Table Of Contents

Lesson 1 - Out of Africa: Why Early Humans Settled Around the World

Students view a map showing early human migration patterns and brainstorm reasons why people may have migrated. After reviewing defi nitions of terms relating to migration, they participate in an activity where they identify push and pull factors for early human migrations. They are presented with an overview of reasons for human migration. The lesson concludes with a discussion of costs and benefits of migrating.

Lesson 2 - How Neolithic Farmers Increased Their Standard of Living

Students participate in an active simulation involving families of farmers in the Neolithic period. They make decisions about whether or not to take time to produce capital goods, with the goal of producing enough wheat to survive, better clothing, and improved shelter. They discover that investing in capital goods enables them to improve their standard of living.

Lesson 3 - The Neolithic Agricultural Revolution

Students read about and discuss the impact of the invention of the wooden plow on agricultural output, farmers, and consumers. They will use the wooden plow example to identify the potential relationships between agricultural innovations and food output, improved standards of living, and the population of ancient societies. Students then study a multi-tiered timeline showing key agricultural innovations in ancient times and suggest impacts on agricultural output, farmers, and consumers. From the multi-tiered timeline, students can draw conclusions about the impact of increased agricultural output on individuals and societies. Finally, students participate in a simple simulation that illustrates how the introduction of a new technology can increase labor productivity. As an assessment, students read a fictional story and answer questions about a farming family in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia around 4000 B.C.E.

Lesson 4 - Great Civilizations Develop Around Rivers

This lesson illustrates how rivers such as the Tigris, Euphrates, Nile and Indus rivers increased the flow of resources, goods, services and ideas in the great civilizations from 4000 to 1000 B.C.E. In this lesson, students assume the role of producers in a three-round production simulation. They must produce (draw with markers or crayons) three distinct items—a hoe, a staff and a spear—in order to feed themselves and their families. In Round One, they are selfsufficient and must complete all of their work without access to other markets. In Round Two, they divide the responsibilities of production based on specialized skills. Trade is now permitted, but geographic barriers to trade obstruct it. In Round Three, the barriers are removed to represent the greater connectivity of markets made possible by rivers. Students experience how the improved flow results in surplus production and specialization, which brought many benefits to all those involved in voluntary trade.

Lesson 5 - Entrepreneurs in Mesopotamia

In this lesson, students read a one-page description of entrepreneurship in the Neo-Babylonian Empire (626 to 539 B.C.E.). They learn about entrepreneurship and the profi t motive for entrepreneurs. The students, working in groups, participate in an entrepreneurial production activity in which they design, produce, and sell textiles as Babylonian entrepreneurs. After selling their textiles, the groups calculate their profits or losses.

Lesson 6 - India and the Caste System in 200 B.C.E.

Students examine the Indian culture and economy in the year 200 B.C.E., and explore the traditional institution of castes that defi ned people's lives and the Indian economy of that era. Students read about the caste system and how it organized the Indian society. The students then compare the characteristics of the Indian economy in 200 B.C.E. to the general characteristics of market, command, and traditional economic systems in order to better understand the Indian economy. They answer the question, "What kind of economic system existed in India in 200 B.C.E.: a market economy, a command economy, a traditional economy, or a mixture of several kinds of economies?"

Lesson 7 - The Silk Road

This lesson explores the Silk Road from Chang'an, China, to Rome, sometime during the second century C.E. Students learn to think as traders in six cities along the Silk Road, bartering with traders from neighboring cities. As the silk moves west toward Rome and gold moves east toward Chang'an, students will see changes in the values of the goods they trade. After an introductory reading about the Silk Road, the students will use economic reasoning to calculate the prices for goods along the Silk Road. They will then learn if a trade is a good deal or a bad deal. Finally, the students decide if it is beneficial to take other routes to China.

Lesson 8 - Athens and Sparta-Imagine the Possibilities

In this lesson, students learn about important similarities and differences between two key Greek city-states, Athens and Sparta. The students will read a passage about each society and complete a compare-and-contrast activity using a Venn diagram. Next, students learn about the economic concepts of scarcity, choice, and opportunity cost in the context of a production possibilities frontier. Finally, using the concept of opportunity cost and the production possibilities frontier, students answer a key historic question: Why did Athens and Sparta, while similar in many ways, develop into such different economic systems?

Lesson 9 - Athens and Olive Oil

In this lesson, students participate in a hypothetical Athenian assembly to discuss the Athenian trade policy with Egypt. While Athenian farmland does not grow the wheat necessary to sustain the population, it is conducive to growing olives, which are used to produce olive oil—a valuable trade commodity. The Athenian assembly decides to send a trade delegation to Egypt to discuss trade terms with Egyptian merchants. Students learn that both parties can benefit by specializing and trading.

Lesson 10 - Fall of Rome

This lesson highlights the economic role of government in the period leading up to the fall of Rome. Like most lessons on government, it emphasizes the beneficial aspects. However, unique to this lesson, it investigates some of the weaknesses of government by focusing on some of the governmental decisions that contributed to the fall of Rome. This investigation helps students understand why governments, like markets, can and do fail. Specifi cally, this lesson discusses how even well-intentioned government offi cials may make decisions that are not in the best economic interests of citizens.

Lesson 11 - Economic Systems of the Incas and Aztecs

Groups of students produce jewelry in one of three economic systems. Groups share how they answered the three basic economic questions. The class then determines the type of economic system in which they produced. From a reading on pre-Columbian societies, students determine which economic system the Incas and Aztecs were most like.

Lesson 12 - Mansa Musa: Inflation Then and Now

Students participate in two auctions to gain an understanding of the concept of inflation. They use what they've learned about inflation to explain the impact Mansa Musa had on Egypt during his hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca. Finally, students look at a Middle School Consumer Price Index for two time periods and draw conclusions about how inflation can affect consumers.

Lesson 13 - Paper Money of the Sung, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties

In this lesson, students participate in a trading activity using play paper money. They learn about the characteristics and functions of money. The students identify how the paper money in the trading activity demonstrates each of money's three functions. The students complete a reading about the adoption and abandonment of paper money in China during the Sung, Yuan, and Ming dynasties. Finally, the students work in groups to evaluate different commodities' ability to function as money using spider graphs.

Lesson 14 - The Economic System of Medieval Europe

Working in groups, students, as serfs, play three rounds of a simple production activity to experience life in a manorial system. In the third round, new technology and incentives are introduced. Students learn about new capital goods, techniques, and the importance of private incentives that promoted economic growth during the Middle Ages. Finally, students answer the three economic questions that people in every society face and determine what type of economic system the manorial system was most like.

Lesson 15 - Wages and the Black Death

Students will learn that a plague called the Black Death caused a large decrease in the population of Europe in the 14th century as well as an increase in workers' wages. Students will also learn that efforts by European producers and governments to resist wage increases, such as the Statute of Laborers in 1351, were unsuccessful. As workers' wages rose, they experienced an increase in their standard of living. Producers switched to raising sheep and other activities that required less labor. Students will complete a sequence chart on which they will record the order of events after fleas and rats spread the plague throughout Europe. The final activity of the lesson is an imaginary trial in which the black rat is accused of responsibility for the Black Death. Selected students will read the testimony of the trial and the other students will serve as jurors and decide the guilt or innocence of the black rat.

Lesson 16 - Business in the Middle Ages: Working in a Guild

Students take part in a production activity that emphasizes the importance of job skills and training, which were provided by guilds in medieval Europe. They are introduced to information about the organization and purposes of guilds and the effects of specialization and monopoly power. Finally, they inspect an adaptation of a document from the Hatters Guild of London in 1347 to draw conclusions about the roles of guild members and the Hatters Guild.

Lesson 17 - Why Didn't China Discover the New World?

Students read about two unnamed explorers and the resources they used. Using a graphic organizer, they learn about the huge differences between the explorers' available resources and technology. Based on this information, students will predict which explorer would be most likely to "discover" the New World. Students are most likely to choose Explorer B, who is revealed to be Zheng He, a Chinese explorer. Students may be surprised, because Christopher Columbus is given credit for discovering the New World. The question posed: With all its technology and resources, why didn't China discover the New World?

Lesson 18 - Christopher Columbus, Entrepreneur? Queen Isabella, Venture Capitalist?

This lesson uses reader's theater to explore economic elements of Columbus' first voyage. Students are introduced to reader's theater and to key economic concepts associated with this episode from history. Students read a short primer on the fundamentals of investing and a special category of investor -- the venture capitalist. The lesson concludes with a 'decision tree' activity used to determine whether Spain's decision to fund Columbus was a sound investment for venture capital.

Lesson 19 - What's the Big Deal About Spices?

The index of almost any world history textbook has an entry for "spices" or "the spice trade." Why are spices so important in world history? The short answer is that some spices—especially black pepper, cinnamon and cloves—were a highly sought after commodity. At times, some spices were more valuable per pound than gold. Spices captured the imagination and taste (quite literally) of medieval European high society. Because spices were expensive and rare, Europeans used them lavishly on food to display their wealth. This very conspicuous consumption helped lead to the era of European exploration (approximately 1300-1600 C.E.), which in turn led to European conquest and colonization of much of the eastern hemisphere (India, Indonesia, etc.). It was European exploration in search of a water route to the Spice Islands—the only place in the world that spices were grown at the time—that led to this colonization. Historian Henry Hobhouse wrote that the "starting point for European Expansion . . . had nothing to do with the rise of religion or the rise of capitalism—but it had a great deal to do with pepper."

Lesson 20 - The Columbian Exchange

In this lesson, students learn that the Columbian Exchange resulted in an enormous exchange of goods, resources, and institutions between the Old World and the New World and that the results of the Exchange were both positive and negative. The lesson begins with an activity in which students are divided into two groups: Old World consumers and New World consumers. Students are given food cards to keep or trade within each group, and later, among consumers from both groups. Although the expansion of trade provides students with more choices and has positive effects, some trades result in negative effects. A second activity summarizes some of the positive and negative impacts of the Columbian Exchange, some of which students experience in the fi rst activity. A final activity describes Tenochtitlan, the capital city of the Aztec civilization that had a relatively well-developed economy in the 15th century despite the lack of capital resources such as iron tools, wheels, and draft animals. The Aztecs adopted legal institutions that protected property rights and supported a market economy. The Spanish, who conquered the Aztecs in 1521, replaced these with institutions that restricted the ability of the native population of Mexico to produce and trade. Similar restrictions were imposed by European colonizers in other New World areas. Students learn that, in addition to the exchange of plants, animals, and culture, the exchange of institutions between the Old World and the New World had an important impact on the future economic growth of countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Lesson 21 - Renaissance Banking

In this lesson, students learn about the important role that Italian bankers played during the Renaissance. They participate in a role-play activity in which they see how, using bills of exchange, Renaissance era bankers facilitated the transfer of funds over long distances. The students read about the successes and failures of bankers during the Renaissance. The students participate in a role-playing activity using playing cards. During the activity, students take deposits and make loans. The students learn how banks channel money from depositors to borrowers. The students also learn why banks charge higher interest rates for riskier loans.

Lesson 22 - Mercantilists and the Midas Touch

The lesson begins with a reading, Mercantilism—Show Me the Gold!, which provides students with an understanding of the basic tenets of mercantilism. The impact of exports and imports on a nation's holdings of gold is discussed. A second reading, The Golden Touch: Was King Midas a Mercantilist?, tells the story of King Midas, who believed that being able to turn everything he touched into gold would make him the happiest man on earth. After he is granted his wish, he finds that the golden touch is a curse, rather than a blessing. The lesson asks students to compare the beliefs of the mercantilists with those of King Midas.

Lesson 23 - Morality in Markets: The Two Faces of Adam Smith

This lesson introduces the student to the two sides of the work of Adam Smith. First, students participate in an active learning exercise that illustrates how free trade in markets can help individuals and nations accumulate wealth. This activity also highlights the benefi ts of competitive and free markets. Second, students participate in discussions that help them understand the importance of morality in markets, as explained by Smith and others. Overall, this lesson addresses these important questions: How can free trade help individuals accumulate wealth? Are competitive individuals who pursue their own self-interests able to provide valuable services to others? Do you gain or lose when you trade with people who only care about themselves? What do you do if trading partners are dishonest and untrustworthy and do not reveal all of the pertinent information? Why is morality important to people who want to help themselves and others grow and develop in their communities, states, and nations through mutually advantageous exchanges?