Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Race to Dominate the Known World

Daniel Markarian


Students will be able to describe the cause/effect relationship of a European country's need for resources, exploration, colonization, and settlement of different regions of the world beginning in the 14th century.


The student understands the relationships between resources and the exploration, colonization, and settlement of different regions of the world.


-World History Text 10th grade
-Pull-down map of the world circa 1700 ce.
-A current physical pull-down map of the world
-A list of the needs and wants of European countries after 1400
-Blank standard copy paper (at least one sheet per student)
-Pretest (see associated file)


1. Pre-read chapter on European Exploration.
2. Select five students the day before the lesson, so that they can familiarize themselves with the lesson.
3. Locate required maps and review them.


1. Take pre-post test on European exploration after 1400 Ce.

2. In ten minutes, using the blank paper, have students draw the seven continents with as much detail as possible, including cities, countries, bodies of water, and any other physical features.

3. At the end of ten minutes, have students hold up their maps to illustrate their knowledge of their own known world. (Collect and keep this. It would be an excellent pre/ post test of geographical knowledge to be replicated again near the end of the school year to demonstrate achievement.)

4. Examine map of the development of the known world.

5. Use the pull-down world map and the text world map to identify the current size and location of Spain, France, Portugal, Netherlands, and England.

6. Probe for knowledge: Ask the following question: What did these European countries want? (Answers will vary but may include gold, land, trade colonies, raw materials)

7. Students will peruse the text (15 minutes) to identify cause/ effect factors influencing European exploration beginning in the 1400ís.

8. Re-ask the probing question to show what information the students have gained.

9. Hook activity: Have each of five students (pre-selected and prompted on the lessonís purpose and material) represent one of the aforementioned countries. Based on their individual countryís need, volunteer students will list on the board three possessions that they want from other students in the class. (Example: The representative of France may want something fuzzy or furry in the room to represent the fur trade that the French developed. The representative of Spain may want wealth, so they would desire the jewelry of specific students. The representative of England may want cotton for its textile mills, so they would request cotton clothing products. It's all symbolism, so let their imaginations go wild, maybe even a slave or two!!)

10. After reviewing the list, have student volunteers ask owners of desired items, what, if any, trade they would be willing to take for them. Ask students the following question: What if trade is not an option? What were long term influences on the native cultures?

11. For students' notes, list on the board at least two economic or social reasons for each country to extend beyond its border. (Example: France expanding its presence in North America to limit Englandís expansion and develop a fur trade, and Spain conquered groups like the Aztecs to exploit their gold and silver mines and developed missions in Florida to protect its trade routes.)
12. Examine textbook map illustrating the different European countries' possessions in North America.

13 Take the post test.

14. Review the answers to the post test.


1. List and identify the five major colonizing countries of Europe.
2. List two cause/effects for each colonizing European countryís expansion.
3. Use the maps that the students drew to help identify where the European countries are.
4. Score above 80% correct on the post test.


Students may also make a puzzle or game from information, make a poster, develop a role playing skit, or create a PowerPoint presentation.

Web Links

Web supplement for The Race to Dominate the Known World

Attached Files

A pretest and answer key.     File Extension: pdf

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