It is hard for us to imagine the bravery and determination of the early colonists who built a new life in a new land and fought for freedom on top of that! Use a puzzle, some role-playing and story telling to help your students understand the beginnings of the United States of America.
Objectives: SS01-S01-C03-03 Recognize that the United States began as the Thirteen Colonies ruled by England.
- United States puzzle with the majority of states as specific puzzle pieces (As an alternative use a map of the United States and cut the states out into single pieces.)
- Kings crown
- King’s speeches written on paper and numbered:
- “You will be taxed on sugar! You will need to buy a tax stamp on books, newspapers and many other things.”
- “You will allow the British soldiers to live in your homes!”
- “You will pay taxes on glass, lead, paint, paper and tea!”
- “We want more money!”
- World globe or map
Ask students to sit in a big circle on the floor. Pass out all of the puzzle pieces to your students, except for one student chosen for having a loud reading voice. Instruct the lone student to sit in a place far from the circle and place the crown on his/her head. Then place the base of the puzzle (if there is one) in the center of the circle.
Say: “ Over 230 years ago there was no United States of America. People came from across the Atlantic Ocean to stay in this new land. (Show students the globe and point out Great Britain, the Atlantic Ocean and the United States.) They formed colonies.
Next call up the children who have puzzle pieces of the 13 colonies individually and place them in the puzzle: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts (included Maine at the time).
Say: “There were no other colonies in the beginning. The king sent some of his men to be governors of each colony. They had most of the power and tried to tell the people what to do. (Point to the king) Then the king said, “You will be taxed on sugar! You will need to buy a tax stamp to put on books, newspapers and many other things.
Say: “Taxes meant the colonists had to give Great Britain money. Things continued to get bad for the colonists.” (Point to the King) “You will allow the British soldiers to live in your homes!”
Say: “When the king started asking for more things,(Point to the King) “You will pay taxes on glass, lead, paint, paper and tea!” the people in the colonies started working together against the king. Leaders from the colonies got together. They talked and argued about what to do. They finally decided to declare independence or freedom from Britain and they formed a new nation called The United States of America.
Say: “Great Britain was not happy with this because they made money from the colonists.(Point to the King) “We want more money!” Soon a war began called the Revolutionary War. The colonists fought against the British soldiers. George Washington was a famous leader in the Army and helped to win the war.”
Say, “Even after they won the war the people in the United States of America struggled and were confused about what to do. They finally had a big meeting and made some rules for everyone to follow. The rules were called The Constitution. Gradually more states joined the United States.”
Take turns completing the puzzle. You can complete the puzzle in order when the states became part of the United States by using this link: https://americanhistory.about.com/od/states/a/state_admission.htm
Test students on their knowledge by having them take complete a worksheet. Download the worksheet here.
- Micklos, John,Jr. From Thirteen Colonies to One Nation. Enslow Elementary Publishers, 2008.