Pretending and imagination are a key to relating to and enjoying history. Once you’ve learned about the American colonies, simulate what it would be like to live in the colonial era, and encourage your students to pretend to be a colonial era child.
Later Colonies and Simulating a Colony
Lesson objective(s): Settlers began new colonies in America hoping for economic prosperity in trade or farming. Other colonists fled to new lands searching for religious freedom. (Copywork sentence: Roger Williams started a colony in Providence so people had religious freedom. AND/OR In 1647, Peter Stuyvesant cleaned up New York City.)
Later colonies were settled for similar reasons to the first three mentioned yesterday. They were either for exploration/settlement (like Roanoke), financial/economic reasons (like Jamestown), or religious freedom (like Plymouth).
- Search for Religious Freedom (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland)
- Settlement for Economic Prosperity (Virginia, North/South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, and New Hampshire)
- Settlement for Need for Space/Exploration (Georgia)
Some of the stories of the founding of these colonies are inspiring. I especially love the stories about people fleeing to find religious freedom. It reminds me how this country was built on a foundation and belief in God.
The story about Peter Stuyvesant was also amusing. My kids liked thinking about the dirty city and how he cleaned it up. Depending on what subjects most interested you, adapt the copywork sentence(s) to meet your needs!
- Finding Providence by Avi
- Anne Hutchinson’s Way by Janine Atkins
- The Story of William Penn by Aliki
- On the Day Peter Stuyvesant Sailed into Town by Arnold Lobel
- While a Tree Grew by Elaine Rice Bachmann
- The New Americans by Betsey Maestro*
- Old Silverleg Takes Over by Quackenbush*
If you are looking for a full-on “Can you survive?” colony simulation, which would take a few hours of class time (to simulate the passing years), check out this option that I’ve found: Settlers of America Game. Also, try this site for another online simulation: Welcome to Colonial America.
Living During the Colonial Era
One book I liked for showing what life may have been like during the colonial era was the chapter book The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dagliesh. In this book, eight-year-old Sarah is nervous and afraid to be moving farther into the country to build a new home. She is afraid of animals and also the Native Americans near by. As the book progresses, she learns that the natives are not scary and she learns to adjust to her new and strange life.
Other books about living in the colonial era and the difficulties involved include the following:
- Tomahawks and Trombones by Barbara Mitchell
- Homespun Sarah by Verla Kay
- Hornbooks and Inkwells by Verla Kay
- Our Colonial Year by Cheryl Harness
Again, I have not included all the books I could find. These are simply the most interesting, historical, and living books that most appealed to us.
Hands-On Pretending to be a Colonial Kid
- Make a quill and ink. My preschooler even enjoyed painting with a “quill” (aka a feather!) in a simpler version of this!
- Make butter from cream.
- Make a handkerchief doll.
- Have a tea party.
- Make a haversack.
- Make tin can lanterns.
- Play a game to catch a ball in a cup.
- Learn how to weave.
- Play the Made for Trade history game.
- Learn to play marbles.
- Make a whirlygig toy.
- Play the Nine Holes board game
- Play quoits, which is a ring toss game, roll a hoop, or play hopscotch.
Also, you can play online games on the Colonial Williamsburg site!
Benjamin Franklin Lessons
I cannot move on to the French and Indian War and the impending Revolution without including a mini-lesson on Benjamin Franklin. Here are some details if you too want to focus on one of my favorite characters from history!
Lesson Objective: Benjamin Franklin was a creative genius who studied science, philosophy, and many more subjects. The things he contributed to his society impacted the world. (Copywork sentence: Ben Franklin discovered electricity. AND/OR Ben Franklin started the first public library.)
The most memorable book I’ve ever read was Ben & Me by Robert McCloskey, which tells about Ben Franklin’s life throughout the revolution and which is told from the perspective of a mouse that hides in Ben’s hat. I’ve never forgot it and I cannot wait to read it with my son this school year!
Another memorable book, this time a picture book, is Now and Ben by Gene Barretta, which demonstrates how Ben Franklin’s way of thinking made him famous and how his legacy lives on even today. Check out these books and activities as well.
- Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares by Frank Murphy plus a math preschool lesson to go along with it
- Benjamin Franklin by Ingri D’Aulaire
- Ben Franklin’s Big Splash by Barb Rosenstock
- Ben Franklin and his First Kite by Stephen Krensky
- How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning by Rosalyn Schanzer plus make a genius light
- Electric Ben by Robert Byrd
- Make an almanac like Ben Franklin
- Make a pretend library in your home
- See more Ben Franklin lesson ideas at Teach Beside Me, Homegrown Learners, and Contented at Home