Fourth Grade - World History - Lesson 23 - The Fall of the Roman Empire

Objectives
Identify the reasons behind the fall of the Roman Empire.
Describe the changes that occurred after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Materials
Map of the Roman Empire (attached) - for transparency
Classroom-size world map
Chart paper or sentence strips

Suggested Books
Student Titles
Sauvain, Philip. Castles and Crusaders: Do You Know? About. New York: Warwick Press, 1986.
This chapter book contains fourteen chapters on various aspects of the Middle Ages that would be of interest to fourth graders.

Teacher Reference
Hirsch, E. D. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.
Ross, Stewart. Spotlight on Medieval Europe. East Sussex, England: Wayland, 1986.

Teacher Note:
The Roman Empire is studied in depth in Third Grade.

Procedure
Ask the students to recall what they know about the Roman Empire. Remind the students that the empire began in the city of Rome in Italy and over hundreds of years gradually expanded to include what are today known as southern England, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Germany and France. On a world map, show how large an area this is. Explain that as the Romans conquered new lands, they brought order and civilization to the places they took over: they built roads and buildings similar to the ones they had in Rome and they had a strong army to protect the empire from attacks.

Display the transparency of the Roman Empire. Tell the students that the shaded shows the Roman Empire. Ask: What are some things you notice about the Roman Empire? (Prompt students to discuss the size of the Empire -- that it spread across Europe and Asia, and into northern Africa.) Direct the students' attention to the dark line at the center of the map. Explain to the students that because the empire was large, it was difficult for one person to rule, so it was split by one of its emperors into two parts. Tell the students that the part to the left of the line is the Western Roman Empire and the part to the right is the Eastern Roman Empire.

Explain that even though the empire was split, it was still a very large area to rule and protect. Tell the students that there were groups of people to the north who wanted to take over the lands of the Roman Empire. The groups as a whole were called Germanic tribes. Write the phrase on the board. Direct the students' attention back to the map transparency. Point to the area north of the Roman Empire from which the Germanic tribes came. Tell the students that the names of some of the tribes were the Franks, the Vandals, the Visigoths, and the Saxons. Write these names on the board. Explain that these groups attacked cities in the Roman Empire killing people, stealing, and destroying entire villages.

Tell the students that one reason the Germanic tribes attacked cities in the Roman Empire was that they wanted to take over the wealthy cities and the good farming land that existed in the Roman Empire. Also the tribes were being forced out of their homelands by a tribe from Asia called the Huns. Write the name on the board. Tell the students that the leader of the Huns was named Attila (the Hun) and he was a fierce leader. Attila and his warriors drove the Germanic tribes out of their land in the area north of the Roman Empire.

Explain that even the powerful city of Rome did not last against the attacks of the tribes. Draw a timeline on chart paper or sentence strips. (Leave the timeline posted on the board for future lessons.) Tell the students that the Visigoths attacked Rome in 410 A.D. Write Visigoths and 410 A.D. at the beginning of the time line. Next, the Vandals attacked Rome in 455 A.D. (Add to the timeline.) Ask: What word do we use today to describe when someone destroys someone else's property? (vandalize) Explain that the word vandalize and vandalism came from the name of the Vandal tribe because of the way they destroyed cities, including Rome. Explain that the end of the Roman Empire is said to have happened in 476 A.D., when the last Roman emperor was overthrown by a general from one of the Germanic tribes (add to the timeline).

Ask: What do you know about the Germanic tribes from what you have learned so far? (fierce warriors, attacked Roman cities, etc.) Explain that after Rome was overthrown, the Roman Empire was divided into small regions that were ruled by different tribes.

Write the words Roman Empire on the board. List the characteristics of the Roman Empire under this heading on the board as you discuss them with the students. Tell the students that the Roman Empire was made up of planned cities, an organized system of roads on which to travel, a smoothly running government, laws to keep order and safety, a system of money, and a system of writing.

Ask: What do you think happened to the Roman civilization after the Germanic tribes moved in and took over? Remind the students about the word vandal and give the students a hint by telling them that the time period after the fall of the Roman Empire is sometimes called the Dark Ages. Write the words on the board. Record appropriate student responses on the board.

Tell the students that the term Dark Ages referred to the fact that the Germanic leaders who took over areas of the Roman Empire were not able to keep up the accomplishments of the Romans before them. Therefore a good deal of what the Romans had done in the areas of the arts, medicine, literature, and science were forgotten. Explain that the one thousand years from 450 A.D. to 1400 A.D. were also called the Middle Ages. Write the term on the board. Tell the students that they will be learning more about the Middle Ages in the upcoming lessons.
 

Fourth Grade - World History - Lesson 24 - Routes of the Germanic Tribes

Objectives
Locate the routes of the Germanic tribes into the Roman Empire.
Identify geographic obstacles for each tribe.
Analyze the routes to determine which tribe was most powerful.

Materials
Transparency of the Roman Empire from Lesson 23
Map of the routes of the Germanic tribes (attached) - make into transparency
1 per student
Map of the routes of the Germanic tribes (attached)

Suggested Books
Teacher Reference
Briquebec, John. The Middle Ages: Barbarian Invasions, Empires around the World & Medieval Europe. New York: Warwick Press, 1990.

Corbishley, Mike. The Middle Ages: Cultural Atlas for Young People. New York: Facts on File, 1989.

Procedure
Review with the students that the Roman Empire fell because Germanic tribes from the north attacked and took over areas of the empire. Ask: What is the period of time after the fall of the Roman Empire called? (the Dark Ages or the Middle Ages) Display the transparency of the Roman Empire. Remind the students that the Roman Empire was divided into the West Roman Empire and the East Roman Empire. Ask: Why was the empire divided? (so that each area could be ruled by a different ruler, making it more manageable) Explain that although the Roman Empire had a strong army, the Germanic tribes attacked different areas of the very large empire making it hard for the Romans to defend themselves.

Display the transparency showing the routes of the Germanic tribes. As you mention each of the tribes and the areas they attacked, write the information on the board in two columns -- one for the name of the tribe and one for the place attacked. Have the students notice that the Saxons attacked what is today southern England, the Franks attacked what is today France, the Vandals attacked what is today Spain, and the Visigoths attacked the southern areas of what are today Greece and Italy. Tell the students that on the maps, rivers are shown as dark thin lines and they are each labeled with the name of a river. Point out that some mountains are also shown, such as the Alps and the Pyrenees (show the students the location of each on the transparency).

Tell the students that in order to get to the places they were attacking, the invading tribes not only traveled long distances, but they also had many geographic obstacles to overcome. Divide the students into groups of four. Assign a recorder for each group. Give each student a copy of the map. Tell the students to look at the routes of the tribes and find the geographic obstacles they had to overcome. On a separate sheet of paper, have the each group's recorder keep track of their findings by listing the name of the tribe and the geographic obstacles the tribe overcame to get to their final destination. Since there are four tribes, have each student in the group report on one of the tribes.

Also, have each group compare the routes taken by the tribes and tell which tribe they think was most powerful and why? For example, one group might think the Vandals were the most powerful because they traveled the furthest distance and crossed both the Alps and the Pyrenees, whereas another group might think the Saxons were the most powerful because they had to cross the North Sea.

Add a third column to the board titled geographic obstacles. As the groups report, list the geographic obstacles that the tribes had to cross in order to attack the places they did. The groups should come up with answers similar to the following.

The Saxons had to cross water/the North Sea in order to get to England.

The Franks also had to cross three rivers the Rhine River and two others in France.

The Vandals and the Visigoths traveled farther distances than the Saxons and the Franks. The Vandals traveled west and then south through the Roman Empire to what is today Spain crossing mountains the Pyrenees and the Alps.

The Visigoths traveled along the southern part of the Roman Empire before attacking the city of Rome. The first geographic obstacle that the Visigoths reached was a river- -the Danube.

Ask: Which do you think would be more difficult to travel across, mountains or water? Why? Would the climate or season of the year affect travel across the mountains? water? Discuss the tribe each group thought was the most powerful. Have each team justify their choice.
 

Fourth Grade - World History - Lesson 25 - History of the Christian Church

Objectives
Become familiar with the history of the Christian Church.
Discuss the qualities one would need to have to lead a monastic life.
Identify contributions to society by the monks.

Materials
Timeline on chart paper or sentence strip from Lesson 23

Suggested Books
Student Titles
Sauvain, Philip. Castles and Crusaders: Do You Know? About. New York: Warwick Press, 1986.
Chapter six in this book gives information on life in a monastery and include illustrations picturing monks and a monastery.

Teacher Reference
Hirsch, E. D. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.
Langley, Andrew. Medieval Life. New York: Knopf, 1996.
Ross, Stewart. Spotlight on Medieval Europe. East Sussex, England: Wayland, 1986.

Teacher Note
You may wish to refer to the December lessons in First Grade which provide background information on Christianity.

Procedure
Direct the students' attention to the timeline on the board from Lesson 23. Review with the students that the Roman Empire fell because Germanic tribes from the north attacked and took over areas of the empire. Ask: What is the period of time after the fall of the Roman Empire called? (the Dark Ages or the Middle Ages) Tell the students that in addition to this time being called the Dark Ages or the Middle Ages, this time period is also referred to as "medieval times." (Write on the board.)

Tell the students that one important aspect of the Roman Empire that survived was the Christian Church. Write the words on the board. Tell the students that Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 395 A.D. (Add this date to the timeline.) Explain to the students that after the fall of the Roman Empire the Christian Church was one thing that survived.

Tell the students that the Christian religion began in what is now Israel. Point to Israel on a world map. Explain that the religion originated with Jesus Christ, who was put to death by the Romans. Followers of his teachings became known as Christians. Tell the students that they may have noticed that the notation A.D. has been written after the dates having to do with this time period. Explain that this is because events in history are separated into those that occurred before the birth of Christ and those that occurred after his birth.

Explain that the Christian Church was especially important during the Middle Ages because it became the center of the medieval world and the great unifying element in medieval Europe. Most men and women belonged to the Church and it played an important role in their lives.

Tell the students that the Christian Church was also a powerful institution. The high-ranking officials in the Church were called bishops. Explain that the bishop of Rome became the leader of the Christian Church and was called the pope, which means "father" in Greek. Tell the students that as Christianity spread, people began to argue about beliefs of Christianity and who should lead the Church. The people in what was the East Roman Empire did not believe that the Bishop of Rome should be the leader of the entire Christian religion. Explain that these arguments led to a split in the Christian Church. The two new churches that were created were the Roman Catholic Church in the west and the Eastern Orthodox Church in the east. Tell the students that the pope remained the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Explain that even the Germanic people who settled in the Roman Empire after its fall became Christians. Read the following information from What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know aloud to the students:

Many of the Germanic peoples became Christians. Since the pope was the leader of the Christian Church in Rome, he became, in a way, a leader who ranked above the various Germanic chiefs who had accepted Christianity. The pope became very powerful, in some ways as powerful as the Roman emperor.

Tell the students that one group of people who played an important role in converting people to Christianity were monks who lived during this time. Explain that monks were men who devoted their lives to prayer, study, and work. The places they lived were called monasteries. Write the two words on the board. Explain that during this time monks were among the few people who could read and write so the monasteries where they lived became centers of learning and teaching. Tell the students that the monasteries were the beginning of schools.

The monks also copied entire books by hand since the printing press had not yet been invented and this was the only way to produce and preserve books. Tell the students that monks also spent their time caring for the sick and providing food for the poor. Ask: Considering the contributions the monks made to society during this time, if the monks had never lived how would our world be different? (Some pieces of literature may not have survived, schools may not have developed in the way they did, lives of the poor and sick might have been lost.)

Explain to the students that life in a monastery was not easy. When a man became a monk he was promising to own no property, never marry, and to obey his leaders in the church for the rest of his life. Tell the students that a typical day in the life of a monk was made up of silent prayer eight times a day beginning at 2:00 in the morning every day; manual work such working on the farm (they raised all their own food) or at the mill; study of the bible or other classical works; and teaching younger members of the monastery. Explain that the monks lived apart from other communities and that much of their day was spent in silence -- during work and prayer.

Ask: Do you think you could live a life like that of a monk? Give each student a piece of white lined paper and ask them to write a paragraph about the characteristics a person would need to become a monk, how those characteristics helped them to accomplish the things they did.

Fourth Grade - World History - Lesson 26 - Charlemagne

Objectives
Identify Charlemagne as the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Become familiar with the feudal system.

Materials
Map of the Holy Roman Empire (attached) - for transparency
Classroom-size world map

Suggested Books
Student Title
Sauvain, Philip. Castles and Crusaders: Do You Know? About. New York: Warwick Press, 1986.
Chapter two of the book gives information about Emperor Charlemagne.

Teacher Reference
Hirsch, E. D. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.

Procedure
Ask: What caused the fall of the Roman Empire? (Germanic tribes invaded and took over areas of the empire.) Review with the students the names of the Germanic tribes to which they have been introduced (Franks, Saxons, Vandals, Visigoths). Explain that by the 700s the area that is now considered Europe had been divided into a number of countries ruled by Christian kings from the Germanic tribes.

Tell the students that the greatest king during this time was Charles, King of the Franks. Explain that King Charles was also known as Charles the Great and Charlemagne (pronounced SHAR le main). Write all three names on the board. Ask: What might his being called Charles the Great tell you about his time as king? (He was well liked by his subjects. He did great things in his lifetime.)

Ask the students to recall the area originally conquered by the Franks (what is today France). Point to this area on the world map. Explain that Charlemagne was very successful in battle and by the end of his reign he controlled large areas of Europe, including what are now France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and northern Spain. Trace with your finger this area on the world map. Explain in addition to his being a great warrior who was able to unite the areas he took over, he also was a wise ruler, for which he was admired.

Tell the students that Charlemagne promoted education in schools and monasteries. Explain that it was Charlemagne who encouraged monks to study and make copies of the Bible and other classical works. Tell the students that without his having promoted the preservation of classical works, they may not have survived until today. Tell the students that education is an important issue in the present day. Have the students think about how Charlemagne might be able to promote education if he were a leader today. Ask students to give examples.

Tell the students that the pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, was also pleased with Charlemagne because he built churches in all the lands he conquered. Tell the students that because of this the pope crowned Charlemagne as the first Holy Roman Emperor to show how pleased he was. This meant that the territory over which Charlemagne ruled was called the Holy Roman Empire. Write the term on the board.

Display the transparency of the Holy Roman Empire. Have a student come up and trace the borders of the Empire. Direct the students' attention to the world map. Point out the area of the Holy Roman Empire on the world map so students get an idea of the empire's size. Ask: Was the Holy Roman Empire larger or smaller than the Roman Empire? (smaller) Because the Holy Roman Empire was smaller Charlemagne was able to rule his empire more efficiently than the Roman Empire. Explain that Charlemagne ruled by what was called a feudal system (write on the board). The feudal system was a system whereby the king owned all the land in his kingdom, which he then divided among lords, called vassals, who pledged their loyalty to him. The lords needed people to work on their land so they gave peasants (write the word on the board) strips of land to work. In return the serfs had to work without wages for the lord for part of the week and give him some of their crops. Explain to the students that the peasants had to ask their lords permission for everything -- even when they wanted to marry, the lord had to give his approval.

Tell the students that the best way to understand the feudal system is to imagine a ladder. Explain that the basic idea of a feudal system is that people serve other people. For example, people on the lower steps of the ladder serve the people who are above them on the ladder. Unlike today, in the Middle Ages your position in society (on the ladder) never changed even if you worked really hard to improve your life -- the position you were born into is where you stayed.

Draw a ladder on the board. Ask: Who would be at the top of the ladder? (the king) Write, king, on the top rung of the ladder and then each of the following on a successive rung down the ladder. Explain to the students that during the Middle Ages people who served under someone else were called vassals. The word vassal means "one who serves." For example, if a person promised loyalty to the king he became the king's vassal. Tell the students that under the king were his lords. Next, came the knight. Explain that a knight was a warrior trained to fight and protect his lord. Explain that the knight was vassal to the lord and the lord was vassal to the king. Tell the students that next were the peasants called serfs. Tell the students that the serfs were peasant farmers who did most of the work on the farm, but received very little in return. Ask: Do you think this was a fair system? Why or why not?

Additional Activity

Have the students write a paragraph on Charlemagne answering the following questions. Do you think Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great, deserved the title the great? Why or why not should Charlemagne be remembered as Charles the Great. Give the reasons why you do or do not think he should be remembered as Charles the Great.

Bibliography

Student Titles
Sauvain, Philip. Castles and Crusaders: Do You Know? About. New York: Warwick Press, 1986. (531-19015-3)

Teacher Reference
Briquebec, John. The Middle Ages: Barbarian Invasions, Empires around the World & Medieval Europe. New York: Warwick Press, 1990. (0-531-19091-9)
Corbishley, Mike. The Middle Ages: Cultural Atlas for Young People. New York: Facts on File, 1989. (0-8160-1973-8)
Hirsch, E. D. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992. (0-385-31260-1)
Langley, Andrew. Medieval Life. New York: Knopf, 1996. (0-679-98077-6)
Ross, Stewart. Spotlight on Medieval Europe. East Sussex, England: Wayland, 1986. (0-85078-666-5)