Lesson Plan

Marco Polo Takes A Trip

"Embarking for Home," from Marco Polo: His Travels and Adventures, published in 1880. 
Photo caption

"Embarking for Home," from Marco Polo: His Travels and Adventures, published in 1880. 

During the Middle Ages, most people in Europe spent their entire lives in the village where they were born. But in the 13th century, a young Italian named Marco Polo traveled all the way to China! He spent 17 years as a member of the court of Mongol emperor Kublai Khan. After he returned to Italy, he recorded his experiences in a book, sparking a surge in interest in the Far East among Europeans that led to a great age of exploration.

In this lesson, students will learn about the remarkable travels of Marco Polo. They will consult maps to locate Venice and follow the routes Marco took to Beijing and back. They will learn about the challenges of traveling along the Silk Road, discover some interesting facts about China under Mongol rule, and find out how Marco came to produce his famous book. Then they will work in groups to create a large mural/timeline of the life and adventures of this famous traveler.

Guiding Questions

Who was Marco Polo?

How did Marco Polo's travels change the economics and cultures of the places he visited?

What did Marco Polo's book do for future explorers and traders?

Learning Objectives

Examine the motives for Marco Polo's travels from Venice to China. 

Analyze maps to determine the reasons for the routes navigated by Marco Polo to China and back. 

Evaluate the short and long term significance of the Silk Road. 

Analyze the circumstances by which Polo's book was written and evaluate the influence the book had upon the European public.