The Printing Press


The lesson introduces students to the invention of the printing press and its inventor, Johann (or Johannes) Gutenberg.  It is often known as one of the most important and revolutionary inventions in history, and without it, printed books, magazines, and newspapers would not have been possible.  With new technology, computers, smartphones, etc., the students may be unaware of how important the printing press was to society upon its invention and development.  The lesson may be used in conjunction with lessons related to inventions and technology.

The Printing Press Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about the The Printing Press
  • 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 revolutionary invention the printing press and its inventor Johann Gutenberg. The lesson describes the importance of the printing press. It also presents a brief history of writing and copying before the printing press, starting with cuneiform and discussing papyrus, hieroglyphics, parchment and manuscripts. A brief biography of Gutenberg is included, which mentions the Gutenberg Bible. The lesson may be used in conjunction with lessons related to inventions and technology.

Classroom Procedure:

  1. Display several items showing print such as labels, magazines, newspapers, single pages, cereal box, receipts, etc. Ask students what each of the items has in common until one of the students guess there is print.  Give hints if necessary.
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask students to identify other places print is used, which could include billboards, street signs, etc.  Ask students what life would be like without the printed word.
  3. Allow for responses and discussion. Introduce The Printing Press to the class.
  4. Distribute The Printing Press content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  5. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Pair students.  Distribute supplies.  The students will create a rough draft of the printing press design and the steps involved.  Later, the final copy of the design and steps will be transferred onto construction or other paper.
  6. Once completed, the students will share their designs with another pair of students or with the entire class. Conduct a class discussion related to the feasibility of each design, and the possibility their printing press could have been built in the 1400s.
  7. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
  8. istribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.
  9. In closing, ask students: If you had to choose only one book that should ever be printed, meaning no other books would exist, what book or kind of book would you choose and why?
  10. Allow for responses and discussion. Remind students that no other books would be printed and you may also add that the Internet would not exist.

Common Core State Standards: 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.3

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

Additional Resources: 

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Additional information

Grade Level

4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies