Enlightenment vs. Great Awakening Lesson Plan

Instructor: Cara Randle

Cara has a Master's in Teacher Leadership as well as a Bachelor's in Elementary Education. She has taught on the Elementary and Pre-k level for 5 years.

This lesson plan covers the difference between ''The First Great Awakening'' and ''Enlightenment''. Students will learn what the major differences were as well as understand the effect each had on America at the time.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion, students will be able to:

  • Explain the difference between The First Great Awakening and The Enlightenment
  • Analyze the effect each had on the American Colonies

Time Length

1-2 hours

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.


By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.


  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Poster Board


  • Enlightenment
  • Age of Reason
  • Rational Christianity
  • Deism
  • Republicanism
  • Democratic Society
  • Revivals

Lesson Instructions

  • Watch the video The American Enlightenment: Intellectual and Social Revolution
  • After watching the video, discuss with students:
    • What/who were the institutions of authority?
    • How did the Enlightenment reach the American colonies?
    • Who was the most important person to the Enlightenment in America? Why did he publish Poor Richard's Almanac?
    • What is Rational Christianity?
    • What is Deism?
    • What is Republicanism?
    • What is Democratic society?
    • Was the Enlightenment based on a scientific or religious world view? How do you know?
  • To check for understanding use this Printable Worksheet or Online Quiz
  • Have students Complete Activity Part 1 then return to the next step in the Lesson Instructions
  • Watch the video The First Great Awakening: Religious Revival and American Independence
  • After watching the video, discuss with students:
    • What does it mean 'The Great Awakening engaged the heart'?
    • Did the First Great Awakening focus on inward or outward changes?
    • Who was George Whitefield?
    • What were revivals?
    • What was the Anglican Church?
    • Who was Jonathan Edwards?
    • How did the First Great Awakening affect slavery?
    • How had church become a democratic experience?
    • How did the First Great Awakening affect the American Revolution?
  • To check for understanding use this Online Quiz or Printable Worksheet
  • Have students Complete Activity Part 2
  • Discuss the information gathered by the groups.
  • Instruct students to Complete Activity Part 3
  • Discuss and Display all of the charts after completion

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