• Lesson 7: On the Road with Marco Polo: From Hormuz to Venice

    A map of Marco Polo's route to and from China.

    Marco Polo was on the last leg of his journey home from China to Venice. After visiting several seaports in India, he and his party sailed across the Arabian Sea and to the mouth of the Persian Gulf, landing at the port city of Hormuz, where they decided to travel eastward across Asia following a land route.

  • Lesson 3: United States Entry into World War I: A Documentary Chronology of World War I

    United States Entry into World War I: Portrait of Woodrow Wilson

    In this lesson of the curriculum unit, students reconsider the events leading to U.S. entry into World War I through the lens of archival documents.

  • Lesson 2: The Debate in Congress on the Sedition Act

    James Madison.

    What provisions in the U.S. Constitution are relevant to the debate over the Sedition Act? For this lesson, students will read brief excerpts from actual debates in the House of Representatives as the legislators attempted to work with the version of the bill "Punishment of Crime" (later known as the Sedition Act) already passed by the Senate.

  • Marco Polo Takes A Trip

    A map of Marco Polo's route to and from China.

    During the Middle Ages, most people in Europe spent their entire lives in the village where they were born. But in the 13th century, a young Italian named Marco Polo traveled all the way to China! In this lesson, students will learn about the remarkable travels of Marco Polo.

  • Chaucer's Wife of Bath

    Wife of Bath

    Look into the sources of the Wife’s sermon on women’s rights to learn how real women lived during the Middle Ages.

  • Exploring Arthurian Legend

    Arthur thumb

    Trace the elements of myth and history in the world of the Round Table.

  • Lesson 3: Victory and the New Order in Europe

    Conference of the Big Three at Yalta makes final plans for the defeat of Germany

    By the beginning of 1944, victory in Europe was all but assured. The task of diplomacy largely involved efforts to define the structure of the postwar world. Why and how did the United States attempt to preserve the Grand Alliance as American diplomats addressed European issues?

  • Lesson 1: How "Grand" and "Allied" was the Grand Alliance?

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Declaration of War against Japan,  December 8, 1941.

    This lesson plan will survey the nature of what Winston Churchill called the Grand Alliance between the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union in opposition to the aggression of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

  • Leonardo da Vinci: Creative Genius

    Leonardo Vitruvian

    Leonardo da Vinci—one of history’s most imaginative geniuses—was certainly born at the right time and in the right place. In this lesson plan, the students will explore Leonardo da Vinci and the age in which he lived and consider the meaning of the Greek quotation, “Man is the measure of all things” and why it particularly applies to the Renaissance and to Leonardo.

    Lesson Plans: Grades 3-5
    Curriculum Unit

    What's In A Name? (4 Lessons)

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    The Unit

    Overview

    MacDonald. Carpenter. Underwood. Green. These are typical American names that reflect a family's British origins—but they tell us little about the people who currently bear them. How times have changed! In the Middle Ages, a person's second name served a useful function. In some cases, it revealed where he lived; in others, it told who his father was, what he did for a living, or even what he looked like.

    In this unit, students will learn about the origins of four major types of British surnames. They will consult lists to discover the meanings of specific names and later demonstrate their knowledge of surnames through various group activities. They will then compare the origins of British to certain types of non-British surnames. In a final activity, the students will research the origins and meanings of their own family names.

    Guiding Questions

    • What are the origins of British surnames?
    • What did these names once tell about the people who bore them?
    • What similarities exist between British and non-British surnames?
    • How can we find the origins of our own surnames?

    Learning Objectives

    • Explain how and why surnames came to be
    • Describe four types of British surnames and give examples of each
    • Compare the derivations of British and certain non-British surnames
    • Tell the origin and meaning of their own surnames

    Preparation Instructions

    Become familiar with the materials used in the lesson plan. Locate and bookmark websites you plan to use. Download and duplicate charts used in the activities. Secure several copies of a local phonebook for the Assessment exercise in Lesson 3.

    You can find additional background information about surnames at the following sites:

    The Lessons

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    3-5

    Subject Areas
    • Art and Culture > Subject Matter > Anthropology
    • History and Social Studies > Place > Europe
    • History and Social Studies > Place > The Americas
    • History and Social Studies > World > The Medieval World (500 CE-1500 CE)
    • History and Social Studies > Place > The Middle East
    • History and Social Studies > Place > Asia
    Skills
    • Critical thinking
    • Cultural analysis
    • Discussion
    • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
    • Interpretation
    • Logical reasoning
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions