When I began the daunting task of preparing a deep and complete unit on Colonial America to use centering around Felicity, I didn't know how lacking my own education had been. I know a lot of my education of Colonial America focused on the Pilgrims and what would become the thirteen revolutionary British Colonies, and I'd bet I'm not alone. However, because the focus had been on Plymouth, Jamestown and then the Revolutionary War Period in my own education, I found I had some gigantic holes in my understanding of what Colonial America really was. With Alice, I endeavored to cover this (quite long) portion of US history more fully which has meant forgoing Felicity for the time being and covering the earlier colonization as its own unit first, then covering the Seven Years War, and finishing with the Revolutionary War Years. Here was my justification for making that decision and what we did as "Pre-Felicity America" or The Early Colonies.
Colonial America - A long period in history and a variety of colonies:
Colonial America existed as long as the US has at this point. Jamestown was founded in 1607, but attempts had already been made even prior to Jamestown. The Roanoke Settlement (established in 1585) may not have survived but it remains a part of the history that had influence on, and resonated with other settlers that followed as well as the population that already lived there at the time.
Additionally, there was more cultural variety than we usually care to acknowledge. Northern sites along the St. Lawrence river (that eventually would lead to the formation of Quebec) were already being explored by the French as early as 1535 and New Orleans along with many other French Settlements were established along the Mississippi River throughout the early and mid 1600's (about the same time New England was being formed - Plymouth was founded in 1620). St Augustine Florida was originally founded as a Spanish colony in 1565 and Santa Fe (the first of many Spanish Missions in what is now the Southwest) was founded in 1610. Even the Russians got involved with their colonization in Alaska (though admittedly many years later).
With the revolutionary war not even declared until 1776, covering life in Colonial America with your kids spans at least 150 years but it could be argued it spans closer to (over) 200 years depending on how you decide where that history starts. Colonial America may also usually refer to the original 13 colonies (that were British). However, to give your kids an accurate idea of the influences in the building of this country, at least mentioning that France and Spain had colonies here too becomes a critical clarification for later events in US History. Lastly, we cannot forget the colony of New Amsterdam (1609), now one of the biggest cities in the world (New York) and the fact that its foundation was mostly Dutch.
Key Objectives for the Units:
- Compare and Contrast Life in an Early British Colony, to life in the British Colonies just before the Revolution.
- Compare and Contrast the attitudes of different Sovereigns toward their colonial citizens
- Compare attitudes toward slavery, and the native population between French, Spanish and British colonies.
Specifically during the first Colonial Unit, The Student Will:
- Be able to relate details about the founding of Jamestown and Plymouth colonies.
- Understand that the settlers had an inaccurate impression of the number of villages and people that had lived on North America prior to their arrival because illness brought by explorers had decimated the native population and reduced it astonishingly before the arrival of permanent settlers.
- Review how various tribes reacted to, and interacted with the three colonizing major powers and their settlers.
- Name key leaders in the foundations of colonies such as Captain Smith, and Chief Powhatan, Tisquantum (also known as Squanto), Walter Raleigh, (and more) and identify a little about what they are each known for.
- Describe the life of an early colonialist in New England, Jamestown, New Orleans and Santa Fe.
- List the various reasons colonists left their homelands to come to the Americas.
- Identify Key Locations on a Map of the Area.
- Create a Timeline depicting important events.
During the Mini Unit on The Seven Years War the Student Will:
- Describe causes and outcomes of the French/Indian War and how it affected life in the British Colonies, as well as why the American Indians joined in the battle.
- Describe a little bit about the daily life of a Frontiersman during this time period.
- Identify Key locations on a Map of the area.
- Add events of the Seven Years War to the already established Timeline from the prior Unit. Events should at least include and The First Treaty of Paris.
During the Revolutionary Colonial Unit, The Student Will:
- Describe what King George did for the colonies and why he felt it fair for them to pay taxes.
- Describe why the colonists felt taxation was unfair.
- Describe a day in the life of a colonialist in the north as well as one in the south.
- Compare and Contrast differing attitudes toward slavery and toward the American Indian population that existed within the colonies.
- Identify Key Locations on a Map of the Area.
- Add events of the Seven Years War to the already established Timeline from the prior Unit.
- Identify important leaders and courageous people in the political and real fight for independence such as King George William Frederik, Thomas Jefferson, John and Abigail Adams, Joseph Brant, Benjamin Franklin, Phillis Wheatley, Benjamin Banneker, George Washington, the Marquis De Lafayette, General Howe, and so on. . .
- Describe key events, their causes and outcomes such as the The Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, The Siege of Boston, Meetings of the Continental Congress, Various Battles, Signing of the Declaration of Independence, The Second Treaty of Paris . . .
Pinch of Everything Activities and LessonsWatch for these lesson plans and activity instructions in the coming months as I post descriptions and instructions about what we do and where to find further resources.
Online ResourcesHistory World - The French Colonies in North America A brief description of French Exploration and Settlement in North America.
The Virtual Museum of New France offers a view of what life in a Northern French Colony would have been like and has pages relating to exploration into the interior of the United States (they made it all the way to the Rockies before Lewis and Clark did, also in search of a water passage across the continent.
21 California Missions While there were also missions outside of California, this site provides information about life in a Spanish Mission, as well as Life for the population that already lived nearby at the time of the missions.
The National Park Service offers Quite a bit of text information about the Dutch Colony at New York as well as Revolutionary War sites in the area.
Virtual Jamestown Interactive Maps, Panoramic Views, and a host of things to check out. This would be a good site for an online scavenger hunt with your kids.
PBS Colonial House was something Alice, her dad and I all really enjoyed watching together. The project set up a location where modern people had to live as thought they were settlers to the New England colonies back in the 1600's religious concerns, sexism, racism, illness, food and exhaustion are all a part of the discussion in the months they spend trying to live as the pilgrims did. The heading link takes you to the PBS home page about the series, but if you click on the teachers link you will also find lesson plans and activities related to learning more about the time period. Although it is possible to watch on You Tube, navigating all the parts and episodes correctly and completely can be difficult. We were able to order the whole series to be sent to us through Netflix, or you can purchase the series through PBS.
Office of the Historian The French/Indian War/Seven Years War, its causes and how it would lead to the discontent and Revolutionary War is summed up in this article. Good back-ground knowledge for the educator.
PBS The War that Made America The PBS series about the French and Indian War really does a good job of presenting the French, British and American Indian involvement, reasons for being involved, atrocities, mistakes and victories. It is intended for an older audience and includes graphic visuals. Watch on You Tube
Interactives is a History Map of the United States. You can see which countries had colonies where, or set a map showing where different American Indian Tribes were originally located. Among other things. If you click through the colonists maps, you get a pretty good idea of how much land each country originally claimed to hold and how relatively small the British Colonies were in comparison to the space settled by the French and Spanish. Then, finish it off by taking the interactive quiz including the lightning round!
The American Revolutionary War - This site offers a timeline of events and battles, pages addressing causes and the role of slavery in the British Colonies and the war and offers all of this alongside images of paintings depicting events and people of the time. This is a good one for the instructor to go over before hand and choose a few screen shots to highlight, or set up a research scavenger hunt, if you are working with elementary kids so it doesn't become overwhelming.
The American Revolution - comprehensive in regard to the revolution, it has links to resources, lists of battles, important people and documents. It even has a list of helpful videos to watch. Intended for high school and adults, it was a good resource for me to go through in preparation for Alice's lessons.
Liberty's Kids Not only is this cartoon series exciting and educational on its own, but there is a host of related materials for parents and teachers too. You could introduce your kids to the Revolutionary Period in United States History with this website and cartoon series alone. For Cartoon Viewing Click Here