United States History to 1865

Exploration to Revolution: Pre-Columbian Times to the 1770s

USI.5

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the factors that shaped colonial America by

SUGGESTED INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES

  • Begin the unit on Colonial America by focusing on the following three essential questions: How did climate and geographic features distinguish the three regions from each other? How did people use the natural resources of their region to earn a living? How did political and social life evolve in each of the three regions?
  • Emphasize that geography played a large part in determining the type of industry and lifestyle pursued by the colonists in each region. Remind students that the motivations for settling in the "New World" varied among the colonists. The New England region was settled primarily by people pursuing religious freedom, while the Southern colonies were settled primarily by those in the hopes of economic prosperity.
  • Outline maps of the three colonial regions and the 13 thirteen colonies are available from http://www.enchantedlearning.com/usa/label/13/13.shtml or http://www.eduplace.com/ss/maps/pdf/colonies.pdf.
  • Give each student four outline maps: the original 13 colonies, the New England region, the Mid-Atlantic region, and the South region. Have students use their textbooks and a desk atlas to complete the maps according to the directions on the worksheet, Colonial Regions of America 1689-1754. For the worksheet, CLICK HERE.
  • After students have completed their maps, have them answer follow-up questions that require the use of their maps. You may choose to address these questions as an individual homework assignment, a quiz, or a group discussion. Sample questions are listed below:
    • What were three important economic activities of the New England colonies?
    • What was the largest cash crop grown in the Virginia and North Carolina colonies?
    • What was the first English colony in North America?
    • Was farmland more extensive in the Southern or New England colonies?
    • What economic activities in the New England colonies encouraged shipbuilding?
    • If you were a stock herder moving from England, in which region would you choose to settle?
    • What economic activity in the Southern colonies encouraged slavery?
    • What river served as the colonial boundary between Georgia and South Carolina?
    • Why was shipbuilding an economic activity of the New England and middle colonies but not of the Southern colonies?
    • Why was the cultivation of tobacco, rice, and indigo an economic activity of the Southern colonies but not of the New England and middle colonies?
    • If you were a carpenter moving from England, in which region would you choose to settle?
    • What city is located at the mouth of the Hudson River?
  • Use graphic organizers found at: http://www.sdcoe.net/score/actbank/torganiz.htm (Score Graphic Organizers) or http://teacherresourcecatalog.pwnet.org/docs/Reading.pdf (Reading Strategies for Content Teachers) and have the students organize the following background information on the New England region.
  • New England
  • Geography and climate
    • Appalachian Mountains, Boston harbor, hilly terrain, rocky soil, jagged coastline
    • Moderate summers, cold winters
  • Economy
    • Fishing, shipbuilding industry and naval supplies, trade and port cities
    • Skilled craftsmen, shopkeepers
  • Social life
    • Village and church as center of life
    • Religious reformers and separatists
  • Political and civic life
    • Town meetings
  • Have the students gather information for their graphic organizers from class notes, textbook, and library sources.
  • Use the following Web site for additional background information: http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/articles/ushistory/13colonies2.htm.
  • Use graphic organizers found at: http://www.sdcoe.net/score/actbank/torganiz.htm (Score Graphic Organizers) or http://teacherresourcecatalog.pwnet.org/docs/Reading.pdf (Reading Strategies for Content Teachers) and have the students organize the following background information on the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • Mid-Atlantic
  • Geography and climate
    • Appalachian Mountains, coastal lowlands (harbors and bays, wide and deep rivers), rich farmlands
    • Moderate climate
  • Economy
    • Livestock and grain, trading
    • Unskilled and skilled workers and fishermen
  • Social life
    • Villages and cities
    • Varied and diverse lifestyles
    • Diverse religions
    • Political and civic life
    • Market towns
  • Have the students gather information for their graphic organizers from class notes, textbook, and library sources.
  • Use the following Web site for additional background information: http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/articles/ushistory/13colonies2.htm
  • .
  • Use graphic organizers found at: http://www.sdcoe.net/score/actbank/torganiz.htm (Score Graphic Organizers) or http://teacherresourcecatalog.pwnet.org/docs/Reading.pdf (Reading Strategies for Content Teachers) and have the students organize the following background information on the South region.
  • South
  • Geography and climate
    • Appalachian Mountains, Piedmont, Atlantic Coastal Plain, good harbors, rivers
    • Humid climate
  • Economy
    • Large farms/plantations, cash crops, wood products, small farms
    • Slavery
  • Social life
    • Plantations (slavery), mansions, indentured servants, few cities, few schools
    • Church of England
  • Political and civic life
    • Counties
  • Introduce Gabriel Prosser. Provide the following background information. On 30 August 1800, a tremendous storm dropped heavy rain on central Virginia, swelling creeks and turning Richmond's dirt streets into quagmires.  The storm aborted one of the most extensive slave plots in American history, a conspiracy known to hundreds of slaves throughout central Virginia.  A charismatic blacksmith named Gabriel, who was owned by Thomas Prosser, of Henrico County, planned to enter Richmond with force, capture the Capitol and the Virginia State Armory, and hold Governor James Monroe hostage to bargain for freedom for Virginia's slaves.  The intensity of the storm delayed the conspirators' planned gathering, and a few nervous slaves told their masters of the plot.  The arrests of the conspirators, including Gabriel, led to trials in Richmond, Petersburg, Norfolk, and several surrounding counties. See the Library of Virginia Web site for additional information http://www.lva.virginia.gov/exhibits/deathliberty/gabriel/index.htm.
  • Explain that Gabriel's Conspiracy had an immediate impact on American politics and Virginia law and society.  The planned rebellion was widely reported in American newspapers, and, during the 1800 presidential campaign, the Federalists cited the event as a consequence of the Democratic-Republicans' support of the French Revolution and ultra democratic ideals.
  • Discuss that reactions to these events contributed to the growing debate about slavery and its role in American society. White Virginia authors used both Gabriel's proposed and Nat Turner's successful rebellions as background events in novels such as The Old Dominion, Judith, and Their Shadows Before to perpetuate their belief that slavery was ultimately benign, that slaves were loyal, and that literacy, uncontrolled religion, and outside influences all threatened the stability of Virginia society. In contrast, black Virginians immortalized the story of Gabriel in song and tale, occasionally blending Gabriel with other revolutionaries, such as Denmark Vesey of South Carolina and Nat Turner, and black writers such as Martin Delany (Blake, 1858) and Arna Bontemps (Black Thunder, 1936) used the stories of these slave revolutionaries to emphasize themes of struggle and liberation.
  • Have the students gather information for their graphic organizers from class notes, textbook, and library sources.
  • Use the following Web site for additional background information: http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/articles/ushistory/13colonies2.htm.
  • As a review, have the students work individually or in groups of three or four using information from their textbook, class notes, and other resources to develop a promotional brochure to entice new settlers to the colonies. Remind students that the realities of life in the colonies were often very different from those back in the "mother country" of England. Show students an example of a contemporary brochure as a guideline.
  • Allow students to consult the following Internet sites for additional information:
  • Instruct students to include the following:
    • Illustrations
    • Color
    • Descriptions of features of the region, including the landscape, the major industry, the religious background, and lifestyle
    • Remind students that their brochure must depict their region in a favorable light that encourages settlement in the area.

WEB SITES

http://chnm.gmu.edu/fairfaxtah/index.html
Lessons by teachers from Fairfax County Public Schools participating in the Teaching American History Grant program

http://www.history.org/
Information about the colonial capital

http://www.besthistorysites.net/USHistory_Colonial_print.html
Collection on sites on colonial American history

Contact Us  |  About this Site  |  Credits  |  Privacy Statement  |  Terms of Use


Copyright 2014 Prince William Network/Virginia Department of Education