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The Columbian Exchange

The Columbian Exchange—the transfer of plants, animals, diseases, and ideas set in motion by European voyages across the Atlantic—marked a dramatic change in global history. Exploring this critical turning point will help students understand both the immediate and gradual consequences of the first truly global network.

In this three-day Columbian Exchange lesson plan, students will learn how new routes of exchange and the interconnection of previously isolated continents changed the world forever.

Kick off a lesson on the Columbian Exchange with this short video!

Columbian Exchange Three-Day Lesson Plan

Teaching this lesson will take approximately 50-150 minutes (one to three 50-min class periods) and will address the following objectives:

Skills objective
  • Use the historical thinking practice of sourcing to evaluate differing perspectives of European and Indigenous American interactions.
Content objective
  • Assess the impact of the Columbian Exchange on communities, networks, and the environment in Afro-Eurasia and the Americas.
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Take a closer look

Supporting materials or full lesson? We’ve got you covered.

Take a deep dive into our free, middle- and high school-level Columbian Exchange materials. Check out the articles, videos, and activities to support an existing lesson, or use our three-day Columbian Exchange lesson plan to explore the global consequences of this momentous event.

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