In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about the original thirteen colonies of the United States. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Thirteen Colonies topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching About the Thirteen Colonies
Life of a Colonist
Have students pick a colony and create a project that describes what life was like there in the 1700s. For example, a student who chooses Massachusetts may create a poster or write a skit about life as a New England merchant shipping goods from Great Britain. A student who chooses Pennsylvania might write several diary entries about working in a factory to produce textiles. Encourage students to be creative and help them research on the Internet or at the library to get information. Then have students share their projects with the whole class or have an event and invite parents and family friends. You may want to choose a special day for the event, such as Constitution Day, which is the day that marks the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787.
Taxation Without Representation
Have students create goods to sell to the class. They can make drawings, create pins, or bring in small healthy snacks for sale. Then pass out play money or pennies to students and have them use the money to purchase goods. However, levy a tax on each item purchased and have buyers put the tax in a small cup. Then act as the King of Great Britain or select a student to act as the king and take everyone’s tax money. The king can also make different demands, such as levying higher taxes on the snacks. How can the king’s taxes be stopped? Why do you think the colonists did not like paying taxes to the British government? Discuss with the whole class.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching About the Thirteen Colonies
144 Days at Sea
The crew members of the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and theDiscovery landed in the Chesapeake Bay and eventually founded the Jamestown colony in 1606. The crew spent 144 days traveling from London to the area that is now Virginia. The journey was rough and some did not survive the trip. Have your child imagine what it might be like to travel for 144 days at sea. What do you think the crew members took with them on their journey? Have your child create a list of items that he or she might need for the journey. Would your child want to explore and settle a new world? Why or why not? Discuss with your child.
Remind your child that slavery existed all over the Thirteen Colonies and few people supported the rights of African slaves. In 1688, four Quakers in Pennsylvania drafted a petition and spoke out against slavery. They let their views be known at a town meeting, though they were ignored. Have your child write a speech from the point of view of one of the four Quakers in Pennsylvania. Then have him or her write a speech from the opposing side. Why do you think people relied on slaves?