About This Chapter
Below is a sample breakdown of the First Contacts in the Americas 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.
|Day||Topics||Key Terms and Concepts Covered|
|Monday||Roots of early peoples and Mesoamerican civilizations||African and Middle Eastern origins of Native Americans;|
Geographical definition of Mesoamerica and survey of the Aztecs, Mayans and Olmecs
|Tuesday||Incan and Pre-Columbian civilizations||The Incan Empire and arrival of Francisco Pizarro from Spain|
|Wednesday||Consequences of European colonization||What Old World explorers brought to the New World, including disease, horses and metal tools|
|Thursday||Spanish colonies and explorers||Balboa, Cortes, Ponce de Leon and other major explorers;|
Contrast between conquistadors and explorers and management of the colonies
|Friday||The Columbian Exchange||Exchange of agricultural elements, ideas and technology between the Old World and New World after Christopher Columbus|
1. Native American History: Origins of Early People in the Americas
Because the first humans and civilizations got their start in Africa and the Middle East, historians and anthropologists have had to figure out how Native Americans got to the Americas. In this lesson we look at the three prevailing theories of the earliest migration to the New World.
2. Mesoamerican Civilizations: The Olmecs to Cortes
This lesson focuses on the early cultures of Mesoamerica. The Olmec, Maya, and Aztecs developed great civilizations in Mesoamerica over millennia. Then, after all of this development and the building of a great empire, the Aztec were quickly defeated by Hernando Cortes.
3. The Inca Civilization and Pizarro: Pre-Columbian South America
The Incan Empire was an amazing empire of the early Americas. Their accomplishments rival those of many other great empires, but they were defeated by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in only a few years.
4. Pre-Columbian Civilization: North American Indians Before Europeans
Watch this video for an overview of the cultural groups of Native Americans as they lived at the time of first contact with Europeans. Some of these groupings, like the tribes of the plains, changed so much due to the addition of European influences, such as horses, that there is only conjecture as to how exactly they lived before European contact.
5. Effects of European Colonization: Christopher Columbus and Native Americans
The earliest explorers in the Western Hemisphere left a legacy that would shape the development of the Americas permanently. No matter what they came looking for, Europeans left behind death, horses, and metal.
6. New Spain: Spanish Explorers and Spanish Colonies
Who are the most well-known explorers and conquistadors of the New World? In this lesson, we'll look at some of the most infamous explorers. We'll discover the difference between explorers and conquistadors, and then learn about the encomienda system.
7. The Columbian Exchange
The Columbian Exchange is a term used to denote the world-changing exchange of agricultural goods, slave labor, diseases, and ideas between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres that occurred after the year 1492 CE.
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Other chapters within the Middle School US History Curriculum Resource & Lesson Plans course
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