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The Reformation

Main Core Tie

Social Studies - 6th Grade
Standard 3 Objective 2

Time Frame

2 class periods of 45 minutes each

Group Size

Small Groups


Hailey Maloney


The Religious Reformation in Europe allowed for the spread of new ideas in both science and religion.


Background for Teachers

Before the Reformation, there was one unified Christian church in Europe, the Catholic Church. Many priests in the church were disenchanted with the church, including John Wickliffe, John Hus, and William Tynedale.

1) Martin Luther is generally accepted as the father of the reformation. He was a priest from Germany who was unhappy with some of the practices of the Catholic Church, particularly their sale of indulgences. He nailed a list of 95 items to the door of a Cathedral, listing the problems he had with the church. He eventually formed his own church, the Lutheran Church.

2) John Calvin was also a significant reformer. His ideas were adopted by the Puritans, who were the Pilgrims who first settled the New England area in America.

3) Ignatius Loyola was a counter reformer who tried to improve the Catholic church from within. He formed the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and improved many of the practices of the Catholic Church.

4) Henry VIII- also formed a new religion, the Anglican Church. Henry wanted to divorce his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, because she had been unable to give him a son. The Catholic Church would not grant him the desired divorce, so he broke from the Catholic Church, established his own church, and made himself the head of that church. He was the first to authorize the legal printing of the first English Bible.

Student Prior Knowledge

Students should understand that there are many different Christian and non-Christian religions, and the Reformation was the source of many Christian denominations and opened the way for the formation of other denominations at a later date.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand that the Religious Reformation led to many different state religions in Europe. The governments of each European country taxed the people on behalf of these religions. These taxes led to the freedom of religion that our founding fathers valued in the creation of the Constitution.

Instructional Procedures

Students will brainstorm those religions with which they are familiar. The teacher will write these religions on the board and supplement with additional ideas. From that list, discuss which religions had their origins in the Protestant Reformation.

Essential Question
How and Why Do Beliefs Change?
Students will form groups and brainstorm ideas that would make the cafeteria a better place to eat lunch. After groups form their lists, a class list will be made and placed on the cafeteria door (if appropriate).

Discuss Reformers
Separate students into 4 mixed-ability groups: groups 1, 2, 3, and 4. Give each group copies of the text for one of the following Reformation leaders. (See materials above).

  1. Martin Luther (picture of Martin Luther)
  2. John Calvin (picture of John Calvin)
  3. Ignatius Loyola (picture of Loyola)
  4. Henry VIII (picture of Henry VIII)

After students have all had time to read and discuss their Reformer, mix up the groups so that there is a member of each original group (1, 2, 3, and 4) in the new groups. Each student takes a turn to talk about the Reformer they studied, and all students fill out the graphic organizer (see materials).

When all students have shared, have a whole-class discussion where students can share what they learned about the Reformers and review the answers to the graphic organizer.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

Challenge: If you prefer, you may have students access the encyclopedia articles on their own to research the Reformer they have been assigned. (You need to log on to Utah's Online Library first).

World Book Articles:

Assessment Plan



World Book Encyclopedia Online

Created: 06/25/2009
Updated: 02/04/2018