The following consists of TWO SAMPLE LESSON PLANS, taken directly from Step 4 courses, in this case, Step 4 History 2, and Step 4 Science 1.    Step 4 is for students ages 11-adult, who read well.  Each lesson plan should take the student ROUGHLY an hour and a half to do.  It's okay if it takes shorter or longer, even up to about two hours per lesson plan.   If the student has a real struggle with these, we recommend considering Step 2 or 3 studies.  We ask that the tutor/parent/teacher please participate in lesson plans, as requested.

A Lesson Plan from Step 4, History 2 - Early Civilizations

Find a map of ancient Sumer. (Run a search on the Internet - map of ancient Sumer (or Mesopotamia) On that map, locate the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Sumer and Mesopotamia (North of Sumer between the two rivers).

LOCATE: these same rivers on a map, globe or the Internet.                                                

These rivers on a modern map, locate these rivers. 

In what modern country are they presently found?    

2. LOCATE: Uruk, the first city.        

3. LOCATE: On a map, globe or the Internet:

Asia Minor (A peninsula of western Asia between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.)



Specialist- A person who is very good at a certain skill or set of skills.  The mastering of a certain skill or job is called specialization.

Culture- The overall knowledge, art, beliefs and practices of a civilization.

Geographical – Of or having to do with places or areas on Earth.

Handle- To deal with something fully and control it to the desired result.

Urban- Of or having to do with cities and city life.

Economic- Of or having to do with money and business.

Social- Of or having to do with how people interact and deal with each other.

Political- Of or having to do with the way a nation is governed.

Agriculture-The science, art and business of cultivating soil, growing crops, and raising livestock such as cows and sheep.

Architecture- The art and science of designing and constructing buildings.

The Fertile Crescent- The area in the world where civilization started, in and around the Middle East.

Irrigation- The transporting of water to dry fields, to grow crops.

Delta- A triangle-shaped land area at the mouth of a river.

Potential- Possibility.

Canals- Long rows dug into the Earth, which allow water to flow from a river or sea, to somewhere.

Timber- Wood, or trees.

Potter- A maker of pots.

Potter’s Wheel- A round platform that spins.  Soft clay is placed on it and shaped by the potter as it turns.

Plow – A tool used to dig a row into the Earth, in which are planted seeds.

5. READ:


Before discussing the first civilization, let’s look at a more basic question – what is a civilization?  As you will be studying civilization through all your history studies from this point on, it would be very important to have a good answer to this question.

Even historians do not agree on what makes a civilization.  There are simple definitions which look something like this: “A civilization is a place where, for a certain amount of time, many people live and work together under a government of some sort, in order to better survive as individuals and as a group.” 

While this may describe many civilizations, it could also describe tribal life which is usually considered pre-civilization.  Tribes last a certain amount of time and live in a certain area.  They have a “government” of sorts, and they work together to survive.

Many historians have defined civilization.  What the best definitions seem to share is a description of seven important traits a civilization almost always has.  These have a lot to do with specialization. 

When people live alone, they need to do everything for themselves.  They have to get food somehow, create a shelter and clothes, and do whatever is needed to survive.  This is true of a civilization as well, but not in the same way.

In a civilization, you don’t actually grow your own food, unless growing food is your specialty.  You don’t build your house unless that is your specialty.  (And that would include a lot of specialties, such as plumbing and electrical, etc.)  Usually, you hire other people to do many of these things for you because they specialize – they’re better at doing these things than you are, having done them a long time.  You will probably develop a specialty, a saleable skill or product that others will hire you for.  Through specialization, each of us can become very skilled at a certain job or set of jobs and use these in “trade” with other people and for their specialties.  This becomes true largely because of the fact of urban (city) life.  Such specialization (such as leaders, soldiers, artists, craftsmen, merchants, laborers, you name it) is a part of civilization and its existence in a place helps tell us that we’re looking at a civilization.

The best definitions of civilization include the following seven types of, and results of specialization.  Together, these seven qualities provide a “culture”, the overall knowledge and way of life of a civilization.  A civilization is a civilization because;

-It’s capable of supporting a large number of specialists to handle the economic needs of a large number of people.  This would include the supplying of agricultural needs, housing, etc.

-It’s capable of supporting a large number of specialists to handle the social needs of a large number of people.

-It’s capable of supporting a large number of specialists to handle the political needs of a large number of people.

-It’s capable of supporting a large number of specialists to handle the religious needs of a large number of people.

-It uses a system of writing, and specialists who know how to read and write, to keep records.

-Its specialists design and build large buildings.  This is the science and art of Architecture.

-It has specialists who create art that tells us about the people who lived in that civilization and the way they lived their lives.

As you study history, look at each place and time and see if it has each of these seven results of specialization.  If so, you are probably studying a civilization.

THE FIRST CIVILIZATION, as far as we know, grew about 6,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent between two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates.  Today, we call this ancient civilization by its Greek name, Mesopotamia, which in Greek means “between the rivers”.  In an area of Mesopotamia called “Sumer” or “Babylonia”, the seven qualities of civilization first appear together in history.  This civilization was found in the South, in the delta where the two rivers nearly meet.  The other Geographical area, to the North and between the rivers, was called Akkad.

Sumer had the potential to become a great agricultural paradise, compared to the difficult lives men lived before civilization.  Though canals had to be dug from the rivers to farmer’s fields, water was available…if people worked together.  Ways of preventing the rivers from flooding had to be developed, and needed the help of many hands.  They worked together under the first kings.  The first cities were built in Mesopotamia near rivers and fertile fields where new inventions such as the plow could be used.

The first great city we know of was Uruk.  It had great walls to protect its people, ordained by its famed King, Gilgamesh.  These walls took many thousands of people to build, and are further proof that Mesopotamia was a civilization.

All that remains of Uruk today are a few broken walls.  It is in the middle of a desert, alone and forgotten.  The river it depended on for life moved slowly away from Uruk, and its people abandoned it.

Sumer was born with the Bronze Age.  One of the key factors that helped Sumer become powerful was that it developed a technology based on bronze before neighboring tribes.  This allowed Sumer and its people to create weapons that were harder and stronger than their enemies, and tools that worked better and lasted longer than earlier tools made of stone or copper.  The use of bronze spread throughout Egypt, Europe and Asia from its birthplace, Mesopotamia.

However, Mesopotamia had no stone, metal or much timber of its own, and had to trade to get them with Asia Minor and Syria. 

The Sumerians were a creative, intelligent people.  Not only did they develop the use of bronze, but they probably built the first small boats in order to trade, and sailed them up their two great rivers.  The first wheels were used to transport people around 5500 years ago, in Sumeria, as the first potters wheels also appeared there.   And as you will study, they were the first people to write.

6.  DRAW: what “Mesopotamia” means, in English.  (Note - this is NOT an art assignment!  Blobs of color and lines are fine, stick figures are fine.  Just communicate a visual understanding of the idea, quickly.)

7. DRAW:  how the first cities began, and how they grew.   (Note - this is NOT an art assignment!  Blobs of color and lines are fine, stick figures are fine.  Just communicate a visual understanding of the idea, quickly.)


If you were starting a city in the middle of nowhere, near a river, how would you begin?  What would you need?  Who would you need, and what kind of skills would they have to have?  50 words or more.


Find something made out of copper.  Find a rock.  Look at each and feel them, for differences.  Why might copper be more desirable than rock to create tools with?  50 words or more.

A Lesson Plan from Step 3, Science 1 - Advanced Science Basics


Pure Science- Science that attempts to figure out the universe, for no other reason than to figure out the universe.

Applied Science- Science which takes the discoveries made in pure science, and turns them into useful inventions and discoveries to improve man’s daily life.

Civilization- The fact of men living and working together to support their survival as a group.

Specialize- To become expert at a certain job or skill.

Specialization- The act of becoming expert at a certain job or skill.   

Geology- The study of the materials the earth is made of, and how the Earth got to be the way it is.

Geologist- A scientist who specializes in the study of Geology.

2. READ:


Science can be broken into two very large categories.  These are “pure science” and “applied science”.  Pure science is science that attempts to figure out the universe, for no other reason than to figure out the universe.  Applied science takes the discoveries made in pure science, and turns them into useful inventions and discoveries to improve man’s daily life.  Applied science applies science to our daily needs.  An example of a science that is both pure and applied is geology, which is the study of the materials the Earth is made of.  This science has gone through several stages.  It started out as an applied science.  The locating and use of various metals like iron gave man a great advantage.  Iron tools and weapons were much better than rock tools and weapons…though, of course, the rocks used are also a part of the study of geology.  Man first started looking at his world to see what he could use.  In the beginning, all science was applied science.

But then, over a period of thousands of years, men started to understand that every rock they looked at or held was a part of our planet’s history.  Every stone, every mountain tells us something about the physical history of our planet, and how Earth got to be as it is.  “How old is rock “x”?  Is rock “x” from a volcano?  How old a volcano? If the volcano is “y” years old, then how old is the land the volcano sits on? And how old does this make our planet?”  These are a few questions geologists ask when they look at a rock.

Men didn’t even start to think of rocks this way until our race was fed, housed, and comfortable enough that the time existed in our lives for such thoughts.  When a man is trying to hunt down his lunch and find a cave to keep off the rain, the age of the rocks in the cave ceiling above do not matter to him.   One of the most important conditions, then, for the study of science to exist at all is civilization! 

Civilization- the fact of men living and working together to support their survival as a group, is a pretty new thing on Earth.  And if a civilization is going to survive, then the people in it must specialize.  This is one of the first things that has to happen before the study of science can really become a possibility.

By specialization, we mean that certain people do certain jobs for the rest of us, freeing each of us to do other things with our time, and to specialize in other things.  In a civilization, certain people raise the food- farmers.  Certain people build the houses.  Certain people do the writing, and keep the records.  And as civilization becomes strong, other specialists appear.  People who dream dreams.  Religions grow.  Art becomes a cherished part of life, and artists develop.  And people finally show up who are educated, and who have the time and interest to look around them to try to figure out why their world is what it is.  Scientists.


Go outside a find a rock.  Look it over very carefully.  Feel it, weigh it, even break it open to look at its insides, if possible.  Learn as much as you can from studying it, about this rock.  Describe what you learned.  In your description, state whether your study of the rock is pure or applied science.

Now, find something you can actually do with the rock.  Hammer in a nail, or dig a hole, something useful, and do it.  Write up what you learned can be done with the rock.  In your description, state whether your study of the rock is now pure or applied science.


Look around your house, or your “classroom”, and five ten examples of applied science that improves your life in some way.  Write these down, and describe how each one improves your life.     

5. DRAW:

(Note - this is NOT an art assignment!)  Draw a picture of a caveman, trying to hunt down food.   Surround him with dangerous animals and a deadly environment.                                                              

Then, in a second drawing, show what could happen to him in this deadly environment if he stops paying attention to it, to study a rock.                                    

Show the same man, now surrounded by a city with guards keeping the dangerous environment away.  What happens to him now when he stops to study a rock?