The Age of Enlightenment

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

The 15th unit my World History curriculum introduces students to the Age of Enlightenment. This can be a dry unit in many classes with such a focus on government and philosophy as opposed to big events. Thankfully, this unit has some creative and incredibly engaging resources that help students connect with philosophers like Locke, Voltaire, and Rousseau.

You can download the entire unit here with all the resources and lesson plans for every day or you can subscribe to Students of History and access everything you need online.


The unit starts off with an amazing "magic portrait" PowerPoint lesson that brings these Enlightenment thinkers to life in your classroom. Moving video portraits of Thomas Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Mary Wollstonecraft will captivate your students as they learn about each of their ideas, analyze quotes, and understand the impact of each. There are guided notes available along with a "flipped classroom" video version. 

Following this, students work on an interactive Enlightenment Salon Project. After reading about various figures form this era, students must recognize connections and place them all around a table so that each has connections with others on each side. This is a fantastic critical thinking resource and can also get students up and moving around the room if you use the readings as stations.

Also available here towards the start of the unit are a thorough unit guide packet, hands-on interactive notebook pages, and a complete set of digital notebook activities as well. All of these resources can be used throughout the unit or used for remediation or differentiation.

Next, students begin an Age of Reason book project to help them learn more about other aspects of this era. There are readings on writers, composers, artists, and scientists that can be used at stations, in groups, or with a digital online resource. A graphic organizer is available to help students categorize information and determine main ideas.

Students next learn about the Enlightenment in America with a PowerPoint and guided notes followed by a video clip and digital or paper interactive notebook activity and reading.

The Scientific Revolution is the subject of the next lesson. A short video clip serves as an introduction before students work on a Scientific Revolution Newscast project in small groups.

Lastly, a set of fantastic review materials is available to use before the test to end the unit. 

You can download the Absolutism & Enlightenment units bundled together here and have all these resources saved on your desktop. You can also sign up for a World History subscription to access everything online. Subscriptions grant you immediate access to the ENTIRE World History curriculum. That’s 24 complete units full of engaging resources and lessons. 

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

Thanks so much for checking it out!

World History Units