Marco Polo


The lesson introduces students to the famous explorer, Marco Polo.  Many students may only be familiar with the swimming pool game of the same name, but most likely do not know the person behind the name.  The lesson discusses the significance of Polo’s travels and includes information about the Silk Road.  The lesson may be used in conjunction with other lessons related to famous explorers and China.

Marco Polo Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Marco Polo
  • Hands-on homework activities
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 4-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The lesson introduces students to the famous explorer, Marco Polo. An introduction to exploration, including the typical reasons for exploring, opens the lesson. Then, Marco Polo’s travels and their importance to history are discussed, including a map of Polo’s journey. Information about the Silk Road is also contained within the lesson. The lesson can be used in conjunction with other lessons related to exploration or China.

Classroom Procedure:

  1. Ask students: What do you think are the reasons most people travel to new places in the world?
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask students to compare the reasons for travel today to the reasons for travel in the past.  What is the same and different?
  3. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask students to name some famous explorers.  (If students do not guess Marco Polo, give them some hints.)
  4. Display a list of the explorers. Ask students to name the explorer who traveled through China.  Allow for responses and introduce Marco Polo.
  5. Distribute Marco Polo content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing and a discussion.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  6. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Pair students.  Encourage students to work cooperatively, sharing the ideas for the trip.  Allow students access to the Internet to discover information about unknown places in the U.S.  The information may be written using diary-like entries or in a chart. (Teacher may require one or the other.)
  7. Once completed the students will meet with other students and share their Marco Polo-like Journeys. They may also share the journeys with the class.
  8. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.  Students should correct the false statements.
  9. Distribute the Homework page. Review the instructions.  Tell students some of the questions’ answers may not have a right or wrong answer, but they should effectively support their responses.  The next day, review the students’ responses.
  10. In closing, ask students: Name a place in the world where you would like to travel for the first time and tell why.

Common Core State Standards: 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, 5, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3, 7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, 5

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3, 7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6.4, 10

Class Sessions (45 minutes): at least 2 class sessions

Additional Resources:

Many more teaching resources in Download!

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Additional information

Grade Level

4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies