Mercantilism Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Teaching about mercantilism doesn't have to be tough. simplifies the process with a clear and informative video lesson that directly connects with students. A small group activity allows students to apply what they've learned.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define mercantilism
  • explain the principles of mercantilism
  • apply economic principles of mercantilism
  • analyze the impact of mercantilism


1 to 1.5 hours

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

Key Vocabulary

  • Mercantilism
  • Natural resource
  • Manufactured good
  • Import
  • Export


  • Begin by assigning students to small groups. Each group will form its own country. Students should name their country. They must also outline a plan for making their country the richest and most powerful country in the world.
  • When each group has finished creating a plan for their country, have them share their plans with the class.
  • Now show the video lesson Colonial Mercantilism: Definition, History & Effects, pausing at 0:57.
  • Did the students' plans for their countries match up with the principles of mercantilism as outlined in the video lesson? If not, what was missing? Discuss this as a class.
  • Now play the video lesson again, pausing at 3:17.
  • Have students work in their small groups again to create a list of five natural resources and five manufactured goods for their countries. Have them share their lists with the class.
  • Resume the video lesson, pausing at 5:18.
  • Ask students to work in their small groups again to create a list if five imports and five exports for their countries. Once again, ask them to share their lists with the class for discussion.
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson.
  • Ask the students to use the principles of mercantilism presented in the video lesson to asses which of the student-created countries would be most successful under these policies. Share their ideas with the class for discussion.


  • Have the small groups use the internet to research countries that still practice aspects of mercantilism today. Answer the questions:
    • Which countries are they?
    • How do their economic practices match those of the earliest examples of mercantilism?
  • Have the groups share their findings with the class for discussion.

Discussion Questions

  • What are some reasons why mercantilism has fallen out of favor as the premier economic model for countries?
  • How different might our society be if mercantilism was still the main model for economic structure?


  • Have students compare the economic strength of Great Britain when ruled by mercantilism to its current economic structure. What are the significant differences? Are there any similarities?
  • Have students research the economic status of a third world country. Are there similarities between that country's economic structure and mercantilism?

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