Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Where to Build a Colony" Lesson Plan

Where to Build a Colony Lesson Plan

In the lesson plan "Where to Build a Colony", developed by Linda Reeves of Pat Nixon Elementary School, students experience compromises needed to determine where to place the Jamestown Colony on a map of the region where the settlers landed. Students each simulate different professions of those reaching the American shores in 1606 and each must advocate for his position (e.g., the fisherman must advocate for being in the vicinity of a good fishing location whereas the entrepreneur must advocate for a location that might maximize gold prospects).

This lesson would fit well in a unit on Jamestown. Consider using "Jamestown Spies," a unit plan geared toward intermediate-level learners. Richards Maxwell developed it as part of a Virginia Teaching American History Grant. The unit includes several lessons, relying on numerous primary sources. Students work with bar graphs of supply lists, create charades to reinforce difficulties of the settlers and their interactions with Native Peoples, practice literacy skills while interpreting an etching by Theodore de Bry, and consider geography as they map John Smith's explorations of Virginia.


I highly recommend the Heelotia simulation marketed by Stanford's Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education. Through the simulation, students experience what it may be like to experience a different culture for the first time. They do so by learning a fictitious culture, acting it out, and sending ambassadors between the two cultures. The two fictitious cultures are called Hellotians and Hokies.

The simulation cost in $12.95. Additional materials you may wish to use with the simulation include the Heelot and Hokie name tags (using Avery #5160 address labels) and smaller tokens.

"Crossing the Atlantic" Simulation

The "Crossing the Atlantic" simulation was originally conceived by Dr. Jennifer Ponder. Using her work, Dr. Christy Keeler prepared the lesson plan and slides available at The online lesson plan and that delivered in class vary slightly. The in-class version is set in 1620; the online lesson is set in 1890.

Below, you will find links to the slideshow and related videos used in this module. Download each of the files and place them in a single folder to assist in aligning the resources into a single slideshow.

Session I Class Slides (Including Mayflower Videos)

Class Session I Slides

Click here for the session slides. Additionally, download the supporting videos for the "Crossing the Atlantic—Mayflower Version" activity (see below).

Ocean Sounds compiled by Heather Rampton
Plymouth compiled by Christy Keeler, Ph.D.

Colonial Era Recommended Booklist—Intermediate Grades

Module Booklist: Recommended Children's Books for Colonial America Teaching Units (Grades 3-5)

Book Review II: Assignment Expectations

Module Book Review II: Assignment Expectations

Book Review I: Assignment Expectations

Module Book Review I: Assignment Expectations

Module Syllabus

Click here for the module syllabus.