Social Studies

Teaching World History: Early American Civilizations—Activities and Resources

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This blog is part of a Shaped monthly series providing teachers for Grades 6–12 with downloadable world history classroom resources and discussion topics.

Advanced cities. Specialized workers. Record keeping.

These are among the characteristics that most scholars agree civilizations have in common. To teach your students about the rise of civilizations throughout history, have them imagine they are archeologists on a mission to learn about those who existed far before their time.

Early American Civilizations Lesson Plan

For context, have your students look at the timeline below (with a supplemental enrichment activity available for download as a PDF) showing events occurring from 30,000 BC to AD 1500. Then, distribute the accompanying resources: a letter to King Charles V of Spain (primary source enrichment activity) and a related writing enrichment activity.


When we think about how far human civilization has come, it's important to understand how it began and how it transformed over thousands of years. We hope the resources above will help you successfully teach students about early American civilizations and why they matter, even today.


Learn more about HMH Social Studies, which presents the rich, endlessly inventive story of our world, challenging students to dig deep into the past.

Read more blogs about teaching world history on topics including:

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