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Ch 4: Early Civilizations High School World History Lesson Plans

About This Chapter

The Early Civilizations chapter of this course is designed to help you plan and teach about the first human communities. The video lessons, quizzes and transcripts can easily be adapted to provide your lesson plans with engaging and dynamic educational content. Make planning your course easier by using our syllabus as a guide.

Weekly Syllabus

Below is a sample breakdown of the Early Civilizations chapter into a 5-day school week. Based on the pace of your course, you may need to adapt the lesson plan to fit your needs.

DayTopicsKey Terms and Concepts Covered
Monday The last Ice Age
Origins of humankind
Foraging and pastoral nomadic societies
Preliterate cultures
How the calming of the climate resulted in change for human societies;
Description of homo sapiens and how they evolved;
Characteristics of foraging and pastoral nomadic societies;
Differences between Paleolithic and Neolithic societies
TuesdayNeolithic agricultural revolution
Neolithic technologies
Development of religion
How agriculture developed and how it changed society;
Technologies including weaving, pottery and stonework;
Changes in religion during the Stone and Bronze Ages
WednesdayDevelopment of hierarchical structures
Mother goddess worship
The Great Flood
Rise of chiefs and emperors;
Mystery cults and the origins of the mother goddess religions;
Explanations for the flood, how population migrations can be tracked by languages
ThursdayImpact of rivers
Rise of the cities
Walls, roads and bronze
How rivers aided the development of early civilizations;
Changes that made cities possible;
Technologies that changed war and civilization
FridayThe horse and chariot
Money
Horse Peoples
How the horse and chariot changed the nature of war;
The invention of money and more complex economies;
Meaning of civilization, with a look at the Horse Peoples

16 Lessons in Chapter 4: Early Civilizations High School World History Lesson Plans
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
The Last Ice Age: Thawing Ice and New Human Opportunities

1. The Last Ice Age: Thawing Ice and New Human Opportunities

What is an ice age? How did the latest period of glaciation form our species? How has the abundance of this latest period of interglaciation changed our behavior? Watch this lesson to find out.

The Origins of Humankind

2. The Origins of Humankind

In this lesson, we explore the fascinating and diverse species of hominids that belong to the evolutionary tree of humankind, as well as the important developments in its history.

Preliterate Cultures: Paleolithic vs Neolithic

3. Preliterate Cultures: Paleolithic vs Neolithic

In this lesson we briefly explore the origins of Homo sapiens before discovering the differences between the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras of human civilization.

Neolithic Agricultural Revolution: Causes and Implications

4. Neolithic Agricultural Revolution: Causes and Implications

A long, long time ago, human beings roamed the earth looking for food. Then the agricultural revolution struck! What are the benefits of an agrarian society, and how have they shaped the way we live today?

Technologies of the Neolithic Era

5. Technologies of the Neolithic Era

In this lesson, we explore some of the technologies invented, innovated, and changed by Neolithic people as well as the way it improved their lives and lessened their workload.

How Religion Developed in the Stone Age and Bronze Age

6. How Religion Developed in the Stone Age and Bronze Age

Have you ever wondered exactly how religion developed in the ancient world? Check out this lesson to see how the impact of cities, writing and invasion upon religion, the ascent of the sky father and the descent of the mother goddess contributed to the development of religion.

Development of Hierarchical Structures: Chiefs to Emperors in History

7. Development of Hierarchical Structures: Chiefs to Emperors in History

This lesson will explore society's need for hierarchies, as well as kinship as a basis of hierarchical structures. Various forms of hierarchy will be briefly explored and...spoiler alert...they all come back to kinship.

Mystery Cults and the Early Mother Goddess

8. Mystery Cults and the Early Mother Goddess

What kind of problems do we encounter when talking about ancient religions? What are the Mother Goddess figures, and where do they pop up throughout history? Watch this lesson to learn about one of the earliest forms of religious worship.

The Great Flood and Population Migrations

9. The Great Flood and Population Migrations

The Great Flood myth has been around for over eight millennia. Could it be more than a myth? What could have caused such a flood, and what effects has it had on humans?

Villages to Cities: How Cities Were Invented

10. Villages to Cities: How Cities Were Invented

In this video lesson, you'll meet Uruk, a lone farmer living in ancient Mesopotamia. As Uruk tries to become a successful farmer, he realizes the difficulties in sustaining a fruitful farm without the help of a community. Watch to understand how these difficulties contributed to the creation of villages and cities throughout history.

Walls, Roads & Bronze: Tools of Empire Creation

11. Walls, Roads & Bronze: Tools of Empire Creation

Learn some of the tools of the empire creation trade. In this video lesson, we'll explore the wall as a tough nut to be cracked, the strategic importance of roads and the advances made possible by bronze.

The Horse and Chariot: Tools of Empire Creation

12. The Horse and Chariot: Tools of Empire Creation

Horses were first used in warfare to pull chariots. Though horses were eventually ridden by cavalry, it was the chariot that first moved soldiers faster than man. In this lesson, you'll learn about the creation of the chariot, and its benefits during wartime.

The History of Money and Rise of Complex Economies

13. The History of Money and Rise of Complex Economies

This lecture covers the development of money in response to the needs of complex economies. It begins with a discussion of gift economies. It then examines the factors that led to the growth of commodity economies. Find out how we came to use money, rather than goods, for commerce.

Horse People and Nomadic Pastoralism: What is Civilization?

14. Horse People and Nomadic Pastoralism: What is Civilization?

This lecture examines the downsides and limits of settled agriculture and civilization. It then explores how 'civilized' forces are able to displace other systems. Horse people are introduced as a counterpoint to civilization and nomadic pastoralism as a successful alternative method of living. Finally it follows the conflict between nomadic pastoralists and settled agriculturalists throughout history.

Foraging & Pastoral Nomadic Societies: Definition & Characteristics

15. Foraging & Pastoral Nomadic Societies: Definition & Characteristics

This lesson will discuss those who practice foraging and pastoralism for survival. We will also define the term 'nomadic' and focus on what it means to be egalitarian.

Rivers' Impact on Early Civilizations

16. Rivers' Impact on Early Civilizations

This lesson explains why ancient civilizations developed along rivers. In doing this, it highlights the importance of food supplies, flooding, and the process of irrigation.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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Other Chapters

Other chapters within the High School World History Curriculum Resource & Lesson Plans course

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