Baltimore Curriculum Project Draft Lessons

Introductory Notes

These lessons generally follow the grade-by-grade topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence, but they have been developed independent of the Core Knowledge Foundation. While the Core Knowledge Foundation encourages the development and sharing of lessons based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, it does not endorse any one set of lesson plans as the best or only way that the knowledge in the Sequence should be taught.

You may feel free to download and distribute these lessons, but please note that they are currently in DRAFT form. At this time the draft lessons on this web site do NOT have accompanying graphics, such as maps or cut-out patterns. Graphics will be added to this site later.

In participating BCP schools, these lessons are used in conjunction with the Direct Instruction skills programs in reading, language, and math. If you use or adapt these lessons, keep in mind that they are meant to address content and the application of skills. You will need to use other materials to ensure that children master skills in reading, language, and math.

First Grade - American Civilization - Overview

The opening lessons of first grade American Civilization set the stage for the development of the Maya, Inca and Aztec civilizations, and North American Civilization from the first colonies through exploration of the west.

The essential elements of this unit include the movement of the earliest people across the land bridge and their evolution from nomads and hunters, to hunters and farmers, eventually leading to the development of early towns and cities.

Suggested books are listed with each lesson. It was difficult to find age-appropriate information on the topic of the land bridge and the ice age so books suggested for classroom use are few in number. Be certain that the students know that at one point in the history of the world it was possible to travel across land from Asia to North America.


First Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 1 - The Ice Age


Describe what the earth looked like during the Ice Age.

Locate where the land bridge was on a map or globe.

Describe how the land bridge disappeared.

Define nomad.

Retell the progression of nomadic people into North America.


Globe or classroom size world map


Show the children a globe or classroom size world map. Review with them that a globe is like a miniature model of the earth. It is used to locate places on the earth. Choose one of the following ways to meet the lesson objectives:


A. Use a nonfiction book of your choice as a way of sharing the information. A suggestion: The Discovery of the Americas by Betsy and Giulio Maestro (pp. 3-9).


B. Tell the children a story about the Ice Age and the progression of nomads across the land bridge. At the end of the lesson there is a possible story for you to use or modify as you wish.

When you have finished the book or story, hand out a piece of drawing paper to each child. Demonstrate as you tell the children to fold the paper in half (diagram shown below).

Have the children draw a picture of the hunters during the Ice Age on the left side of the page. On the right side, have them draw a picture showing the end of the Ice Age, many thousands of years later, when the people became farmers and began to build homes and permanent settlements.

Coming Out of the Ice Age

(Use your globe to help you tell the story.)

Many thousands of years ago, the earth did not look the way it does today. Instead of the earth being covered with land and water the way it is now, the northern part of North America, Europe, and Asia was covered in ice. Imagine having ice and snow as far as the eye could see, sort of like a giant skating rink where the ice was so thick that people and animals could walk on it without being afraid of falling through. We often refer to this time as the Ice Age. Ask: Why do you think we would call this time in history the Ice Age?


First Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 1 - The Ice Age

The ice and cold wiped out some plants and animals. Other animals moved south to find food. The people who lived during that time were hunters. They killed animals for their food and made clothing from the animals' skins.

We call people who move around without having a permanent home, nomads. The hunters who lived during the Ice Age were nomads because they didn't live in one place; instead they followed the animals that they hunted to get their food and clothing. They killed small animals with spears. Large animals were killed by digging pits and covering them, so that an animal would be trapped in the pit and the hunter could kill the animal with huge stones.

These nomads lived mostly in caves or made shelters out of animal skins. They built fires for warmth and their tools were made of flint (a hard, gray stone) and bone.

People and animals came to the continent of North America from the continent of Asia by crossing a land bridge that used to be between the two continents. Show the children where the land bridge was, using either a map or globe. The animals traveled first, and the nomads followed them looking for food. After a long time, the land bridge disappeared when the ice began to melt and water covered the land bridge.

As the climate became warmer, the way people lived also changed. The large animals that the nomads hunted died out, either because the hunters killed too many of them or because they couldn't live in the warmer climate. The wandering hunters, or nomads, had to find new kinds of food, so they hunted smaller animals, fished, and gathered fruits. They stopped moving from place to place and built small homes. After a while they began to plant their own food and became farmers.

Suggested Books

Bush, Timothy. Grunt! The Primitive Cave Boy. New York: Crown, 1995.

Maestro, Betsy and Giulio. The Discovery of the Americas. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1991.

Stille, Darlene. The Ice Age: A New True Book. Chicago: Children's Press, 1990.

Teacher Resource

Lauber, Patricia. All About the Ice Age. New York: Random House, 1959.

Maynard, Christopher. The Great Ice Age. New York: Warwick, 1979.

Additional Activity



Clay or modeling dough

Shallow container


Use the following demonstration to show how melting ice caused the water level of the ocean to rise and cover the land bridge that connected Asia to North America during the Ice Age. Using clay, create a model of two areas of land connected by a shallow strip of land (the land BCP DRAFT HIST 4

First Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 1 - The Ice Age

bridge). Add water, keeping the land strip slightly exposed. Next, add a layer of ice cubes over much of the land and water. Have the children check and note the changes they observe every few minutes as the ice begins to melt. The water level will rise, eventually submerging the land strip.


First Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 2


Become familiar with the animals that lived during the Ice Age.


Ice Age worksheet



Review with the children that the Ice Age nomads hunted animals for a variety of reasons. In addition to being a source of food for the hunters, the animals were also hunted for their skin, which was used to make clothing. Some nomads also used the animals' skins to make shelters, such as tepees or huts.

Read one of the books listed below aloud to the class. Review the animals from the Ice Age that are mentioned in the book. Draw a chart on the board. On one side write plant eaters and on the other side write meat eaters. Have the children name animals that lived during the Ice Age and write each animal's name in the appropriate column.

The following is an example:

Plant Eaters Meat Eaters

Wooly Mammoths Saber-tooth Tiger

Wooly Rhinoceros Wolves

Bison Cave Lion



Tell the children that some animals managed to grow long hair or thick fur so that they could survive in the cold. Others died and became extinct, which means there are not any animals of that kind alive any longer.

There are modern day equivalents to some of the Ice Age animals. Hand out an Ice Age worksheet to each child. Point out to the children that the animals on the right side under the Now column are animals that are alive today and the animals on the left side are animals that were alive during the Ice Age. Point to each of the animals in the Ice Age column and have children identify it. Do the same thing with the animals in the Now column. Have the children color the animals in both columns. Have the children tell you the similarities and differences between the Ice Age animals and the present day animals (the Ice Age animals had longer hair, the saber-tooth tiger had larger teeth than the modern day tiger, etc).

Suggested Books

Aliki. Wild and Wooly Mammoths. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1977.

Brett, Jan. First Dog. San Diego: HBJ, 1988.

Gerrard, Mike. Mik's Mammoth. New York: Farrar Strauss, 1990.

Gibbons, Gail. Prehistoric Animals. New York: Holiday House, 1988.

Greene, Ellin. The Legend of the Cranberry. A Paleo-Indian Tale. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Matthews, Ruppert. Ice Age Animals. New York: Bookwright Press, 1990.


First Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 3


Create animal drawings in the style of prehistoric cave paintings.


Picture of a cave drawing from the Ice Age

Brown paper bags cut in half or brown paper


Black, brown, red, orange, or gold (earth tones) chalk or tempera paint

Paintbrushes (if you use paint)


Tell the students that during the time when the dinosaurs lived the earth was hot and swampy. Slowly, the earth became cold, glaciers formed, and ice spread over much of the earth. Sheets of ice covered many parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. Call on students to locate these continents on a map. Tell the children some scientists believe it is possible that the dinosaurs became extinct, which means there were not any animals of that kind alive any longer, during this time because they were not able to survive the cold. Other animals did not die out. Some moved south and others stayed in the north and adapted to the cold by growing heavy coats of fur.

Tell the children we are going to talk about two of the ways we know that animals were alive so far back in history. One way is that fossils (the bones of animals) from Ice Age animals have been found and studied by archaeologists. Another way is that cave paintings of the animals painted by people who lived during the Ice Age have been found.

Show the class a picture of cave drawings and/or sculptures (possible resources listed below). Ask: Why do you think the Ice Age artists used these animals in their artwork? Have the children tell you how many animals they see and what kinds of animals they see in the artwork.

Give each child half of a brown paper bag or brown paper, and drawing or painting materials. Tell the children that in order to make the surface of the bag like that of a rock, they are going to crumple up the paper in a ball and then spread it back out again. Ask: What do you notice about the way the paper feels and looks? Tell the students that the cave artists used the bumps and cracks on the cave as part of their painting and that they can do this as well. Have them first use a pencil to make a rough sketch on the bag; then go over the pencil marks with charcoal, chalk, or paint. They may want to draw animals that are like those in prehistoric cave paintings or animals that are more familiar to them, such as dogs barking or birds flying.

Be sure to tell them that they do not need to include every detail, but should instead make their animals from simple shapes and strong lines. (Demonstrate these two characteristics on the board by drawing thick lines and simple shapes to form the outline of an animal.) After they go over the pencil lines with charcoal, chalk, or paint, the children will color the inside of the figure with earth tones and add details, such as eyes, tails, or ears.

Suggested Books - These books have pictures of prehistoric art in them.

Chertok, Bobbi, Goody Hirshfeld, and Marilyn Rosh. Learning About Ancient Civilizations Through Art. New York: Scholastic, 1993. (poster included with book of cave

painting from Lascaux, France circa 15,000 B.C.)


First Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 3

Suggested Books (cont.)

Chorlton, Windsor. Planet Earth: Ice Ages. Alexandria: Time-Life, 1983. (pp. 36-37)

Lee, D. Neil. Art on the Rocks of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Punell, 1970.

Leroi-Gourhan, Andre. Treasures of Prehistoric Art. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1967.

Mazonowicz, Douglas. Voices from the Stone Age: A Search for Cave and Canyon Art. New York: Crowell, 1974.

Sieveking, Ann. The Cave Artists. London: Thames and Hudson, 1979.

Tobrugge, Walter. Prehistoric European Art. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1968.