This lesson is the first in the Barriers and Diversity Unit and the Barriers and Diversity Assessment Plan.

To download this lesson as a PDF, click here (Student handouts included).


Lesson Title: Introducing Colonial Life

Grade Level: 5th Grade

Scope and Sequence

  • 1st Lesson in Unit: Barriers and Diversity
  • Engage and Explore

Big Idea: Barriers and Diversity

Essential Questions

  1. How does where a person lives impact the way they live and interact with others?
  2. How is an individual impacted by his or her family history?


  • CCSS
    • 5.3 – Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
  • GLCEs
    • 5-U2.3.1 – Locate the New England, Middle, and Southern colonies on a map. (G)
    • 5-U2.3.2 – Describe the daily life of people living in the New England, Middle, and Southern colonies



  • The learner will be able to locate the New England, Middle, and Southern colonies on a map by comparing and contrasting the differences between the locations of colonies and states in Colonial America and the locations of states in Modern America, creating a double bubble chart highlighting the differences, and providing evidence from the text for the ideas found on the double bubble chart.
  • The learner will be able to report what he or she has discovered about people groups and locations in colonial times by recording his or her findings in a research journal and by creating a vlog specifically detailing significant daily events and interactions and inferring how the people groups’ location might impact those daily events and interactions.


The formative assessment for this lesson consists of two parts: the double bubble map and the vlog. The double bubble map functions as a way for students to organize information and gives them a visual reference point throughout the rest of the unit. The vlog will be an ongoing activity throughout the unit. This allows students to verbalize and make connections about what they are learning. This also functions as a reference point for students and allows them to look back on what they were thinking as the unit progresses.


  • 4 different colored markers (Carousel Activity)
  • White boards or large white poster paper (Carousel Activity)
  • Paper and writing utensils for double bubble maps
  • Video cameras for Vlogs (iPads? Camcorders?)
  • Computers with Internet Access for Research
  • Student Lesson Guide including double bubble and colonial map (See end of document)
  • Encyclopedias for Research
  • Various Trade Books for Research and Background Knowledge
    • The New Americans: Colonial Times: 1620-1689
      • Written by: Betsy Maestro
      • Illustrated by: Giulio Maestro
    • Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving
      • Written by: Joseph Bruchac
      • Illustrated by: Greg Shed
    • The Adventurous Life of Myles Standish and the Amazing-but-True Survival Story of Plymouth Colony
      • Written by: Cheryl Harness
    • African-Americans in the Thirteen Colonies
      • Written by: Deborah Kent
    • Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl
      • Written by: Kate Waters
    • Two Cultures Meet: Native American and European
      • Written by: Ann Rossi


Introducing the Unit – Engage (15-20 minutes)

  • Carousel Activity (Pretest)
    • Have set up: Four areas to write on (whiteboard or large white paper) around the classroom. At the top of each of these areas, write one of the following: Diverse, Colonial America, Perspectives, People Groups
    • Divide students up into four groups and send each group to one of the four areas with one of the colored markers.
    • Explain
      • I am going to set the timer for 2 minutes and I want you, as a group, to come up with as much as you can think of that fits under the category you are standing next to.
      • When the timer rings, you need to move to the next station (if necessary, discuss how movement will take place).
      • At that station, you will then do the same exact thing you did at the first station. The only difference is that if you see something that one of the previous groups wrote, you can cross it off (draw a line through it).
      • There is only one rule: You may not repeat what someone has already written.
      • When the timer rings again, move to the next station and repeat. You will do this until you reach the station you started at.
    • Set timer and begin the activity. Students will rotate through stations every 2 minutes.
    • Discussion: After each group has rotated through each station allow time for students to discuss the activity. Possible talking points may include:
      • What they wrote down and why they thought was important
      • Something someone else wrote down that they hadn’t thought of
      • Something they may disagree with
  • Introducing Big Idea and Essential Questions
    • Discussion: Based on the introductory activity, can you guess the Big Idea?
      • Prompt students for what to guess when/if necessary
      • Big Idea: Barriers and Diversity
    • Post (hang-up) Essential Questions around the room – allow for time to react to essential questions
      • Possible ideas for reacting: class discussion, entry in vlog, journal entry
      • Essential Questions:
        • How does where a person lives impact the way they live and interact with others?
        • How is an individual impacted by his or her family history?
        • What are the barriers an individual from one culture might encounter when he or she interacts with a person from another culture?
        • Can individuals from different cultures and backgrounds overcome these barriers?
      • Divide students up into Colonial Groups (4-5 students)

Building Background Information – Explore (35-40 minutes)

  • Discuss learning goals for the day – place in a visible location
    • “I will be able to locate the colonial regions of Colonial America on a map and compare and contrast the regions of Colonial America with the regions of Modern America”
    • “I will be able to infer daily events and interactions about the lives of people that make up different people groups in Colonial America and infer why where they live might be important.”
  • Geography (25 minutes)
    • Ask students about the regions of our country in Modern America (Wild-West, Midwest, East Coast, Down South, West Coast, etc.).
      • Ask: Which region do we live in? Why is that important? What makes our region different from other regions?
    • Segue: Colonial America also had regions. Can anyone tell me what those regions were? (New England, Middle, and Southern Colonies).
    • I’m going to give you ten minutes to figure out with your Colonial Group exactly what the regions are called, where they are located on a map, and how the Colonial regions are different from the regions of Modern America. I also want you to start thinking about who might have lived in that region. After that, we’ll come back together to talk about what you have discovered.
      • What are some ways we could find out this information? (Internet, Encyclopedia, Trade Book, etc.)
      • Some things to think about
        • Where is each region located?
        • Who lived in this region?
        • What was the main industry in this region?
        • Did a lot of people live in this region?
      • Set timer for 10 minutes. Monitor class, providing guidance when necessary.
      • After 10 minutes is up, call class back together.
      • Collaboration: have each group share one thing that they discovered.
      • Input: We need to organize our information, right? Because we are comparing Colonial America with Modern America, I want you to create a Double Bubble Map by yourself that shows how the regions of Colonial America and the regions of Modern America are similar and different.
        • Remember: Each piece of information you put on your double bubble map must be supported with evidence!
        • Reminder: What are our Essential Questions?
          • How does where a person lives impact the way they live and interact with others?
          • How is an individual impacted by his or her family history?
        • Your double bubble maps should for sure answer our first essential question and maybe even begin to answer our second essential question.
      • Allow 10 minutes for students to work on Double Bubble Maps. Monitor class, providing guidance when necessary.
    • Studying People Groups (10-15 minutes)
      • Discussion: Do you think the same kinds of people lived in each region?
        • What kinds of people groups lived in which regions? Why do you think they lived there?
      • With your Colonial Group, I would like you to make a vlog where you talk about what you learned about the Essential Questions.
        • Things I will be looking for:
          • The location of the different regions of Colonial America
          • How Colonial America is different from Modern America
          • Who lived in the different regions of Colonial America?
          • Why is it important that they lived there?
          • How did where people live impact the way they live?
          • Pose any questions you might still have.
        • At the end of this unit, you will have made many vlogs. You will be able to re-watch those vlogs and see exactly what you learned over the next two weeks.
  • Closure/Concluding Thoughts
    • After you are done with your vlog (it should only take you 5 minutes), you can choose one of three things to show me that you can answer our Essential Questions:
      • You may write me a paragraph in your research journal reacting to the Essential Questions.
      • You may create a concept map including the following ideas: People Groups (include two specific groups we looked at today), Diversity, Colonies, New England Colonies, Middle Colonies, Southern Colonies, Family, Culture, Modern America. You may either use pictures or words to create your map.
      • You may draw me two pictures. For the first picture, you must pick a colonial region and draw what it was like to live there. For the second picture, you need to draw what that colonial region looks like today and what it’s like to live there today.
    • This isn’t something that should take a very long time. I am going to give you 10 minutes to work on it. Get as far as you can and show off to me what you know!

Resources Included:


2 thoughts on “5th Grade: Introducing Colonial Life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s