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ActiveHistory provides entertaining, educational award-winning interactive simulations, decision-making games, self-marking quizzes, high-quality worksheets and detailed lesson plans for teachers and students.
View the top 75 activities here.
"What's the Topic?" - Introductory PowerPoint
This series of images is designed to get students thinking about what the next topic might be. Complete with explanatory teacher notes.
Starter Video: Overview of the Black Death
This online video clip [2m] provides a great flavour of the topic to get students interested!
Spread of the Black Death
Students use this animated map to draw
their own conclusions about where the disease started and spread to, and which areas were most affected.
Video Clips: Arrival of the Black Death in  Italy and  France
These two video clips provide extra detail about the spread of disease across Europe.
Extension Activity: Graphing Task
This task requires students to use this animated map to measure the rise and fall of the pandemic over several years and make deductions about the way in which it rose and fell. There is also an Excel graph that can be used by the teacher as an illustration at the end of the exercise.
Video Clip: Arrival of the Black Death in England
Symptoms of the Black Death [plus teacher answer sheet]
"Imagine a local tradesman has arrived in your village and has fallen ill: you realise with horror that he has brought the Black Death into your village!
(a) Number these symptoms from  (the first) to  (the last).
(b) Your teacher will tell you the answers to record in the “Correct Answer” column.
(c) Then, work out the difference between the two numbers in each row. Add up the total. The lower your score, the better you did!"
Video Clip: Symptoms of the Black Death
Causes of the Black Death [plus primary sources]
"Your teacher will be in role as the local magistrate who has called an emergency meeting to discuss the arrival of the Black Death in our village.
The magistrate will read out an account from one of his contacts about what they think has caused the Black Death. Decide where to include the information in Column  of the table below. The other slips might be handed out one at a time to different teams. In this case, the ‘reader’ in each team should read the account to the rest of the team and then lead a discussion about where to include it in the table, and what quote to use. Halfway through the sources, the magistrate will pause the teams and ask them to suggest some cures".
Video Clip: Medieval Medicine
Cures and Precautions [plus teacher answer sheet]
"Historians think that almost half the population of Europe died in the Black Death.
The lowest scoring 50% of the class in this exercise will become ‘casualties’. The teacher will count upwards and you should sit down on the floor when your score is reached. The half of the class left standing are the ‘survivors’.
Main Task: What will be your survival rating?
Listed here are many ways in which people tried to stop the Black Death.
We now know that infected fleas on rats spread the Black Death.
The disease could be spread between people by physical contact.
Put a cross in the correct column for each cure listed here.
You will get a ‘survival point’ for each one you get correct."
This worksheet also makes use of the following video clips: Fires | Jews | Excrement | Flagellants
Video Clip: Immediate impact and reactions in Italy
The Black Death Cardgame!
The objective of each player is to get as many cards for their 'role suit' as possible.
Peasants: should focus on collecting food (clubs) in order to establish a stable food supply.
Merchants: should focus on collecting money (diamonds).
Nobles: should focus on collecting prestige (spades).
In addition to clubs, diamonds and spades, students need to know that:
Hearts: represent the happiness and well-being derived from meeting with and talking with others. All players benefit from holding hearts.
The Joker: represents fleas infected with the Black Death.
Video Clip: Immediate impact and reactions in England
Video Clip: Consequences
Hexagons Activity: Consequences of the Black Death
This activity is approached through a 'Hexagons' approach which is outlined in detail here. Students cut up the hexagons and organise them in logical groups, with adjacent sides of hexagons indicating connections that are then explained around the diagram. The hexagons were created using the ClassTools.net Hexagons Generator.
Primary Sources: Consequences of the Black Death
"The English chronicler Henry Knighton wrote about the effects of the Black Death in England in 1348-50 as follows. Your task is to read through each slip and underline any key details. You might choose to use green to indicate positive results, and red to indicate negative ones. Next, cut each slip out and decide where to place it in your hexagon diagram from the previous activity. Make sure you explain why you have placed it in that spot with a few words. Finally, use your completed diagram to write a final Diary Entry outlining the impact of the Black Death".
Video extract for further detail: Consequences of the Black Death (18m)
KeyWord Challenge: Black Death [Interactive]
If you are unfamiliar with the format of the game, click here for instructions.
"In this unit, which starts with a whole-class miming competition, you will design your own board game about the Black Death.
Your game should try to show the spread, symptoms, cures and consequences of the Black Death.
You will play each other’s games and vote on the best ones.
Commendations and merits will be awarded for students who produce particularly creative, educational and effective board games"
This task also makes use of the Causes | Symptoms | Cures cards, and the peer-assessment marksheet.
This structured marksheet guides students towards providing a detailed written project marked out of 50.
Video Extract: "King Death" complete with structured note-taking worksheet
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Events (150 years ago today): 1870 – Franco-Prussian War: The Battle of Spicheren is fought, resulting in a Prussian victory.
Births (100 years ago today): 1920 – Selma Diamond, Canadian-American actress and screenwriter (d. 1985)
Births (50 years ago today): 1970 – M. Night Shyamalan, Indian-American director, producer, and screenwriter
Deaths (100 years ago today): 1920 – Stefan Bastyr, Polish pilot and author (b. 1890)
Deaths (50 years ago today): 1970 – Nikos Tsiforos, Greek director and screenwriter (b. 1912)
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