Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 4-12, students use BrainPOP resources to learn about the 13th century merchant Marco Polo and his adventurous journey along the Silk Road and deep into Asia. After exploring Marco Polo’s story, students will take on the role of Marco Polo and  write a diary entry from his travels.



Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Brainstorm what they know about Marco Polo and the Silk Road on a KWL chart.
  2. Watch a movie about the Silk Road and Marco Polo.
  3. Use Make-a-Map to take notes about Marco Polo’s adventures.
  4. Use notes to write a diary entry in the voice of Marco Polo.
  5. Use Make-a-Movie to animate the diary entry.






Lesson Procedure:

  1. Tell students that today they will watch two movies -- one about the Silk Road, the ancient trading routes connecting East Asia to the Mediterranean; the other about the 13th century Italian explorer, Marco Polo, and his adventures traveling along the Silk Road.
  2. Ask students what they know about the Silk Road and Marco Polo. Mark their ideas in the K column of the KWL chart. Then ask what they’d want to know about these two topics and mark their responses in the W column.
  3. Remind students that Marco Polo’s adventures took him along the Silk Road. Explain that despite it’s name, it wasn’t a single road, but a network of ancient trading routes. For background, show the movie Silk Road. After, return to the KWL chart and ask what they learned about the Silk Road. Add their responses to the L column.
  4. Now show the movie Marco Polo to the whole class.
  5. Next, have students open Make-a-Map from the Marco Polo topic page. Instruct them to choose the spider map template or make their own. If students are not using individual computers, distribute the Web Graphic Organizer to complete offline.
  6. Now invite students to watch the movie again. As they do, have them identify events from Marco Polo’s journey -- as described in his book “The Travels of Marco Polo”-- including things he saw, people he met, things he did (e.g., battling bandits, encountering mythic beasts, etc). Use his descriptions, even if they are exaggerations or made-up tales. Remind students that they can put images and video clips into their maps.
  7. Once they’ve completed their maps, have students write a diary entry or more than one if time allows, as if they are Marco Polo on his journey. Instruct them to use their notes from the map to write their entries.
  8. For classes with My BrainPOP accounts, invite students to use the Make-a-Movie tool to narrate and illustrate their diary entries.
  9. Have students share their diary entries -- either written or movie -- to the class.
  10. Finally, have the class review the KWL chart. Ask them what they’ve learned about Marco Polo that they didn’t know before. Write their responses in the L column.

Extension Activities:

Divide the class into small groups. Assign different Related Readings to each member of a group. Have students read their Related Reading and share what they learned with their group.