Western Reserve Public Media

Lesson Plan: The Crusades


In keeping with the theme of understanding the transition from one type of society to the next as described in the state standards, this lesson shows how the holy wars between Christianity and Islam during the Middle Ages helped bring about the changes that began the Renaissance. The students will accomplish the following:

  • Read and discuss the specifics of the Crusades

  • Learn that many simple children’s rhymes were once political statements

  • Write their own children’s rhymes that explain some of the specific happenings and people of the Crusades

  • Decide upon changes in medieval society directly related to the Crusades


Standards Addressed
Grade 7
Social Studies — History, Benchmark C

03. Describe the conditions that gave rise to feudalism, as well as political, economic and social characteristics of feudalism, in Asia and Europe.

04. Explain the lasting effects of military conquests during the Middle Ages including Muslim conquests, the Crusades and the Mongol invasions.


Poster board



  1. As a class, read and discuss the enclosed worksheet Introduction to the Crusades.

  2. Either as a class or in assigned groups, have the students read through each short Crusade description. Extra time and resources should be available for students to look up more specific information as needed. Students can find related photos and video clips at www.WesternReservePublicMedia.org/middleages/resources.htm.

  3. Using the enclosed material, teach how nursery rhymes have historical origins and were used as a safe means of political commentary.

  4. Assign specific crusades to each group or individual. Explain that they will write nursery rhymes with themes and characters that allude to stories about the historical people of the Crusades.

  5. Have students display their rhymes on poster board while they discuss their topic.

  6. As a class, review and discuss the effects of all the travel from the western part of Christendom to the east and then back again.

  7. Have the class complete an evaluation for each group or individual.


Rubric for the Crusades

The rhyme must allude to changes brought about by the Crusades. Four items are listed and are historically correct. They are also clear enough to interpret. Three items are listed, are historically correct and are clear enough to interpret. Only two items are listed, historically correct and are clear enough to interpret. Only one item is listed, is historically correct and is clear enough to interpret. The rhyme doesn’t make itself clear about any changes brought about by the Crusades.
The work needs to have rhythm, rhyme and child-appealing characters. The rhythm, rhyme and characters work well to help make it memorable and fun. The rhythm, rhyme and characters are all present. One of the three is missing or doesn’t work well in the writing. Two of the three are missing or don’t work well in the writing. There is no evidence of the writer trying to make this a nursery rhyme.
The presentation of the work needs to show effort and pride. Work is very neat with good sentences, good grammar and good spelling. Work is neat and has no more than one writing or spelling error. Work is readable but has two writing or spelling errors. Work is readable but has more than two writing or spelling errors. Work is difficult to read due to errors and/or presentation.



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