Prehistory and Early Humans

A Complete Unit Plan for World History in Middle School or High School

The World History curriculum begins with a brief unit on Prehistory and the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras. It covers early humans, their fascinating cave paintings, and settlements through to the first true civilizations.

This is a wonderful unit for your middle school or high school World History students as a way to enrich their knowledge of how human communities first developed. 

You can get this entire unit in one easy download here or, sign up for a subscription and gain access to everything online.


The unit begins with a fun Classroom Artifacts activity to help students learn how archaeologists and historians learn about the past. Next, a PowerPoint with guided notes (or video lesson) takes you through the development of Early Humans, including Homo Habilis, Australopithecus, Cro-Magnon man, and Neanderthals.

Students analyze these further through either printable hands-on interactive notebook pages or digital notebook activities.

The next two lessons take a deeper look at cave paintings and what we have learned from them as well exemplary readings on the Ice Age, Stone Age, and the excavation of Çatalhöyük, one of the earliest known human settlements.

Following this, students compare and contrast the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras to learn about the differences and advancements in technology. Another fantastic PowerPoint with guided notes and video version introduces students to the two major eras and features awesome images for students to learn from.

Engaging interactive notebook activities and videos on both eras and the Agricultural Revolution are included here to reinforce the main concepts for your students.

Finally, students examine the characteristics that make up a civilization through several interactive activities and a fantastic visual analysis. Students use what they learned to reflect on a modern city and the five characteristics it possesses. 

Throughout all the lessons, you can also use a variety of digital interactive notebook activities or a thorough unit guide packet so you have no shortage of resources to use each day. Excellent short online videos are linked linked along with readings from the online textbook.

The unit concludes with review games including Kahoot, Quizzizz, and Gimkit before moving on to an editable unit test - with an editable Google Forms version also included for easy grading!

These lessons give students the perfect foundation of knowledge to build upon as the World History curriculum progresses.

Again, you can download everything for this unit here in one handy zip folder that can be saved to your desktop. Or, you can sign up for a Students of History subscription and gain access to the entire unit’s lessons and resources online. A subscription also gets you immediate access to the ENTIRE World History curriculum. That’s 24 complete units like this one full of awesome lessons and resources. 

If you’re not sure which option is better for you, you can read more about the differences between subscriptions and TpT purchases here

Thanks so much for checking it out

World History Units