In this complete lesson, students learn about the origins and impact of the Black Death in medieval Europe through a vivid PowerPoint presentation, primary source analysis activities, and an interactive "Black Death" game that your students will be talking about all year long!
The lesson begins with a "Do Now" question in which students analyze a medieval woodcut showing overall themes of the Black Death's impact on Europe. Students then learn about how the advances and growth of the Agricultural and Commercial Revolutions, in addition to colder weather in Europe, set up the conditions that allowed the Black Death to have such a catastrophic impact.
The lesson goes on to present the biology of the Bubonic Plague: from the role of fleas and rats, and the bacteria in the disease cycle to the disease's different forms, symptoms, and effects in humans. Students love learning about the different (ineffective) ways medieval doctors tried to ward off the Plague, as well as the song "Ring Around the Rosy" as a metaphor for the Black Death.
Students then examine maps to understand the role of trading routes in the Black Death's spread from China to India and the Middle East and eventually to Italy. They analyze a map of outbreak centers in Europe to understand the role of hygiene and city conditions, and learn about the rise of anti-Semitism and scapegoating of Jews in connection with the Black Death.
Your students' invariable favorite part of this lesson will be getting to play an interactive Black Death Game, in which students simulate and experience for themselves the rapid contagion and panic that people experienced during the first wave of the disease. A thorough teacher guide and script is included.
Finally, students analyze a document set of excerpted primary sources, images, and a chart to answer the question: "How did the Black Death affect society, religion, and the economy in medieval Europe?" Students use a graphic organizer to compile their evidence. This activity may be completed in class all together, in groups, or individually as homework.
This lesson covers all the key points students must know about this subject for state assessments, and is completely Common Core aligned.
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You may be interested in the following related resources:
Catholic Church in the Middle Ages: Worksheet Packet and LessonFeudalism in the Middle Ages: Worksheets, Readings, and Fun Simulation!The Agricultural Revolution in the Middle Ages: Worksheets, Readings, and Fun Simulation!The Commercial Revolution in the Middle Ages: Worksheets, Readings, and LessonKing John and the Magna Carta: Worksheets, Lesson, and Fun GameDevelopment of English Government During the Middle AgesCultural Advances in the High Middle Ages: Worksheets and LessonThe Crusades and ReconquistaThe Hundred Years' War: Reading, Worksheet and Cartoon Activity
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