One of the most challenging things for home schooled families is finding lesson material that is cost efficient and fun. Today I’m sharing my lesson plan on one of my favorite subjects: history. I was home schooled myself as a result of health issues from the eighth grade on. Most of what you will find here in this lesson plan is either material my mother and I developed for my education or teaching plans I have since developed for my own children. Come along with me to the classroom as we develop an efficient plan to teach your children all about colonial America.
An overview of our teaching goals
To begin, let’s sum up the goals and scope of this lesson plan.
-Learn about the history of the 13 colonies
-Highlight influential colonists
-Discover what daily life was like for a colonial American
13 Original colonies
To begin teaching on the subject of colonial America we need to discuss the original 13 colonies. This is a great time to dust off the encyclopedia and let the kids do a quick bit of research. Another option is to develop a quick fact sheet yourself and go over it together. Regardless of who does the legwork be sure they hit the key points such as:
-when the colony was founded
-what the chief agriculture/commerce of the colony was
-what the primary city in each colony was
-try to find one interesting fact about each colony
You may decide to break the overview into segments with a few colonies being covered at a time, or you may just highlight all 13 colonies briefly.
Highlight influential colonists
Now that the students know a little about the colonies, it’s time to meet the colonists themselves. Putting names to faces can be a great visual tool, so try to find portraits of as many as possible.
This portion of our lesson plan will have you making decisions on how to proceed with the biographies of the movers and shakers of the day. You can either choose one of the following tips and move on, or you can take a little more time and follow each suggestion.
One of my personal favorite activities that I did when being home schooled was something we called a Creative Campaign. The premise was simple, choose a historical figure that the students will focus on. Their task is to learn as much about this person as possible, but they will not be writing a mere report or essay about them. Instead their job is to compile their facts into a mock election campaign, and present it as if they were lobbying for votes for the candidate.
Another idea for learning about the men and women of the day is to highlight a famous person from each colony and have the students write up a quick biography of them. To add interest, you could present it to the students as if they are playing the role of a spy, and they are to establish an intelligence profile of their colonial figures. If you take this route, have the kids present the biography in a format similar to this:
-Last Known Location
You can of course just assign the student a colonial person of interest and ask them to compile an essay. In the end however you proceed is up to you.
Learn more about daily life in the colonies
This can easily be the most fun segment for your children. The goal here is to take a look at what life was like in colonial America. While there are several ways we can approach this goal, if at all possible try to get the kids hands on. Many communities have a colonial fair throughout the year, and there are also several national historical villages and towns that look at life in the colonial days. The student will benefit greatly from seeing and experiencing history hands on. The potentials are limitless as to how to expose the daily life in the colonies. Whether or not you are able to visit a colonial recreation, focus on getting the kids hands on here.
Discover what the colonists ate. You could research a colonial recipe and make it together. Or you could have the students research what local wildlife was prominent in a specific colony. Look for images of cooking utensils online and compare them to what we use in our own kitchens.
Many colonial craft and art projects are available online, you could find one to do with your children. Research what types of toys and games were played in the colonies, and try to recreate one for your family to enjoy together. Or discuss with the kids how they spend their free time today, and discover how colonial children relaxed.
You could have the student compare and contrast occupations of the day with their current counterpart. Perhaps you could research the farming tools of colonial times, then visit a farm with the information and ask the farmer how having to use those tools would change the way he raised his crops. See if there are any blacksmithing or glassblowing demonstrations near where you live and visit one.
One final idea is to assign the kids to assemble a mock newspaper with “current events”, advertisements for colonial businesses, and anything else relevant to the time or location of the newspaper. This can be especially good if you plan on continuing the theme of colonial times with a study of the French and Indian War.
Closing thoughts and resources
That is the conclusion of this lesson plan. I hope you and your children enjoy the activities and have fun learning about colonial America and what life was like before we were a nation. I wanted to include a few resources that may help you find more information, and you will find them below. Thanks again for looking at this lesson plan.