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The Late Middle Ages Activities for High School

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

How were the Late Middle Ages different from the Middle Ages? Help your high school students understand this time period in world history through engaging activities that will challenge them to use higher-level thinking skills.

Why Teach About the Late Middle Ages?

The Late Middle Ages encompassed the period of the 14th and 15th centuries, right before the early modern era. It was an important time in world history that set the stage for monumental events like the Renaissance. During the Late Middle Ages, Europe's population declined by almost half due to famines and disease. The Catholic Shurch's influence changed as people began challenging different aspects.

As you teach your students about the Late Middle Ages, it will be important to help them understand this time period's significance.

Graphing the Population Crisis

Materials:

  • Population estimates, available from world history textbooks
  • Graphing paper

Instructions:

  • Explain to your students that events like the Black Death and Great Famine had an impact on the population during the Late Middle Ages. Engage your students by asking 'What kind of impact do you think this might have had?' Do a think-pair-share with students' table partners or a nearby neighbor.
  • Divide your students into pairs and pass out population estimates and graphing paper. Explain to your students that they will create a graph of the data so they can see how the population changes throughout this time period. Your students can make a bar graph or a point graph.
  • After they have made their graph, ask your students to discuss the following questions:
    • What impact did famine and disease have on the population of Europe?
    • What kinds of repercussions do you think there was because of this population decline?
  • As an extension, you might have your students compare their graphs to similar graphs from other eras. Your students can note the differences and similarities, and see how similar events like disease and famine had differing affects due to new medicine or technology.

A Day in the Life

Materials:

  • Coloring supplies
  • Paper
  • Computers

Instructions:

  • Explain to your students that there were many different roles that people had during the Late Middle Ages. There were farmers, peasants, artisans, nuns, abbess, vassal, bailiff, and many others. Ask your students to each choose one role to learn more about.
  • Your students should research their chosen role and learn more about what that person's life and occupation might have been like.
  • Ask your students to write a diary entry from the point-of-view of a fictional person who lived in that chosen role. They should consider how the information from their research will affect the small details of daily life for their fictional person.
  • Have your students make an accompanying illustration for their diary entry. Post these around the classroom for other students to see.

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