Life in Early America Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan is a tool for helping students learn about how the early Americans lived. Students will watch a video and answer questions that will enable them to compare lifestyles of the people in different colonies.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson on life in early America, students will be able to:

  • Cite evidence when answering questions about a video.
  • Compare and contrast the lifestyles of people of the northern, southern, and middle colonies.
  • Describe some significant events in British American history.


90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.


  • cash crops
  • commerce
  • covenant
  • exterminate
  • homesteads
  • hysteria
  • indentured servants
  • innovation
  • kinship
  • militia
  • persecution
  • plantation
  • Puritan
  • urbanization
  • yeoman


  • Copies of quiz
  • Copies of the lessons
  • Index cards
  • Pens
  • Individual white boards
  • Erasers
  • Dry-erase markers
  • Paper

Video & Discussion Questions

  • Preview vocabulary words.
  • Watch The 13 Colonies: Life in Early America and discuss the following questions:
    • Describe what happened to America's colonial population from the late 1600s to the mid-1700s.
    • What are some reasons why the colonies were so isolated from one another?
    • Describe the economy of the northern colonies.
    • Describe the community life in northern colonies.
    • What rights did women have in the northern colonies?
    • What happened during King Philip's War?
    • What influence did the Puritan church have over northern citizens?
    • What were the Salem Witch Trials?
    • Describe the demographics of the southern colonies.
    • What was the dream of immigrants who moved to the South?
    • Describe life on a plantation.
    • How did life expectancy influence business?
    • What rights did women in the South have?
    • How was farming in the middle colonies different from farming in the South?
    • Why was New York so strongly connected to the rest of the world?
    • What are some innovative ideas that originated in the middle colonies?
    • How did John Peter Zenger lead the way to America's free press?
  • Pass out the printable worksheet. Have students complete the questions independently, then check the answers together.


Northern, Middle, or Southern Colonies: Group Activity

Materials: Copies of lesson, index cards, pens, individual white boards, erasers, dry-erase markers

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