Bubonic Plague Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

Help your students better understand the biological, social, and economic impacts of the Bubonic Plague through this Study.com lesson plan. An activity will delve deeper into the economic impact of the plague on peasants.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • define the Black Death and Bubonic Plague
  • analyze the role of the Bubonic Plague on late medieval European history with regards to the rights of peasants


40 minutes plus 30 minutes for activity

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

Key Terms

  • Little Ice Age
  • Black Death
  • Bubonic Plague
  • Pogroms


  • Start this lesson by discussing with students the sanitary conditions of Western Europe during the Middle Ages. Be sure to point to the fact that Europeans rarely bathed, lived in close proximity to rats and fleas, and often had open sewers for streets.
  • Start by playing the Study.com video lesson The Little Ice Age and the Black Death, have students take notes writing down key terms.
  • Pause the video at the following areas for discussion:
    • 2:23 - With students, create a cause and effect chain that shows how the lowering of global temperatures by 1 degree led to economic and environmental disasters for the Europeans.
    • 4:09 - How did the poor sanitary conditions of Europe help the plague?
    • 5:36 - How do you think the failure of the Church to respond to the plague effected people's views on science?
  • Watch the lesson summary. Ensure understanding and answer any questions.
  • Read the lesson The Bubonic Plague: History, Facts, & Symptoms for a more detailed description of the Bubonic Plague itself. After reading, consider the following discussion questions:
    • What do the flagellants tell us about common attitudes towards science during the time of the plague?
    • While they look silly to us, what might have made the outfits of the plague doctor effective?
    • Why do you think the Jews were blamed?

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