Fifth Grade Native Americans and Explorers Lesson 5 Title: Marco Polo and the Silk Road Grade Level

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Lesson 5

Title: Marco Polo and the Silk Road
Grade Level: 5
Unit of Study: Native Americans and Explorers


Use case studies of individual explorers and stories of life in Europe to compare the goals, obstacles, motivations, and consequences for European exploration and colonization of the Americas (e.g., economic, political, cultural, and religious).

Abstract: In this lesson, students will learn the necessary background information about European exploration through a study of Marco Polo and his travels along the Silk Road.

Key Concepts:

Marco Polo published accounts of his travels to Asia. These accounts inspired others to explore.

Life changes with exploration

Sequence of Activities:

  1. Read an account of Marco Polo’s travels and show pictures or United Streaming Video: Animated Hero Classics: Marco Polo about Marco Polo’s travels.

  2. Introduce a map and outline the Silk Road.

  3. Have the students smell spices and feel silk. Brainstorm why spices and silk would have been sought by the Europeans (preserving meat).

  4. Have students complete Formative Assessment #5.

Formative Assessment (#5): You are Marco Polo!

Write a diary account about one day on your travel to Asia. Include illustrations of your discoveries so you can show the people back home in Europe.


English Language Arts

Formative Assessment


*Possible connection – distance, map scale

Instructional Resources:


Student Resources

Teacher Resources

United Streaming Video: Animated Hero Classics: Marco Polo
Marco Polo, A Journey Through China by Fiona MacDonald

Calhoun ISD Social Studies Curriculum Design Project

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