Stonehenge

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Our Stonehenge lesson plan teaches students about the landmark Stonehenge, including its history, its significance, and possible theories about why it was built. Students also learn related vocabulary.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to invite someone who’s been to Stonehenge to speak to your class about their experience.

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Description

What our Stonehenge lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Stonehenge introduces students to the fascinating ancient monument in England called Stonehenge. The lesson provides several interesting facts about Stonehenge, including how archaeologists believe the original structure appeared. The lesson covers the people who likely built Stonehenge, as well as the time period in which they built it. It lists a few possible explanations for why they built Stonehenge, and students can come up with their own theories on why they built Stonehenge as well. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify and describe the ancient monument called Stonehenge, explain how the monument was built, and list possible reasons for its construction. 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 orange 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 supplies you will need for this lesson are stones, rocks, heavy cardboard, large index card, glue, and the handouts.

Options for Lesson

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. An optional adjustment to this lesson is to have students use crumpled paper or pieces of cardboard instead of rocks. For an additional activity, you can assign student groups an ancient people to research and present the information to the class. You could also invite someone who’s been to Stonehenge to speak to your class about their experience. Finally, you can create a miniature Stonehenge outdoors on school property or inside of your classroom using large boxes as stones.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.

STONEHENGE LESSON PLAN CONTENT PAGES

Stonehenge

The Stonehenge lesson plan includes three content pages. The world has rocks of all different sizes and you can find them all over the world. Your neighborhood has interesting rocks for you to find. People use them for decoration in their homes, gardens, backyards, and more.

In Europe, there’s a town called Wiltshire in southwestern England, located about 90 miles from London. Here, in a place called Salisbury Plain, you can find the Stonehenge monument (usually just called Stonehenge). You can see the giant stones that make up the monument from miles in all directions. The name Stonehenge actually means “hanging stones.”

Here, the giant rocks stick up out of the ground, with more giant rocks laying on top of them. The builders laid them out in a circular pattern. Archaeologists believe the stones are between 3,000 and 5,000 years old and that someone built the monument in about 2800 BC, during the Stone Age. They may have made changes to the monument in around 1500 BC, during the Bronze Age.

It looks like some the monument is missing some of its original stones. Others have fallen down or people moved them. However, archaeologists believe that they now know what the original monument looked like when they first built it. The lesson includes a drawing of this original design.

Stonehenge Design

The exterior circle of stones at the monument measures almost 100 feet in diameter. The stones are mostly sandstone. The two standing stones feature 10-foot long curved stones resting on top of them that we call lintels. There are blocks inside the circle that form their own semi-circle with larger blocks and lintels. The inner circle has smaller stones called bluestones, also arranged in a circle.

First and Second Stages

People believe that they built the monument in three stages. First, they dug a large circular earth wall that they may have used as a burial ground. They also placed a large, 16-foot stone near the center of the first circle. They could have dug using tools made from red deer antlers and picks and shovels made from cattle shoulder blades. The Windmill Hill people, named after the earthworks on Windmill Hill near Stonehenge, completed this first stage. These people came from eastern England and understood symmetry and circles. They were one of the first known hunting and gathering groups who managed to maintain an agricultural economy.

During the second stage, the Beaker people placed the 60 large blue stones, which weighed about 4 tons each, in the circle. We believe that these people came from Spain and attempted to colonize northwest Europe. Their name comes from their burial customs, as they always buried people with beakers of drinking cups made from pottery. They were war-like and often buried their dead with weapons. They were also some of the first people to bury their dead in individual graves instead of mass burial sites.

Third Stage

During the third stage, we believe that up to 1,000 men hauled 30 sandstone rocks (called sarsen stones) weighing 50 tons each and put them in the outer circle. They used some of these stones to make five trilithon patterns, the two large vertical stones with a horizontal stone, or lintel, across the top. They also placed a stand-alone stone called a heel stone a small distance from this main structure.

We think the Wessex people might have completed the third stage. These people arrived in this area in around 1500 BC and had many advanced skills for their time. They designed and built roads, traded, and controlled trade routes in parts of England. We believe that they created a bronze dagger carving on one of the larger stones in the monument.

Workers likely used levers and ropes to raise the pillars, in addition to the tools made from animal parts. They had to move many of the stones nearly 240 miles, over water and land, to get to the site. We think that some of the largest stones came from about 19 miles away from the main site. While people today feel amazed by the design of the monument, we don’t know that much about the reasons they built the monument.

Reasons for Stonehenge

Because we don’t have any written records, internet data, or other information from this time, we can’t determine the true reason for the creation of this monument. However, some experts think that there were multiple different reasons. They could have used it as an ancient burial ground, ancient astronomers could have used it to track the changing seasons, or people could have used it for religious reasons. It could also be a combination of these reasons.

We think it’s possible that the monument brought hundreds of people for different ceremonies or celebrations, religious and not. They may have seen it as a place for healing. Other people likely used it to study the movements of the sun and moon. Ancient Britons used to think the sun and moon had power over their lives. They held special ceremonies at Stonehenge on the longest and shortest days of the year. Experts believe they also used Stonehenge for funerals and that people may have carried their dead along the River Avon nearby before processing up to the monument.

The surrounding areas have 400 other burial sites. We’ve found gold breastplates used in warfare in some of those burial grounds. The British Isles actually have over 900 different stone rings. Stonehenge is the most well-known of these stone rings.

Scientists think that you can see the changing of the seasons when standing in the center of the monument. The druids, a group of people, have practiced their religion at Stonehenge for hundreds of years.

Some people also believe that aliens created Stonehenge! Others think they built it as a giant clock or a large grave marker. Many people have many different theories about the monument.

However, we don’t know the specific reason or reasons that they constructed Stonehenge. Archaeologists agree that they must have built it for a specific reason and not as a random construction project. Stonehenge has likely served many different purposes during its existence.

STONEHENGE LESSON PLAN WORKSHEETS

The Stonehenge lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.

CREATE YOUR OWN STONEHENGE ACTIVITY WORKSHEET

Students will work in pairs to complete the activity worksheet. Each pair will create their own Stonehenge Monument of their own design. They will also create a background story for the monument by answering specific questions. Each pair will also name their monument and write a final version of the history of their monument.

MATCHING PRACTICE WORKSHEET

For the practice worksheet, students will first match terms with their definitions. They will then tell the significance of each date or number as they relate to Stonehenge.

STONEHENGE HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

The homework assignment asks students to first read statements and match them with the correct group of people responsible for Stonehenge. Next, they will answer six questions about Stonehenge.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and the homework assignment. 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.

Additional information

grade-level

4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade

subject

Social Studies

State Educational Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.4

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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01/28/2020
CACI S.
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Great

Really good homeschool material, definitely recommend Clarendon learning!