Turn and talk to your neighbor about one time when you were really sick. Allow students time to talk, then have 2-4 students share their stories aloud.
Explain to the students that in the late Middle Ages there was an illness called a "plague" that made many people sick and even caused their death. It was called The Black Death and today they will be learning about The Black Death and its impact on family life, church life, and the economics of the time. Have students partner up and pass out The Black Death Assignment Sheet (attachments, one copy per pair of students). Tell students to answer the questions on the sheet as they watch/listen to the video. Show the PBS/Gross Science video "What is the Black Plague and Should You Be Worried?"
After the video, discuss the answers together as a group. Then pass out a copy of the excerpt from Sarah Himes' diary (one page for each pair of students). Read the diary page together as a class and discuss important details. Point out details mentioned about changes within the family and church in the letter.
Play the video "Ring Around the Rosy" and discuss why this song originated during this time frame. Play the song again, telling students to listen carefully to the lyrics and their meaning.
Tell students it is their turn to compose a song about The Black Death. They will choose one of the ways (family life, church life, economics) The Black Death impacted the Middle Ages and compose a rap song with their partner to perform in front of the class. Students may use a tablet/computer for additional research if needed.