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13 Colonies Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Use this Study.com lesson to teach your students about the 13 colonies. This lesson plan will help to teach students about life in the shoes of a colonist, the colonial economic system and how Enlightenment played a role in the colonies.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe life in the 13 colonies
  • explain the colonial economy and mercantilism
  • analyze the influence of European Enlightenment on the colonies

Length:

  • 1 hour. The optional extension activity can take up to an additional hour.

Key Vocabulary

  • Mercantilism
  • Enlightenment

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.4

Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

Instructions

Introduce the Concept of Colonialism

  • Begin by having students imagine there is a space mission to a new planet and that your class has been chosen to go.
  • Use storytelling to mimic the colonists' experience. For instance, you might say, 'You leave your home planet, travel across the galaxy, and start a new life in a place that is still in the early stages of development. The friends you once had back home no longer think of you as part of their society.'
  • After depicting this imagery of galactic colonialism, ask the class the following questions and discuss the answers together:
    • What would it be like to travel to this new place?
    • How would we be able to survive?
    • What are some challenges? Some benefits?
    • What types of systems would we need to create to be successful?
  • Connect this imaginary experience with those of the American colonists.

Watch the Video

  • Begin watching the video lesson The 13 Colonies: Life, Economy & External Influences.
  • Pause at 1:55. Ask and discuss:
    • What was the original intention for the economic system and structure of the 13 colonies?
    • How were the Southern and Northern colonies alike and different?
    • What importance did land ownership have to colonists?
    • What role did freedom play to the lives of the colonists?
  • Play the remainder of the video. Ask and discuss:
    • How did mercantilism impact the colonists' way of life?
    • What impact did enlightenment have on the colonists and the future of the United States?
  • Have students write an imaginary narrative of a day in the life of a colonist.

Extension

Activity

  • Divide students into three groups, one each for the Northern, Middle, and Southern colonies.
  • Show students the video The 13 Colonies: Life in Early America.
  • Have students take notes on the lives of colonists, paying special attention to their assigned region.
  • After the video, provide students with crayons and a large piece of paper, and instruct them to draw a depiction of life in their specific colony--Northern, Middle, or Southern. For instance, the Northern colonies might be filled with huge mills and small villages lining a river, whereas the Southern colonies might have a few vast plantations and many more men than women.
  • Have the groups present these depictions to the class. Discuss and analyze.

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