Bubonic Plague

Week 16: The Bubonic Plague (The Black Death)

Read K – 5: Read the following articles from the internet:

View 6 – 8: These YouTube videos from the History Channel.  They are very well done, but have some disturbing images.  You may want to view them first before showing them to your children.


  • What creatures carried and spread the disease all over Europe? (bacteria in fleas travelling on rats)
  • How did the rats travel along the trade routes? (by merchant ships)
  • What were the symptoms of the plague? (fever, black ugly swellings in armpits and tops of the legs)
  • What happened to most people who got the disease? (they died)
  • How did it affect Europe? (over 1/3 of the population died: over 20 million people)
  • Were people able to bury their dead? (no; so many people died so quickly, bodies were burned; people left sick to die because of fear they would catch it themselves.)
  • What did people believe was the cause of the disease? (punishment of God)
  • Do people usually die from the disease today? (No, we have vaccines to prevent it and medicine to cure it.)
    Questions for grades 6 – 8:
  • How many days did people live after they caught the disease? (2 – 5 days)
  • How did conditions in Medieval towns encourage the spread of rats? (people rarely took baths, threw trash out their windows, did not keep their towns clean)
  • How did the Pope avoid getting the plague? (surrounded himself with fire)
  • Who were the flagellants? (people who injured themselves in the name of God to atone for mankind’s sin and appease God.)
  • What group of people did many Europeans blame for the disease? (the Jews)

Activities:  K – 3: “Ring Around the Rosy” is a nursery rhyme that actually is about the Black Death. “Ring Around the Rosy” refers to the red/black sores located on the victims. “A Pocket Full of Posies” refers to how people would hold flowers (posies) to their noses because the smell of death was so prevalent. “Ashes, Ashes” refers to the cremation of all the bodies. “We All Fall Down” means “we all die”. (For more on this topic, Google “Ring Around the Rosy, Black Plague.) Fold a piece of paper in half; then fold it again. In each of the four sections draw a picture concerning the four parts of this nursery rhyme.
4 – 8:   Complete ONE of the following writing activities:

  1. Pretend you are a newspaper reporter living during the Middle Ages. Write an article about the Black Plague. OR
  2. Pretend you are a sailor on a Medieval ship. Your best friend, another sailor, has just come down with the Black Plague. Write a story about your 3 day voyage to the next port. OR
  3. Look up one or more of the following Bible passages.  (See below.)  Compare and contrast these plagues with the Bubonic plague.

* 2 Kings 18: 28 – 19:19 & 19:32 – 19:37  (Powerful passage!)

* 2 Samuel Chapter 24

* Exodus 9:8 – 12

Copyright October 3rd, 2014 by Gwen Fredette


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Filed under Charlotte Mason, Dark & Middle Ages

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