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Big Era One: Landscape Unit 1.2

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Human Ancestors in Africa and Beyond
7,000,000 - 200,000 Years Ago

Why This Unit?

This unit sets the stage for the beginnings of the human story. It is during the period from about 7,000,000 to 200,000 years ago that Homo sapiens, that is, the anatomically modern human species, emerged in Africa among multiple evolutionary lines of primates. It is during this period that humans acquired distinctive features, notably large brains relative to body mass, relatively small teeth and chewing muscles, and the ability to walk upright, make tools, and adapt to contrasting environments. The biological underpinnings of other human characteristics also evolved, especially the capacity for complex problem solving, symbolic thought, and language, though none of these traits actually appeared in Big Era One, as far as we know.

 

Unit Objectives

Upon completing this unit, students will be able to:

1. Construct a chronology showing significant developments in the evolution of hominid species and assess the significance of these developments.

2. Compare ways in which the main ancestral groups related to Homo sapiens were similar to and different from one another. Also, compare humankind to its closest relatives among existing primates.

3. Describe evidence from which scientists have gained knowledge about hominids, their evolution, and their ways of life. Also, recognize the tentativeness and changing character of this knowledge.

Time and Materials

The lesson in this unit can be taught in one to three 45-minute class periods. Time taken will depend on attention to introductory activities and discussion questions, assignment of homework, and use of assessments.

No special materials are needed other than copies of the Student Handouts.

 

Table of Contents

Why This Unit?

2

Unit Objectives

2

Time and Materials

2

Author

2

The Historical Context

2

This Unit in the Big Era Timeline

6

Lesson: Will the First Humans Please Stand Up?

7

This Unit and the Three Essential Questions

15

This Unit and the Seven Key Themes

15

This Unit and the Standards in Historical Thinking

15

Resources

16

Correlations to National and State Standards and to Textbooks

17

Conceptual Link to Other Teaching Units

18

Complete Teaching Unit in PDF Format

 

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