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A great deal of information needs to be taught surrounding the era of the colonial American. From 1587 when the first permanent North American European settlement was founded by the Spaniards in St. Augustine, Florida, to the Revolutionary War in 1775–1783, there is quite a bit of ground to cover.
These Colonial America lesson plans will focus on the original 13 colonies. Students will be placed in 13 groups that represent colonial America: Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
This cooperative group lesson could work for upper elementary students or middle school students. High school students can complete these lessons as well, but teachers should, of course, expect more in-depth research.
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Grouping Students by Colonies
For small groups, it is best if there are four to six students in each colonial group. If you teach middle school and have six classes of 25 students each, you could have two groups for each of the 13 colonies spread out amongst your classes.
If you teach elementary students and only have one class of 30 students, you may not be able to have all of the colonies covered. Students could select the colonies they want to learn about most. Or, you can have each group research two colonies.
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Colony Project Requirements
Once students are placed in groups, they need to complete the following tasks of making a map and a poster. In order to do the tasks, students will need to research the colony by using their textbooks, reference books, the Internet, etc.
1. Make a poster size map of the colony and label the name of the colony. The following information should be creatively placed on the map:
- Label the colony as a New England Colony, Middle Colony or Southern Colony
- Pinpoint the larger settlements on the map.
- Write when it was settled
- Identify the beliefs or religion of the settlers
- Show the origin of settlers: Spain, France, Sweden, Holland, or England
- Identify the economy: fishing or farming (be specific about type of farming)
2. Make an informational poster about the colony that will compliment the poster. The following information will need to be included:
- What was the daily life like?
- What kind of clothing did they wear?
- What kind of homes did they build?
- How was the local government run?
- What did they do for entertainment?
Students need to make sure cite their sources and to include a works cited, reference section or bibliography to show where they found their information.
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Present Colony to Class
Students should work together to research, to make the map and to complete the poster. After the map and poster are complete, students will need to present their work. It is best if the teacher allows students to post their work on a wall in the classroom.
Each person in the group should help present the information. It is best if the students use note cards and decide who is presenting what information.
The colonial America lesson plans will allow students to work together to become experts on one colony. The students will learn about all thirteen colonies through the group presentations. This jigsaw strategy is a creative way for students to learn about the original 13 colonies.
- Early colonial era: beginnings to 1770. (1998). Retrieved from The History Place.
- The thirteen colonies. (n.d.). Retrieved from Cave Spring Schools, Roanoke, Virginia.
- The 13 American colonies. (n.d.). Retrieved from Social Studies For Kids.
- 13 originals: founding the American colonies. (2006). Retrieved from The Time Page.