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Thirteen Colonies Lesson for Kids

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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

Hands-On American History Lesson for Kids: Thirteen Colonies

Hands-On American History Lesson for Kids: Thirteen Colonies

This is the fourth lesson in a 28 series of lessons covering American History through 1865. This week covers the original 13 Colonies. I used these lessons while teaching a 45 minute history class for children in Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grades. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, homeschool, after-school program, or co-op!

Student biography report on William Penn

Student biography report on William Penn

Student Biography Presentation: William Penn

1. Student Biography Presentation on William Penn.

Pointing out the 13 Original Colonies on the US map from the book atlas, "It's a Big, Big World."

Pointing out the 13 Original Colonies on the US map from the book atlas, "It's a Big, Big World."

Review & Introduction to the 13 Colonies

2. Review: What can you remember about the settlement of Jamestown? (make sure someone mentions it was England's first successful colony.) When you hear Jamestown, which 2 people should you remember? (Pocahontas & John Smith) After Jamestown, another colony was established at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Who were these people? (the Pilgrims) What do you remember about the Pilgrims (Answers will vary) Which Native American man helped the Pilgrims? (Squanto) Name something you remember about Squanto. (Answers will vary.)

3. Introduce the 13 Colonies using a large map of the United States.

  • Point to Virginia, the site of Jamestown. England was so successful with its Jamestown colony, they kept sending over more people to American.
  • Point to Massachusetts, the site of Plymouth Plantation. The Pilgrims came so they could worship God freely.
  • Point up & down the eastern coast of America from Maine to Georgia. For 125 years more people from Europe started coming to America mainly for jobs and land and for religious reasons. They all settled on this east coast because they were coming mainly from England which is over here. [Point on the map around where England would be.]
  • Point to Pennsylvania. William Penn, who we just heard about, came to America so he could worship freely.
  • Point up & down the eastern coast of America from Maine to Georgia.These became the original 13 colonies of America. They were the first colonies of our country. Later, we called these colonies the United States of America.
  • Remember, who else lived here? Yes, the Native Americans. Some of them lived among the colonists. Some of them moved further to the west and some of them were already in the west and wouldn't be disturbed for a few more years.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • a map of the United States (I used the large map from It's a Big, Big World)
Mary Geddy's Day: A Day in Colonial Williamsburg by Kate Waters

Mary Geddy's Day: A Day in Colonial Williamsburg by Kate Waters

Daily Life During the Colonial Period

4. Read about typical life during the colonial period: Mary Geddy's Day: A Day in Colonial Williamsburg by Kate Waters.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Mary Geddy's Day: A Day in Colonial Williamsburg by Kate Waters or other book about colonial life
Sampling Ancient New England Standing Dish made from stewed pompion (pumpkin)

Sampling Ancient New England Standing Dish made from stewed pompion (pumpkin)

Colonial Work & Food

5. What were some of the chores Mary Geddy had to do each day? Most of the colonists had to spend their days working hard to grow & prepare their food, homes, clothing, tools, & anything else they needed. They followed the advice of Proverbs 6:6-9: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?” Which animal were they supposed to imitate? (ant) Why? Ants are always working, aren’t they? If the colonists didn’t work like ants, they wouldn’t have the food, clothing, or other things. We too can learn from the ants and the colonists and try to work hard each day even when no one is telling us what to do.

6. Who has a garden here? Who likes to help in your garden? One of the responsibilities that children your age would have done during Colonial America was to help in the fields. You might help chase off crows, pull weeds, drop seeds, or pick ripe vegetables. Who remembers what plant Squanto taught the Pilgrims to plant? (maize/corn). The Native Americans also taught the colonists to plant turnips, carrots, onions, garlic and pumpkins.

7. The Northern colonies were called the New England colonies probably because they were a lot like England. A common meal in the New England colonies was called Ancient New England Standing Dish made from stewed pompion. Show some canned pumpkin that is in a different container. Can anyone guess what pompion is? It’s pumpkin. Let’s try Ancient New England Standing Dish made from stewed pompion. Allow children to each have a small spoonful to taste. (The children will probably not like it.) Again, do you know understand why those spices from the Orient were so valuable?

YOU WILL NEED:

  • canned pumpkin in a container other than its can
  • a spoon for each child
Coloring the 13 colonies while singing their names

Coloring the 13 colonies while singing their names

13 Colonies Song & Map Coloring

8. Pass out a map of the 13 colonies. We're going to color each colony one by one as we sing the 13 Colonies song. We're all going to color together.

  • Put your finger on New Hampshire. [Point your finger to it on a copy of the map. Make sure each child has their finger on New Hampshire. Younger children might need you to put a red crayon dot on New Hampshire.]
  • Pick up your red crayon & color New Hampshire.
  • Over the next few lessons we're going to memorize a song to help us memorize the 13 Colonies. It starts with New Hampshire.
  • Sing 13 Colonies Song (Tune: Yankee Doodle) while pointing to each colony on your map.

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, little Delaware…
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina
South Carolina, Georgia, thirteen colonies!

  • Put your finger on Massachusetts. [Point your finger to it on a copy of the map. Make sure each child has their finger on Massachusetts. Younger children might need you to put an orange crayon dot on Massachusetts.]
  • Pick up your orange crayon & color Massachusetts.
  • Sing through the 13 Colonies Song again, pointing to each colony as you sing.
  • Put your finger on Rhode Island. [Point your finger to it on a copy of the map. Make sure each child has their finger on Rhode Island. Younger children might need you to put a yellow crayon dot on Rhode Island.]
  • Pick up your yellow crayon & color Rhode Island.
  • Sing through the 13 Colonies Song again, pointing to each colony as you sing.
  • Continue these steps for each colony, coloring them 1 at a time and singing the song after each time. We colored them in the order of the rainbow so children could easily follow the order with a color pattern they already knew.
  • Each child should put their map in their history 3 ring binder.

YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD:

  • a map of the 13 colonies (This map is the one I used.) punched with 3 hole punch
  • words to the song printed off on a small sheet of paper & pasted to the map
  • children's supplies: crayons

9. Review: How many original American colonies were there? (13)

10. Assign next week's biography presentation: Daniel Boone. (Be sure to mention to the parent or care giver that next week's focus will be on the French & Indian War, so try to include at least a little bit about his involvement in that war.)

The finished map of the 13 colonies

The finished map of the 13 colonies

We read through huge stacks of books and these were our favorite (in addition to the book used in the lesson):

  • William Penn: Founder of Pennsylvania (Graphic Biographies) by Ryan Jacobson
  • The New Americans: Colonial Times: 1620-1689 (The American Story) by Betsy Maestro (which is a longer picture book & will take multiple days to finish)
  • You Wouldn't Want to Be a Salem Witch!: Bizarre Accusations You'd Rather Not Face by Jim Pipe
  • The Farm: Life in Colonial Pennsylvania (Adventures in Colonial America) by James E. Knight (*Look for more by this author.*)
  • The Life of a Colonial Schoolteacher (JR. Graphic Colonial America) by Andrea Pelleschi (*Look for more in this series.*)
  • Colonial Clothes (Colonial Quest) by Verna Fisher (*Look for more by this author.*)
  • Old Silver Leg Takes Over! A Story of Peter Stuyvesant by Robert Quackenbush

Optional Homework: Watch Drawn History: The Founding of the 13 Colonies by the History Channel

Native Americans & Columbus Lesson
Jamestown Lesson
Pilgrims Lesson
Thirteen Colonies Lesson
French and Indian War Lesson
Colonial Period & Revolution Rumblings Lesson
Boston Massacre & Boston Tea Party Lesson
First Shots & Declaration of Independence Lesson
American War for Independence Battles Lesson
Valley Forge & Battle of Yorktown Lesson
American Literature Lesson & American War for Independence Review
Colonial Christmas Party
Constitution Lesson
Three Branches of Government Lesson
President George Washington Lesson
Louisiana Purchase Lesson
War of 1812 Lesson
Monroe Doctrine Lesson
Trail of Tears Lesson
Oregon Trail & Battle of Alamo Lesson
California Gold Rush & Pony Express Lesson
American Industrial Revolution Lesson
Underground Railroad Lesson
Abolitionists & Women Suffragists Lesson
Civil War: The Confederate States & Abraham Lincoln Lesson
Civil War Battles Lesson
Civil War Party & End of Year Review Game
Fun, Free Hands-on Unit Studies (My Lessons in All Subjects)

Comments

Shannon (author) from Florida on July 19, 2018:

Yes, that is quite interesting that you were discussing Jamestown with a family member. It is rich in history.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 19, 2018:

It's a small world! Earlier this morning I was talking about Jamestown with another family member, as we both know someone from the UK visiting that area. I have read your article with great interest.