Ancient Mesopotamia


Our Ancient Mesopotamia lesson plan teaches students about Mesopotamia with an overview of their civilization, the people who lived there, and its lasting impact on the world. Students learn related vocabulary and learn facts about Ancient Mesopotamia.

The “Options for Lesson” section of this lesson lists some optional additions and adjustments. For this lesson plan, these options include having students create a timeline of Ancient Mesopotamia or having students complete research on an assigned civilization using the Internet for research. You can also have students research the Code of Hammurabi!

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What our Ancient Mesopotamia lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Ancient Mesopotamia teaches students all about Ancient Mesopotamia, including its origins and lasting legacy. At the end of this lesson, students will be able to discuss the unique aspects of this civilization and its impact on future societies. Students learn about religion, class, government, and more. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The only supplies students will need for this lesson are the handouts. You can prepare for this lesson by copying all of the handouts ahead of time and pairing students for the activity.

Options for Lessons

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. For the Ancient Mesopotamia lesson plan, these options include allowing students to work alone for the activity, having students create a timeline of Ancient Mesopotamia, or having students complete research on an assigned civilization using the Internet for research. You can also have students create a poster related to Ancient Mesopotamia or use the Internet to do some additional research on the Code of Hammurabi.

Teachers Notes

The teacher notes page includes some additional guidelines and helpful things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. It states that there is a lot of additional information about Ancient Mesopotamia that can be found online and that utilizing those resources can help extend the lesson, if that’s something you’re interested in doing. This page also provides space for any notes you may want to write as you’re planning the lesson.


The First Civilization

This lesson includes five content pages. The first section of this lesson explains what ancient civilizations are and how they’re different from the modern civilizations that you and your students live in. Students will learn that ancient civilizations were stable communities that were first settled thousands of years ago, and that Ancient Mesopotamia was the first civilization in the whole world! It is often referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization” because of this.

The word “Mesopotamia” means “the land between two rivers.” Historians named Mesopotamia accordingly because it was the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. It was the first place where people created large cities and formed governments. Ancient Mesopotamia was located in what is now the country of Iraq, with some parts of it in modern-day Iran, Turkey, and Syria. It continually grew over time, becoming a large group of towns and cities, with more advanced inventions and growth.

The Discovery of Farming & the Sumerians

This section of the lesson describes how the people living thousands of years ago used to be hunters and gatherers, meaning they relied on their surroundings for food. Students will learn that people began to discover farming around 8,000 BC. This was a huge discovery for these people because it meant that they did not have to rely on hunting and gathering to survive and could settle in one place instead of being nomadic. They also began to domesticate plants, turning them into farm crops.

Because of the discovery of farming, people started settling down and, eventually, formed towns and cities. As these cities grew, more and more people started living there and these small cities became the civilization of Sumer, which included many city-states with their own city governments! Students will be interested to learn that each of the city-states had their own ruler. They will also learn that these are the people credited with inventing government!

Other People and Civilizations & Inventions and Developments

The next section of this lesson discusses some of the other people and civilizations that were a part of Ancient Mesopotamia. These included Akkad, Babylon, Persia, and Assyria. Students will learn that each of these city-states grew into their own empires and fought with each other, coming into power when King Hammurabi created an empire out of Sumer and Akkad. Students will then learn about the Code of Hammurabi, the 282 laws that ruled Babylon. Many more details about Persia and the other city-states can be found in the lesson material.

The final section of this lesson delves into some of the many inventions and developments from this time and place. Some of these inventions include the wheel; the number system; writing, which began as pictograms and later developed into a new type of writing called cuneiform; irrigation, a way to water farmland without rain; astronomy; medicines like creams and pills; glasswork; an economic system  that used tokens to record trade and accounts; potter’s wheels; bronze tools; looms, which were used to weave cloth from wool; maps; and Archimedes’ Screw, a simple machine that was used for lifting water to higher levels.

Key Terms

Here is a list of some vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:

  • Archimedes’ screw: types of screw used for lifting water to high levels
  • City-states: large cities and the area surrounding them
  • Cuneiform: symbols that represented sounds like the modern alphabet
  • Domesticate: taking a plant or animal from the wild and using it
  • Hunter-gatherers: people who killed animals & picked plants for food
  • Irrigation: water from flooded rivers saved in canals or pools for later use
  • Monotheism: the belief in one god
  • Nomads: people who would not settle in one single place
  • Pictograms: form of writing that used pictures and symbols
  • Polytheism: the belief in more than one god
  • Scribes: the only people of Sumer who could read and write
  • Social classes: groups with similar backgrounds, wealth, and ways of living
  • Sumer: the first civilization
  • Ziggurat: a large temple dedicated to a Sumerian city’s primary god


The Ancient Mesopotamia lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. These worksheets help students demonstrate their grasp of the material they learned from the lesson in different ways. The classroom procedure guide outlines when to hand out these worksheets to your students.


Students will work with a partner to complete this activity. They will first discuss the inventions from this time period that are listed on the worksheet, such as wheels and Archimedes’ Screw. Next, they will develop an alternative for each of these inventions or developments, recording their ideas on the worksheet. Finally, they will share their alternative inventions and ideas with the class. Students can also complete this activity alone if you’d prefer.


For the practice worksheets, students will complete two matching exercises. The first section of the practice worksheet asks students to match sets of people, places, or things with their description. The second section has them match terms related to Ancient Mesopotamia with their definitions. These terms include “Cuneiform” and “Monotheism”.


The homework assignment for this lesson asks students to answer questions about Ancient Mesopotamia, like “Explain the difference between a modern and ancient civilization” and “What was the major religion found in ancient Persia?”. These questions are intended to test the student’s understanding of the lesson material and are based on the information provided in the content pages.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The final pages of this lesson include the answer keys to the practice worksheet and homework assignment. There is no answer key provided for the activity worksheet because each group’s answers will vary. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.


Take a look at these other lesson plans that relate to ancient civilizations:

  • Ancient Greece: This lesson describes the history of Ancient Greece and its impact on future civilizations. Students will learn about the Olympics, Greek mythology, and more! This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.
  • Ancient Egypt: Students will learn all about Ancient Egypt, including the pyramids, hieroglyphics, and about the daily life of the Ancient Egyptian people. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.
  • Ancient Rome: With this lesson, students will learn about the history of Rome, including an overview of the civilization and the people who lived there. This lesson is also for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies, Video

State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.5, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.4.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.W.5.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.2, LB.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.10

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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Ancient Mesopotamia

I used the video first and then the article. As both were very similar, it provided the students with a good understanding of the material and was great for my lower readers as they could gain the information from the video.

Jennifer B.

Ancient Mesopotamia

The packet provided the detail, vocabulary and adequate amount of work to allow my students the ability to understand the information and better comprehend what Mesopotamia was. This was their first account of the content area. Thank you!

joleen E.

Great resource

Haven't used it yet but look forward to using it with my Gr8 socials.

Marvel V.


5/5 free and easy to follow both for teachers and students

Leslie H.

Ancient Mesopotamia

I used the article and wished there was one more option that was shorter for my lower level learners. Thanks.