summarizing the Out of Eden Project and Asking Who, What, Where, When Why

ASK: What is a summary? (It is a brief description of the main ideas of a text that answers the questions WHO WHAT WHERE WHEN WHY.)

MATERIALS: The attached Washington Post Kids article (handout or projected)

BEFORE READING: ASK What do we already know? (Who and what) Then ASK students to listen for the following the following details for our summary: 

  • What is the Out of Eden Project?
  • Who is Paul Salopek?
  • Where will Paul be traveling?
  • When will this take place and for how long?
  • Why is Paul embarking on this slow journalism project?

The article can be read in pairs, independently, as a whole group, or popcorn-style. You know your group!

AFTER READING: REVIEW the questions listed above and walk students through creating a complete summary of the text. ASK: What new information did we learn from the text that we should add to the summary? NOTE: Guide students through the difference between a major and minor detail for the summary. Example: “Paul will be traveling from Africa to South America over the next seven years.” Non-example: Paul liked to go on adventures as a child.

Extension: Clarifying the why and asking questions to extend understanding of a text. If there is time, read the Washington Post Article: Part 2. Have students follow the map, pointing to the location described as you read-aloud or popcorn read what Paul will studying in each location. SAY: After reading and summarizing texts, it’s important that we always think of questions we still want to ask. For example, after reading this article I’m wondering what some of the challenges Paul will face are? Ask students what questions they would like to ask. SAY: Asking questions keeps our brains engaged with the text. It also gives us more to investigate!

Paul just after he crossed the Red Sea into Saudi Arabia told us that one major challenge is  “…getting enough sleep. Beside walking, I am managing a non-profit and coordinating efforts with 5 or 6 project partners back in the US. It's like taking office work with you while camping. Because of the time differences, I'm often up working into the wee hours. ” He also says, “ …I am still moving too fast, even at 3 miles per hour. I plan to stop more frequently along the trail ahead. You have to invest lots of time with people to understand their lives well.”


SAY: Paul actually wanted to speak directly with you about the Out of Eden Project! Right before embarking on his next trip he sent me this audio clip to share with you. Listen and follow along with the text as it plays. At the end, SUMMARIZE the text! What questions will you be answering? (Who, What, Where, When and Why)

Play the audio as students follow along with the text attached. After, work with students to devise a complete summary of Paul’s message to the students. (All of us can be journalists by looking more closely in our own neighborhoods and backyards. He challenges us to start creating our maps and stories NOW because our stories are important to all of humanity!)

Optional: Students could also work in pairs to create a summary before sharing with the entire group if you want to give them a chance to share individually first

Extension: What questions do you still have for Paul? What questions do you still have about being slow journalists?


Challenge students to take Paul’s advice of using the excellent noticing skills they honed in the warm up to summarize a story from their neighborhood. Encourage students to return the next day with picture and summary for a story they experienced in their backyard! Use the following summaries/photos from outofeden.com as examples!


Teaching Summary Skills:

  • http://www.readingquest.org/strat/summarize.html - Includes printable graphic organizers to track summaries

Out of Eden Walk:

  • http://media.outofedenwalk.com/resources/out_of_eden_walk_outline.pdf- Press Release written by Paul
  • www.outofedenwalk.com – Find all the Milestones Paul has documented here
  • http://walktolearn.outofedenwalk.com/- See how teachers are connecting their curriculum to the Out of Eden Walk throughout the school year
  • http://youtu.be/zVKlyb3iMI0 - YouTube video of Paul introducing the walk!
Paul Salopek Follows Humans' First Footsteps

Excerpt from The Washington Post published July 26, 20113


Paul Salopek is a modern-day explorer. In addition to a few clothes, a small first-aid kit and notebooks, he is carrying an audio recorder, a camcorder, a small computer and a satellite phone — a telephone that connects to a satellite and can be used in many places where cellphones don’t work. (A few fellow trekkers help carry supplies and keep him company.)

The journey is long: 21,000 miles! That’s more than seven times the distance between New York and San Francisco.

It will take seven years to complete his journey.

Paul Salopek

Salopek was born in California and spent his childhood in Mexico. He says he has always liked to travel and doesn’t like to rush. At age 14, he climbed Mount Whitney in California and crossed the state’s Sierra Nevada mountains by himself. At 15, he walked the length of Death Valley. He once rode a mule 2,000 miles through mountains in Mexico.

A longtime journalist, Salopek has reported from Africa, Asia and Mexico. Now 51 years old, he plans to keep writing. As he travels around the world, he is writing stories about the people he meets and the way they live. He looks for how people find local solutions to big problems such as food shortages and lack of water. He also records the sounds he hears and takes photos of the sky and the Earth’s surface.

The Out of Eden Walk

The long walk started in January in the Rift Valley in Ethiopia in East Africa. Many consider East Africa to be home to the first humans, who lived 160,000 years ago. It is here that the oldest fossils (traces of living things) of human ancestors have been found. The people who lived in the valley were hunter-gatherers, who obtained all of their food by catching wild animals and gathering edible plants.

Many of these hunter-gatherers left Ethiopia about 60,000 years ago and crossed over to the Arabian Peninsula when the water in the Red Sea was so low that a chain of islands was formed to connect the two pieces of land.

Salopek is retracing the paths our ancestors took as they left Africa and settled in parts of the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Americas. As Salopek walks, he is learning more about himself — and all of humankind.


Where will Paul Salopek go, and what will he find?

The Middle East: He will visit temples, churches and mosques in the land where three of the world’s major religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — took root.

The Shanidar Cave in Iraq: The skeletons of Neanderthal men who lived 60,000 to 80,000 years ago were discovered here.

The Silk Road: He will follow Marco Polo’s route, which linked parts of Europe to China.

The Bering Strait: This body of water separates Russia and Alaska. Scholars think that humans first migrated from Asia to North America along a “land bridge” that was created here as glaciers formed and water levels dropped.

Tierra del Fuego: This archipelago, or group of islands, near the southernmost point of South America will be Salopek’s final destination. The Yaghan people settled here 10,000 years ago; today, only one person speaks their language.

Salopek will also explore fun and unexpected places.

— Kem Knapp Sawyer

Sawyer is a contributing editor at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, which is supporting the walk’s educational mission.

Salopek is a National Geographic fellow. More information at www.outofedenwalk.com.

Inspirations for Salopek’s long walk

Herodotus: This ancient Greek historian was born in 484 B.C. and traveled to Persia (modern-day Iran), Babylon (a city in what is now Iraq), Egypt and Europe. As he wrote the history of his people, he remained open-minded and recorded different points of view.

Ibn Battuta: At age 25, he left his homeland of Morocco in 1325 on a hajj (a pilgrimage) to Mecca, the holy city of the Islam religion. He did not return for 24 years! During that time, he explored the Middle East, India, China and Europe.

© The Washington Post Company

Illustration by Steven Stankiewicz. Originally published in the Washington Post.
Warm-Up Photos From Out of Eden Walk


lesson plans prepared by

Fareed Mostoufi

Jason Huang and Caroline D'Angelo

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit organization, promotes in-depth engagement with global affairs through its sponsorship of quality international journalism across all media platforms and an innovative program of outreach and education.

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