The Middle Ages for Teachers
Free Use Lesson Plans, Classroom Activities, Simulations, Final Activity for Teachers
These lessons can be adjusted for any grade. They are all free to use in your classroom.
Donn, Opening Activities, First Day of Unit:
Activity: Time Period. Introduce your unit on Medieval Europe by having your kids define the time period. Ask: “Who knows what medieval means?” (Get some answers. Direct one student to look up the definition of medieval in the dictionary. Adjust students’ answers as needed.) Say: “That’s right. Medieval means middle—but, the middle of what?” (Get some answers.) “Historians mean in the middle of history. In medieval times, the cavemen were long gone.” The Middle Ages (or medieval times) refers to a block of time in history from 500 CE to about 1500 CE—a period of 1000 years. Wherever you are on the globe—be it Asia, Africa, South America, or Europe—if you are talking about a piece of history that happened between 500 CE and 1500 CE, you are talking about something that happened in the Middle Ages. For the next few weeks, we’re going to take a look at what was going on during the Middle Ages in just one piece of the globe—in Medieval Europe. Medieval Europe was a time of knights and vassals and castles and war.
Activity: Time Line. Say: “Today, I want each of you to organize a timeline for yourself. We don’t have much to add to our timeline right now, so we’ll just get it ready to go.” Direct students to get out a piece of paper or use the handout provided entitled: Timeline. Fold paper in half and then in half again to create four sections. Label sections 500 CE, 750 CE, 1000 CE, and 1250 CE. Say: “You do not need to memorize a lot of dates. This timeline is to give an idea of sequencing.” Ask: “Who knows what sequencing means?” (If you have to, have a student look it up in the dictionary and read the definition aloud.) Say: “Timelines are a helpful way to quickly see the sequence of events.” Teacher Note: Throughout the unit, direct students to take out their timelines and update them based on the information studied to date. Allow 3–5 minutes for this activity with each update.
Donn, Activity: Justinian's Code Lesson Plan and Classroom Activity
Charlemagne Bias Lab - Two readings on Charlemagne that mirror one another. Read both to see how bias can greatly affect our view of a historical figure, with Doc 1 and Doc 2
Crumbling Kingdom - A classroom simulation of what daily life might be like to live in a civilization that was collapsing around you. End of dark ages, manor life, rise of towns, one-hour
Culture Shock: Dark Ages - Five mini activities to show how one might go about rebuilding a fallen society
The Church in Medieval Times, great information and interesting lesson ideas, for example: "Activity: Listen to Thomas Aquinas’ Pange Lingua. Have you heard music that sounds like this before? Write down some features you would use to describe the music you have just heard – list a few things it has in common with modern music, and a few differences. Now think about the roles you have seen music play in medieval life. (Described in the lesson ideas.) What role would music have played in your life if you were a medieval monk? How about if you were a medieval townsman outside the church? What ceremonies do we have today in which music plays an important role – it doesn't have to be playing the whole time (for example, the national anthem at a baseball game)?"
Donn, Activity, The Manorial System, Pleasant Peasant Poems, lesson plan with activities
Donn, Simulation, The Vassal Game, lesson and simulation
Donn, Code of Behavior: First, read this page on Medieval Knights. Then, working in small groups or independently, write your own code based on today's social code of behavior.
Donn, Comparison of Two Documents, The Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, and the creation of a third - the Declaration of the Rights of Students
Donn, A Bakers Dozen, Medieval Guilds, lesson plan with activities
Donn, Rise of Towns: Wanted: Medieval Workers, lesson idea. Have kids write either a news article or a wanted workers poster, using persuasion in illustrations and text
Donn, Vocabulary: Word Walls. I use the outline of a castle for my word wall section. Don uses a cathedral. Both work. Have the kids add words to the word wall as we run into new vocabulary. Now and then throughout the unit, I group the kids and have a challenge. I give the class the definition, and groups give me the word that goes with that definition - they must raise their hands and be called on by me prior to answering. Group with the most right words wins. The prize is bragging rights only.
Donn, Final Activity, An Original Morality Play combined with a Medieval Trade Fair with Medieval games that kids actually played hundreds of years ago, with guests of other students and parents (see extended activity, bottom of page)