Alexander the Great 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.

Enhance your instruction with a video and directions for how to lead an in-class discussion about the life, conquests, and impact of Alexander the Great and the process of Hellenization.

Learning Objectives

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

  • Discuss the rise and fall of Alexander the Great's Empire.
  • Explain how Alexander sought to create a synthesis of culture across his domain.
  • Comprehend the concept of Hellenization and its role in later history.


40 minutes

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.


Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

Key terms

By the end of this lesson, students should be able to describe the life of Alexander the Great in some detail. Additionally, they should be able to define the following:

  • Philip of Macedon
  • Persian Empire
  • Hellenization


Before starting this lesson, review with students the nature of the Greek city states, especially that they were divided. Ask them to compare and contrast this with the Persian Empire.


  • Play the video Alexander the Great & the Birth of Hellenism, pausing it at the following points for discussion. Encourage students to take notes on the key terms listed above during the video.
  • 2:37 - For centuries the Greek city-states had appeared impossible to unite. How do you think Philip's actions influenced his son Alexander? Do you think Alexander may have wanted to outdo his father?
  • 6:20 - Alexander went as far as to marry a Persian wife. What does this and other actions say about Alexander's desire for his empire? Did he want the peoples of his empire to get along, or was he content to simply conquer?
  • 8:07 - We just talked about how Alexander sought to take the best out of his conquered lands. Now we see Alexander bringing the best of Greece to his new lands. Discuss. Also, do you think Alexander really said 'the strongest?' on his death-bed? Why might later historians, who received their salaries from the people who tried to succeed Alexander, say this?


One of the keys to Alexander's success against the Indians was his use of the phalanx.

  • Assemble your students into a phalanx, shoulder to shoulder.
  • To get the greatest effect from this, have all of your class (minus 2 or 3 students) assemble into the phalanx.
  • Using foam noodles or wooden dowels, ask them how they think that, if everyone was resolved to battle, this would fare against a war elephant.
  • For the 2 or 3 students not in the phalanx, have them stand on a chair to get some idea of what it was like to tower over a phalanx.
  • Then ask how safe those in the phalanx feel once some of their classmates have run away scared.
  • Also, ask those standing on the chart if it is less intimidating when there are gaps in the phalanx.


  • Consider asking students to make connections between Alexander the Great and other great conquerors, such as Julius Caesar or Chandragupta.
  • Ask students to research the Greco-Bactrian Empire, another one of the Hellenistic successor states. How did it combine Greek and Indian influences?
  • Discuss how the world would have been a different place had Alexander not died at such an early age.
  • Have students make maps of Alexander's conquests. On a projector, show a map of Alexander's conquests, then compare it with the Persian, Assyrian, and Egyptian empires of earlier antiquity.

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