Ch 20: Pre-European Civilizations in North America High School World History Lesson Plans

About This Chapter

The Pre-European Civilizations in North America chapter of this course is designed to help you plan and teach early civilizations in the Americas in your classroom. 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 Pre-European Civilizations in North America 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 Early people in the Americas Origins of Native Americans, the Bering Land Bridge, Atlantic and Oceania Theories
Tuesday Mesoamerican and Mayan civilizations Rise of Mesoamerican civilizations (Olmec, Moche, Mayas, Toltecs, Incas and Aztecs); economic, political, cultural and religious characteristics of Mayan civilization
Wednesday Mayan decline, the Aztecs and Incas Mayan cultural decline around 800 C.E; rise and fall of the Aztec and Incan Empires
Thursday Pre-Columbian civilizations The cultural tribes of Native America
Friday Native American tribes Characteristics of the Apache, Navajo, Mandan, Inuit and Aleut civilizations

10 Lessons in Chapter 20: Pre-European Civilizations in North America High School World History Lesson Plans
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Native American History: Origins of Early People in the Americas

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.

Mesoamerican Civilizations: The Olmecs to Cortes

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.

Mayan Civilization: Economy, Politics, Culture & Religion

3. Mayan Civilization: Economy, Politics, Culture & Religion

In this lesson, we explore the Mayan civilization of Southern Mexico and Central America. A rich and culturally-vibrant civilization, its sudden disappearance from the annals of history have puzzled scholars for years.

Mayan Disappearance: Theories & Concept

4. Mayan Disappearance: Theories & Concept

For many years, archaeologists have studied the collapse of the Maya civilization. Learn the different theories archaeologists believe were responsible for the downfall of the Maya.

The Aztecs: Civilization & Culture

5. The Aztecs: Civilization & Culture

A mythical origin, an intricate political and social system, impressive accomplishments, bloodthirsty gods, and a violent clash of two cultures - watch this video to learn more about the interesting history of the Aztecs!

The Incan Empire: History & Fall

6. The Incan Empire: History & Fall

If we look at 15th-century Mesoamerica, we see that the fastest growing empire of the time was the Incan Empire. The Inca created an elaborate society, which, before it fell to the Spanish, was the largest nation on Earth, and it remains the largest native state to have existed in the western hemisphere.

Pre-Columbian Civilization: North American Indians Before Europeans

7. 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.

The Apache, Navajo & Mandan Civilizations

8. The Apache, Navajo & Mandan Civilizations

In this lesson, we explore three Native American tribes in, what is today, the America's Southwest and Midwest. Though all three were different cultures, they were all ultimately decimated by the same thing: contact with European settlers.

The Inuit & Aleut Civilizations of the Far North

9. The Inuit & Aleut Civilizations of the Far North

In this lesson, we explore the northern North American civilization of the Inuit and the Aleut, who eked out livings in the roughest of North American climates.

The Inca Civilization and Pizarro: Pre-Columbian South America

10. 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.

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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