Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 12884

You'd expect the world's largest country to have an influence on the rest of the world, and that is certainly true of Russia. Learn its ancient and checkered history, and video your own news report!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio: Image - Button Play
Image - Lession Started Image - Button Start

Most countries sit on just one of the seven continents.

  • What country is so large that it spans two continents?

At 6.6 million square miles, Russia is the largest country in the world.

That's ten times the size of Alaska, the largest state in the United States! Russia is so large that a single continent cannot contain it. Instead, Russia takes up large portions of both Europe and Asia.

This lesson will teach you about this massive country's history, geography, and culture.

A Brief History

Russia did not start as the large country it is today. It took years of conflict and growth to make it what it is. Watch the following video to learn a little about the history of Russia.

As you watch, pause the video to write down the answers to the following questions.

  • Who formed the first Russian state?
  • What was the meaning of the word tsar?
  • What challenges did Russia face in the early 1600s?
  • What was serfdom? What role did serfdom play in early Russia?
  • How did the Russians drive the French out of their country during the Napoleonic Wars?
  • What was the purpose of the Russian Revolution in the 1900s?
  • What were the beliefs of Joseph Stalin? What role did Joseph Stalin play in Russia during the 1900s?
  • When did the U.S.S.R. fall?
  • What new countries were formed with the collapse of the U.S.S.R.?

Image - Video

Russian history is characterized by changes in the nation's size and significant shifts in political views.

  • What Russian political view do you find the most interesting?
  • What role did political views play in the various revolutions?


Look at the map below. Write a few sentences describing the relative location of Russia.

map of russia

Since Russia is so large, it is surrounded by several countries and bodies of water. Look at the map again and write down all the nations that surround Russia.

Image - Video

About 50% of Russia is bordered by water. Once again, look at the map and write down all the bodies of water surrounding Russia.

Image - Video

  • What do you think the land in Russia looks like?
  • Do you think it is similar throughout all of Russia?

When you look at the world map at the beginning of the lesson, you can see that Russia is large and extends far north to the Arctic Circle. The size and various temperatures create very different terrains throughout Russia.

You can find steppes or large flat, open land areas to the west.

The southern borders have large mountains.

The northern parts of Russia contain coniferous forests with evergreen trees, a vast tundra, and a frozen desert. The soil is permanently frozen in the tundra due to the freezing temperatures, making it difficult for plants to survive.

The images below show some of the different landscapes you can find in Russia.

Image - Video

  • If you visited Russia, what scenes would you hope to see?


Look at the Russian Köppen climate map below. The Köppen climate classification system is one of the most commonly used systems for identifying climate zones. It is named for the person who invented it, Russian climatologist Wladimir Köppen.

  • What climates can be found in Russia?
  • Why do you think Russia has so many different climates?

**Russia map of Köppen climate classification

Russia has more than ten different climate zones. The size of the land and the various landscapes create a variety of climates.

Most of Russia is characterized by a cool continental or subarctic climate. The winters in this climate zone are harsh and freezing, and summers are cool.

You learned the French were driven out of Russia during the Napoleonic Wars because of the Russian winter.

  • Now that you have learned about the climate in Russia, why do you think the French could not withstand the Russian winter?


Russia's government has significantly changed over the past 100 years.

Take notes as you watch the video below to learn how Russia's government has changed throughout the years and what it looks like today. These notes will help you with an activity later in the lesson.

Image - Video

After watching the video, use your notes to help you answer the following questions.

  • What type of government does Russia have today?
  • What are the branches of government?
  • Who is considered to be the leader of Russia? What type of leader is he?

As you can see, Russia has changed dramatically since 1900 and remains an influential leader in international politics. In the Got It? section, you will learn more about Russia's relationships with its neighboring countries.


Russia has an abundance of resources, including energy resources. Energy resources are considered some of the most valuable natural resources in the world because they are what we use to power our homes, automobiles, and businesses.

Russia produces about 20% of the world's natural gas and oil. Russia is also one of the leading producers of many important metals, including steel and aluminum.

Being one of the world's richest countries regarding natural resources makes Russia wealthy.

Russia is so large that it covers 11 time zones!

  • Do you think it is easy for citizens of Russia to travel from one side of the country to the other?
  • What challenges does the government face to run such a massive country?

Write your responses to these questions on a separate piece of paper or in the space provided below.

Image - Video

Now, move to the Got It? section to learn Russia's role in recent international affairs.

Image - Button Next