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Thirteen Colonies Lesson Plans for 8th Grade American History

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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.


Need some help with your American History lessons? Take a peek at my lesson plans and ideas.

My first year teaching I was dying to see other teachers' plan books, but most of them were either blank or didn't seem suitable for our students ("high-risk" with poor reading skills). After teaching American history to 8th graders for a few years, I've developed this webpage in the hopes that it can help first year teachers get an idea of what to do, or help out some experienced teachers freshen up some lessons. Just to let you know, my "at-risk" students have the same passing rate on the history portion of the state standardized exam as the "advanced" students.

Below are my weekly lessons for weeks 3 - 8 on Colonialism. Please see my other lenses to see my complete lesson plan book. Please visit my Procedures and General Ideas for 8th Grade American History Squidoo Lens to see my classroom set up, procedures, grading, use of textbook, exam ideas, etc.

Please DO NOT copy this elsewhere without giving proper credit: .



Week 3: Day 1: Roanoke

What was England's first colony like?

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is the oldest town founded in America by Europeans? St. Augustine, Florida, which was settled by Spain in 1565.

Objective: What was England's first colony like?

1. Your parents go out of town. They give you the option of going with them or staying home and caring for your brothers and sisters. You accept the responsibility of staying home. a) List 3 things you can do now that you could not do before. b) List 3 things you were able to do before that you could not do now. (Teacher explanation: Colonialists still lived under Mother England's (your parent's) rules and still had responsibilities to take care of, but Mother England (your parents) was not able to intervene as much because an ocean separated them.)

2. Make "Unit I: Colonialism" cover page (2 minutes)

3. Discuss: a) In 1400, who was in the land now called the US? b) in 1500? c) What happened? Why? Discuss 2 main motives for exploration and colonies (money and religion). Have them draw symbols for those two things on their unit cover page.

4. Show European Exploration Map. Read pp. 83-85.

5. Show video "The Mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke," and have students answer worksheet with questions on video.

6. WRAP-UP: ROANOKE AGAIN? The Queen of England has asked you to discover the reasons why Roanoke failed and to propose ways to correct the mistakes made at Roanoke. Create a t-chart to show the queen what you have discovered. Why Roanoke Failed/Plan for Success. For example, your first entry might be: Lack of food - More money to buy food and plan to arrive in the spring.

Great Resources on Roanoke

Also look for "Roanoke: The Lost Colony--An Unsolved Mystery from History" by Heidi E. Y. Stemple and "The Lost Colony Of Roanoke" by Jean Fritz.

Virginia Company

Virginia Company

Week 3: Day 2: Virginia Company & Jamestown

Who paid for the colonies?

Objective: Who paid for the colonies?

1. You have $400 to spend on purchasing stock. After looking at the stock page on the overhead, select which stock(s) you would purchase. Why did you select the one(s) you purchased? (*This one requires some explanation before they start. Your overhead can be printed off the Internet on a page that shows how some of the better known stocks (like Coca-Cola and Walmart)did the day before.)

2. Background: explain how stocks work & read pp. 94-95.

Scroll to Continue

3. Financing Jamestown Game:

o I am the CEO of Virginia Company, a joint stock company. I have a nameplate that says CEO. I select two people to be my secretaries. They get nameplates that say, "Secretary." They'll collect money and pass out shares of stock. Everyone else gets a nameplate that says "Investor" along with $50 in fake money.

o I tell the students that they are all merchants who want to make more money. I, the CEO of Virginia Company, am going to offer them an opportunity to invest in my company to finance colonial settlements.

o First we discuss the problems and failures at Roanoke, but then I explain why my company believes there is more gold in the New World. In order for us to finance the exploration, I need to borrow their money. They can buy shares of stock in the company. As soon as we find gold, their shares of stock could be worth maybe 100 times or even 150 times what they pay for it. Plus, if at the end of the class, they are the richest person in the "boardroom," they will receive candy. Students can now purchase stock certificates (which say: Stock certificate, Virginia Company, This certificate entitles the holder to one share of the Virginia Trading Company and all profits and liabilities, 6 September 1606) for $10 a piece. My secretaries collect the money and pass out the certificates.

o Tell the students that as a result of their investments, we were able to establish a settlement in Jamestown off the Virginia Coast in 1607. Let's read about it. Read from textbook about needs and hardships of Jamestown. Discuss the early problems in Jamestown. Explain that because of these problems, the value of each share has dropped 50%, so they're now only worth $5. Let investors sell stocks, receiving only $5 back per certificate. They can also buy ones at $5 each. Let them know they might never get any money back if the colony continues to fail, but if gold is found, the stocks could be worth much more.

o Read from textbook about how Jamestown flourishes because of tobacco. Discuss why Jamestown was successful. Now the certificates are worth $50 each. Students count up how much profit they have. (We don't actually exchange money this time.) The person with the most gets candy.

4. Chart out what happened during the game using two columns with arrows between. Here is what we used: Company or individuals want to establish a settlement in the New World >>> Company founders sell stocks. >>> Merchants purchase stocks, hoping to make a profit. >>> Invested money pays for supplies and ships. >>> Jamestown founded in the New World >>> Jamestown settlers find no gold, fall on hard times. >>> Value of stocks decrease; some stockholders sell for a loss. >>> Jamestown prospers by growing tobacco. >>> Value of stocks increase; stockholders can sell for a profit.

5. WRAP-UP: MY EXPERIENCE AS AN INVESTOR: It is 1618. You either invested a lot or a little in the Virginia Company, and now you're writing a postcard to tell your nephew about your great fortune or misfortune. Describe to him your experiences/reactions to what occurred with your money. Include as much historical information as you can remember. Write at least 5 sentences.



Week 3: Day 3: Jamestown

What was Jamestown like then and what is it like now?

Objective: What was Jamestown like then and what is it like now?

Homework: Get agenda signed

1. You have been selected to be one of the first 100 people to live in an experimental colony on the planet Mars. There is no promise of you surviving or returning. Would you still go? Why (not)? (Teacher explanation: going to Mars = going to the colonies. Think of all the unknowns.)

2. Have students make a time line of the major events that occurred during the colonization of Jamestown.

3. Survival rate: Pull out 800 blocks or dried beans. This was the number of people who went there. Then pull out from the jar a pre-counted bag of 60 of the blocks or beans. This was how many survived.

4. Create a KWL chart on Jamestown: What I know, what I want to know, and what I learned. Have students fill out the first two sections.

5. Virtual Field Trip to Jamestown. (Internet) We go to the computer lab to do this. If your school doesn't have one available, you can have them work on the field trip in pairs at the class computers while the rest of the students read from the book and answer questions about Jamestown and the early settlements. My first year I taught I had to do this. I wrote on the board the pairs and the order they would go. Each pair had 15 minutes to complete as much as they could. In order to have your students go on this virtual field trip, upload The Jamestown Master Sheet onto your school network (so that students can't change it). [See Below]

6. Have students complete the third section (what I learned) on their KWL chart.

Jamestown Adventure Master

You are about to embark on a journey through ancient Jamestown. Visit the following tour stops and answer the questions at each site. Most of the text from this tour is taken directly from signs on the island of Jamestown.

The Land

This shows what the land looked like when the settlers first arrived.

James Fort

Statue of John Smith

Pocahontas Statue

Glass House

Jamestown Church


Hunt Shrine

Memorial Cross

Name 3 items you see, and use two sentences to describe each item.

Jamestown Adventure Sheet A


You are about to embark on a journey through ancient Jamestown. Visit the following tour stops and answer the questions at each site. Most of the text from this tour is taken directly from signs on the island of Jamestown.

The Land

1) Describe what the land looks like.

James Fort

2) In what shape did the Virginia settlers build their fort?


This map shows the current excavation of the Jamestown Fort. Click on three parts of the excavation. List what part you are looking at (for example, Pit 1, Bulwark, Ditch, etc.), and write one interesting thing you learned about each excavation site you visit. *** Use the back of this page if you need more space to write.




Statue of John Smith

3) What made John Smith a good settler for the wilderness?

4) Describe John Smith's personality.

Pocahontas Statue

5)Who was Pocahontas?

6) Who was her father and what did he do?

Glass House

7)What would men do in the glass house?

Jamestown Church

8) Describe the first church and its services.

9) Underline the correct answer: Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married in the (first, second, third, fifth, seventh, eighth) church built in Jamestown.


10) From where did the colonists usually get their tombstones? Why?

Hunt Shrine

11) Who was Reverend Robert Hunt?

Memorial Cross

12) This cross was placed here in memory of whom?

13) Name 3 items you see, and use two sentences to describe each item.




Jamestown Adventure Sheet B


You are about to embark on a journey through ancient Jamestown. Visit the following tour stops and answer the questions at each site. Most of the text from this tour is taken directly from signs on the island of Jamestown.

The Land

1) Describe what the land looks like.

James Fort

2) How many acres was the original fort?


This map shows the current excavation of the Jamestown Fort. Click on three parts of the excavation. List what part you are looking at (for example, Pit 1, Bulwark, Ditch, etc.), and write one interesting thing you learned about each excavation site you visit. *** Use the back of this page if you need more space to write.




Statue of John Smith

3) Describe John Smith's personality.

4) Why was John Smith the colony's principal Indian trader?

Pocahontas Statue

5)Who was Pocahontas?

6) Who was her father and what did he do?

Glass House

7)What would men do in the glass house?

Jamestown Church

8) Describe the first church and its services.

9) How many churches were built in Jamestown?


10) From where did the colonists usually get their tombstones? Why?

Hunt Shrine

11) Who was Reverend Robert Hunt?

Memorial Cross

12) This cross was placed here in memory of whom?

13) Name 3 items you see, and use two sentences to describe each item.




(To see a powerpoint of the above information, go to

Jamestown Fort Today

My Favorite Resources on Jamestown

Another great DVD to use to show historical reenactments is "First Landing - The Voyage From England to Jamestown."

I actually get lots of interesting tidbits of information that I toss into my lectures from reading well-researched children's books. "John Smith Escapes Again!" by Rosalyn Schanzer is a fabulous picture book biography on John Smith, and "Pocahontas: Young Peacemaker" by Leslie Gourse provides an interesting perspective on the childhood of Pocahontas.



Week 4: Day 1: Pilgrims

Why did/do people move to America?

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What was the first college to be founded in the British colonies, and what year was if founded? [Answer: Harvard, the first college in the British colonies, was founded in 1636.]

Objective: Why did/do people move to America?

1. GOING TO A NEW SCHOOL Your parents move and so you have to start going to a new middle school. You are now forced to make new friends. In 3-5 sentences, describe what you encounter. What are your feelings? Does anyone help you? How?(Teacher explanation: new school = colonies. Native Americans helped.)

2. Discuss how many times people have moved.

3. Have students complete The Why People Move worksheet:


A. How many houses or apartments have you lived in since you were born?

B. Listed below are possible reasons families move to a different place. Circle the letter next to the reasons that describe why your family has moved during your lifetime.

a. climate

b. better job

c. closer to family

d. racial or ethnic pressure

e. better or larger house or apartment

f. less expensive housing

g. closer to schools

h. urban renewal

i. fire or flood damage

j. safer neighborhood

k. closer to place of work

l. other (specify)

C. What obstacles did you encounter while moving?

D. What difficulties did you have in adjusting to each new home and neighborhood?

4. Categorize reasons into push/pull factors

5. Read pp. 98-99 about the experiences of the Pilgrims.

6. Watch video, "Strangers in a Strange Land". Take 10 notes. Stop the video frequently to explain.

7. Chart Push/Pull factors for Pilgrims: Have students draw England, then Holland, then the New World. There should be two arrows (red representing push factor and purple representing a pull factor) pointing each direction between the three countries. Between England and Holland is written "Religion." Under England in red is written, "Persecution by King James I." Between Holland and the New World is written "Children, Jobs, and Religion." Under Holland in purple is written, "Holland was the most religiously tolerant country in Europe." In red is written, "Children started acting Dutch" and "They couldn't get jobs." Under the New World in purple is written, "Parents were hoping they would the only influence on their kids" and "Plenty of open fertile land to farm."

My Favorite Books on the Pilgrims

I love having great picture books available to read to my class just in case we finish up a bit early. Even if they won't admit it, 8th graders still love listening to picture books. Kate Waters has written a number of excellent books that follow a child or children from this time period. The titles include "On the Mayflower", "Samuel Eaton’s Day", "Sarah Morton’s Day", and "Tapenum's Day." “Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation” by Diane Stanley is another great picture book that goes through common misconceptions about the pilgrims and Thanksgiving.

DVD's I use for Class

I show short clips from these videos to my class. Including visuals from DVD's like Mayflower Crossing really helps students to conceptualize what life was like back then, how difficult the journey was, and that these were real people. Using clips from The Drive Thru History DVD is nice because the children get to see what is there today, just as if they went on a class field trip to the historic places; plus, even though they groan at the corny jokes, I think at least some of the appreciate the cheesy humor.

13 Original Colonies

13 Original Colonies

Week 4: Day 2: New England, Middle, & Southern Colonies

How did the 13 colonies develop?

Objective: How did the 13 colonies develop?

Homework: Finish 13 colonies map and get agenda signed

1. WHERE IN THE U.S.? After studying the picture on the overhead, answer the following questions: a) Where in the U.S. do you think this is? B) What did you see in the picture that made you think this? C) What type of weather do you think they have here? D) What types of jobs do you think the people who live here have?

2. Notes and discussion on 13 colonies.

o I use p. 61 from Adventure Tales of America: An Illustrated History of the United States, 1492-1877 (Signal Media Corporation) and have students highlight the important aspects. Then, for the New England colonies, the students draw a boot. Above the boot, they write, "1620 - Pilgrims/Puritans/Separatists started Plymouth, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. Inside the boot they write "Covenant" as the Covenant between God and His people was what initially drove their society. They also write "Massachusetts" inside the boot as the other New England colonies started as a result of Massachusetts "booting out" dissenters, who then went on to start the other colonies. Off the toe of the boot, students write "Dissenters," with three lines. One says "Roger Williams" and "Rhode Island", the next says "John Wheeler" and "New Hampshire", and the third says, "Thomas Hooker" and "Connecticut."

o For the Middle Colonies, the students draw a bread basket with four loaves of bread (as they were known as the bread basket colonies because of their grains production). On the bread basket write "Bread Basket Colonies." Write one of the following in each of the loaves of bread: Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Inside the loaf that says, "Pennsylvania" write "William Penn, Quaker, Radical religious tolerance." Be sure to mention Quaker oatmeal! Under the bread basket, write "Main export was grain." Below the bread basket, have students draw a dollar bill. In the middle, have them write "Cash Crops." Around the middle, have them write "Crops grown to be sold."

o For the Southern colonies, have students drawn their hand as the South's economy required lots of hand for labor; plus, there were 5 colonies in the South. On each finger, write one of the following: Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia (the thumb - as it was the most important). At the tip of each finger, write and then draw the following crops: Cotton (Maryland), Indigo (North Carolina), Tobacco (South Carolina), Rice (Georgia). Inside Georgia's finger, write "prisoners/buffer from Spanish colony" since it was initially a colony of prisoners and acted as a buffer from Fort St. Augustine.

3. WRAP-UP: MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE COLONIES: Create a chart including New England, Middle, and Southern Colonies. Summarize the major characteristics of each region. List at least 4 of the most important features of each region.

4. Label map of 13 colonies.

Middle Colonies

Middle Colonies

Week 5: Day 1: Colony Placard Project

How did the Colonies Differ?

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What was the first American colony to abolish slavery? [Answer: Vermont in 1777. The first of the original 13 Colonies to abolish slavery was Pennsylvania in 1780. (Either answer would be fine.)]

Objective: How did the Colonies Differ?

Homework: Finish placard

1. WHERE I WOULD LIVE: A) If you could live anywhere in the U.S., where would you live? Why? B) What would the climate (weather) be like? C) What type of geography (mountains, swamps, oceans, etc.) would be there? D) What types of jobs would most people have?

2. Placards: Students work in groups of 2-3 to create placards/posters advertising their assigned colony. The placards should be fashioned after ones from that time period. Have PLENTY of examples to show. I use the information and matrix from Colonial Life and the American Revolution: 1.2 An Introduction to Colonial Society: Examine the motivation for colonization and English settlement. Steps to success: a) READ over the information page on your colony. As you read, highlight important information. B) DISCUSS ideas for the placard. C) CREATE the placard. Grading Checklist: a) Does it include the important information (in your own words) from all 7 categories? B) Is it neat, creative, and historic looking? C) Did everyone in the group contribute equally?

Researching the 13 Colonies

13 Colony Presentations

13 Colony Presentations

Week 5: Day 2: Colony Placard Presentations

How did the Colonies differ?

Objective: How did the Colonies differ?

Homework: "Do You Know Your Colonies?" Worksheet and get agenda signed

1. No warm-up. Sit in your group and prepare for your presentations.

2. Presentations. Students fill out charts about each colony as each group presents their information. If a group does present the wrong information, the entire class will get that marked off on their worksheets, so the group had better make sure they have the correct information.

Grading for presentation: A) Did they present (50) B) Was it presented, not read? (10) C) Was it clear (order, volume, dictation, speed)? (10) D) Did it cover each category correctly and completely? (20) E) Did everyone speak? (10). Grading for placard: A) Turned in on time (50) B) Includes all important information (20) C) Neat, creative, and historic looking (20) D) Everyone in the group participated (10).

3. WRAP-UP: MOVING TO THE COLONIES: The year is 1733, and you live in England. You have decided to move to one of the 13 colonies. Write a letter to your best friend. Tell him/her which colony you are moving to and why (5 traits). Then try to convince him/her to join you (2+ reasons).

4. "Do You Know Your Colonies?" Worksheet

Founders of the Colonies

"Old Silver Leg Takes Over! A Story of Peter Stuyvesant" by Robert Quackenbush and “Finding Providence: The Story of Roger Williams” by Avi are great picture books to have on hand to read to your class if you finish up a bit early. I keep both books in my classroom, and my students are always excited if we have time to pull one out to read.

Patrick Henry addressing the House of Burgesses

Patrick Henry addressing the House of Burgesses

Week 6: Day 1: Colonial Governments

How did we get our government structure?

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What are three of the four states were names after people who were NOT kings or queens? [Answer: Delaware (Lord De La Ware), New York (Duke of York), Pennsylvania (William Penn), Washington (George Washington)]

Objective: How did we get our government structure?

Homework: Finish worksheet

1. In 4+ sentences/phrases, describe what "freedom" means to you.

2. Draw power pyramid: Draw a large triangle. At the top, outside the triangle, write "Least people" and "Most Power." At the base of the triangle, write "Most people" and "Least power." At the top of the pyramid write "KING: OWNS ALL LAND, MAKES ALL POLICIES", below that "PARLIAMENT: LAW-MAKING BODY THAT ADVISES THE KING", below that "GOVERNOR: THE KING'S REPRESENTATIVE WHO WAS APPOINTED BY THE KING TO RULE THE COLONY", below that "ASSEMBLIES: APPOINTED/ELECTED SELF COLONY LAW-MAKING BODY", below that "TOWN MEETINGS: GATHERING OF LAND-OWNING COLONISTS TO TALK ABOUT TAXES, MONEY, AND LAWS."

3. House of Burgesses activity: Create cards for each student (20 with green dots, 7 with red dots, and 3 blank). Have each student draw a card. All the students with red dots get to sit at a special table in the middle of the desks. These students are the representatives. The students with the green dots are the land-owning people who have voted in the inner circle as representatives to make laws for them. The students with blank cards have to sit on the floor. They may not say anything. They represent all those who do not own land (slaves, indentured servants, and poor people). The inner circle gets to create three new class rules that will last for the rest of the class period. The land-owning people have 30 seconds to voice their ideas to the representatives. The representatives have 4 minutes to come up with new laws. I, the governor, have final authority to approve the rules. In making my decision, I will keep in mind what our principal, "The King" would approve. I carry out or veto the rules.

4. T-chart out what the classroom activity was versus reality: Principal = King, Teacher = Governor of Virginia, Names of 7 students = Assembly/House of Burgesses, Most of class = property-owners, Names of those who couldn't vote = non-property owners

5. WRAP-UP: HOUSE OF BURGESSES GOVERNMENT: In 3-5 sentences, describe your thoughts/feelings on this type of government.

6. Road to the Constitution Notes: Draw 3 posters. On the first poster write "MAYFLOWER COMPACT (Everyone must agree to pass a law)." On the next write "FUNDAMENTAL ORDERS OF CONNECTICUT (World's first constitution)." On the third write "HOUSE OF BURGESSES (first legislative body of self-government)."

7. Trail to self-government worksheet

8. Pass out unit extra credit worksheet with the end of the "Common Course and Condition" in Plymouth and sections from Benjamin Franklin's Almanac to students who want them.

Life in the colonies

Life in the colonies

Week 6: Day 2: Daily Life in the Colonies

What was daily life like for the colonists?

Objective: What was daily life like for the colonists?

1. If your family decided to move to a foreign country, what 3 things would you want to know about daily life there?

2. Tour of the colonies. Use posters with pictures and information on various aspects of Colonial Life: Native Americans Teacing & Helping Colonists, Native Americans and Colonists in Conflict over land, Enslaved People and Their Treatment, Quilting Bees, Life on a Small Farm, Colonial Trade, Leisure, Communities, Marriage, Importance of the Church, Food, Education, Families, Life on the Frontier, Deathand Funerals. Students read the poster and fill out a chart containing 3+ notes about each poster. Have one poster at each set of desks. Have pairs of students move to another station every 3 1/2 minutes. Include some objects at pertinent stations (like a quilted item at "Quilting Bees," an ear of corn at "Native Americans Teaching and Helping Colonists" or at "Food", a piece of wheat at "Life on the Small Farm," etc.)

3. WRAP-UP: COLONIAL LIFE A) Using the information you've read about today and what you've learned prior in class, complete the following diagram. On the left side, list 5+ push factors that caused colonists to leave England. On the right side list 5+ pull factors that attracted settlers to the 13 colonies. B) What was the most interesting aspect of colonial life? Why? C) Take the 3 questions you asked in the warm-up and answer them for the colonial period of America. If you never read an answer on a placard, make an educated guess.

Great Books on Daily Life in the Colonies

I also got fun tidbits to toss into my lectures from "If You Lived In Williamsburg in Colonial Days" by Barbara Brenner, "If You Lived In Colonial Times" by Ann Mcgovern, and "The New Americans: Colonial Times" by Betsy Maestro.

Triangular Trade

Triangular Trade

Week 6: Day 3: Triangular Trade & the Slave Trade

How did the colonists get what they needed, and how did it lead it slavery?

Objective: How did the colonists get what they needed, and how did it lead it slavery?

Homework: Get agenda signed

1. CLOTHES FROM ALL OVER: Using a partner if needed, read your clothing tags. Find out where at least 3 of your articles of clothing were made. Write the articles of clothing and in what countries they were made. Example: Shirt - Pakistan

2. Read p. 118 on triangular trade.

3. Notes: Draw triangular trade and go over Navigation Acts. Have students copy p. 65 from Adventure Tales of America: An Illustrated History of the United States, 1492-1877 (Signal Media Corporation). (Analogy: The government says that you can only buy clothes from The Gap. If you want to buy something from Dillards, you must order it through The Gap, and they'll charge you more than Dillards charged them PLUS a shipping fee.)

4. Show an overhead of p. 140 from This is America's Story (Wilder, Ludlum, and Brown)

5. Show powerpoint slides of the slave trade. Be sure to mention that this is not when slavery first started. Think back to Israel in Egypt. It wasn't even the American Colonists who came up with the idea. African tribes were frequently at war with one another. They were already enslaving people from tribes they'd conquered. Initially, some colonists showed up with the need for hands to work the tobacco fields, and they had guns (to help the tribes win more tribal wars) and rum (that tasted good) to exchange for the prisoners of war that tribe had.

6. WRAP-UP: ENSLAVED AFRICANS: Create a sensory figure (I heard, saw, tasted, smelled, felt...) for an enslaved African who's survived a voyage from Africa to colonial America.

French and Indian War

French and Indian War

Week 7: Day 1: French and Indian War

How and why did the colonists' relationship change with England?

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Name one of the Indian tribes who fought in the French and Indian war. [Answer: In the struggle between France and England for control of North America (1754-63), most, but not all, Indians fought on the French side. They included the Abnaki of Maine, the Delaware and Shawnee of Pennsylvania, and the Potawatomi and Ottawa of Michigan and Wisconsin. The English relied on the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.]

Objective: How and why did the colonists' relationship change with England?

(Before class, place tape across the room dividing it into ¼ and ¾. On the tape write, "Proclamation of 1763" and "Appalachian Mountains")

1. Someone said, "War is always justified," meaning that whenever there's been a war, there's been a good reason for it. Do you agree or disagree? Write a response in 3-5 sentences explaining your opinion.

2. Students draw North America in 1754.

3. Notes on French and Indian War. Go powerpoint slides on events leading to French and Indian War. Students take 4+ notes per slide.

4. Students draw North America in 1763.

5. Read "Declaration of Independence" for Freedom Week.

French & Indian War Resources

I got some fun information to share with my class from the children's picture book "Struggle for a Continent: The French and Indian Wars" by Betsy Maestro and "The Matchlock Gun" by Walter D. Edmonds (which would also bee a good book to read aloud to the class if you have time).


Week 7: Day 2: French and Indian War

How and why did the colonists' relationship change with England?

Objective: How and why did the colonists' relationship change with England?

Homework: Study for exam and get agenda signed

1. UNIT EVALUATION a) What are 3 specific things you've learned during this unit on colonialism? B) What are 2 areas about which you still feel confused? C) List the one area from this unit about which you would have like to study more.

2. Have students all try to stand in taped off area (Proclamation of 1763). Ask how they feel and how the settlers probably felt not being able to spread out. Ask if any of them are tempted to step over the line into the rest of the classroom. Many of the colonists wanted to do the same over the Appalachian Mountains.

3. Go through powerpoint slides depicting aspects of the French and Indian War. Students take 4+ notes per slide on the same page from the last class period.

4. WRAP-UP: FROM CONTENT TO DISCONTENT: Create 2 facial figures: one of a British colonist before the French and Indian War and one after. For each figure, use 2+ descriptive sentences explaining their thoughts/feelings toward England and WHY they feel that way.

5. (3 minutes) Quickly glance over the Constitution for Freedom Week

6. Review Game


Week 8: Day 1: Exam

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: John Hancock (1737-93) is best remembered now for his flamboyant signature on the Declaration of Independence in 1776, but he was also the president of the Continental Congress. What helped him earn this position: his actions, funds, inspiration, or inventions? [Answer: His most distinctive contribution to the rebel cause was the money (funds). Hancock was a merchant who had inherited a fortune from a smuggler uncle. He used his wealth to help finance the revolution. After the war, Hancock became governor of Massachusetts.]

Objective: What have I learned about the 13 English colonies?

Homework: Finish worksheet

1. Study/Cram Time

2. 13 Colonies Exam

3. Worksheet introducing next unit on the American Revolution/American War for Independence.

***Week Eight continues into my unit on the American Revolution/American War for Independence.***

Weeks 1-2: First Week of School & Geography Lesson Plans for 8th Grade American History

Weeks 3-8: Thirteen Colonies Lesson Plans (This Lesson)

Weeks 8-13: American Revolution Lesson Plans

Weeks 13-16: Constitution Lesson Plans

Week 17: American Literature Lesson Plans

Weeks 18-19: Our New Nation Lesson Plans

Weeks 20-22: Industrial Revolution Lesson Plans

Weeks 23-26: Westward Expansion & Roads to Freedom Lesson Plans

Weeks 26-30: Civil War Lesson Plans

Are you a history teacher?

Let me know you dropped by please! - Was this lens helpful? Do you have any questions, comments, or additional ideas? Please post here!

Cara on May 10, 2020:

Thank you so much for this information. It will be so helpful for a first year middle school teacher. I wa?s wondering where I could possible get my hands on the History Alive worksheets that you mentioned in your posts?

Also what text book did you use to teach American History to 8th graders?

Yolana on June 03, 2018:

Finding your page on Pinterest was a blessing. I am finishing up my first year teaching 8th grade social studies and I have found some useful information for next year's planning!

Shannon (author) from Florida on September 26, 2017:

Thank you so much!

Mallory Proctor on September 10, 2017:

I am a first year teacher, teaching both 7th and 8th grade Social Studies, your resources are great, thank you!! :)

Kyle MacKenzie on August 29, 2017:

Hello, I am currently teaching in Vietnam, teaching US History. I am a Canadian, so you are a lifesaver. Just curious where I can find the movies that you mention. Thanks.

Shannon (author) from Florida on August 10, 2017:

Thank you! I'm happy you have found these to be helpful!

Leslie Rosenthal on August 09, 2017:

Very helpful and great resources

DeBorah Klimeh on July 21, 2017:

Thank you so much for sharing your lesson plans. This is very helpful.

Shannon (author) from Florida on September 15, 2015:

Thank you! I'm so glad you have found this to be helpful and that it inspired you!

TeacherofTigers on September 06, 2015:

Your site is just what I needed. Thank have encouraged me to do the same and pay it forward. Thank you for the info, and for the inspiration.

Shannon (author) from Florida on March 06, 2015:

Thank you so much! I taught at a school that used the block system. We had longer classes (1 1/2 hours). My students only had history on Tuesday and Thursday one week and then Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the following week.

Meggan on March 05, 2015:


I love your lessons but I am curious why most weeks have only 2 or 3 lessons. Thank you!

Shannon (author) from Florida on January 26, 2015:

I'm so glad you've found my site helpful!

Courtney on January 25, 2015:

Love your site! I'm always looking for new ways to engage my students.

Shannon (author) from Florida on October 19, 2014:

Thank you so much for visiting! That was an old video we had in our school district resource library. You could possibly try to find it on e-bay or amazon; however, you could also just use a different video on the Pilgrims. The History Channel has put out a number of great ones!

shandsfam on October 03, 2014:

Thanks for sharing your ideas. Like you, I'm a former public school teacher who now homeschools. I'm wondering where I might find the video you used for the Pilgrims: Week 4, Day1. You refer to it as "Strangers in a Strange Land."


Shannon (author) from Florida on July 31, 2014:

@devmonbar: It sounds like you have an amazing opportunity, a positive spirit, and great ideas! I had similar demographics among my students (almost all ethnic minorities, some ESL, & a few with IEP in each class), so hopefully my lessons will be of help to you.

The first year I taught American History, I had the students write quite a bit more in âhistoric diaries,â analyze primary resources, and more. I applied what and how I had learned in college to how I was going to teach these students. Some of the students hated my class, and many had failing grades the first semester. I quickly realized I needed to make changes. What I have posted are my lessons from my last year teaching 8th grade history.

As far as your evaluation idea goes, I donât think it sounds like too much to do at the end of each unit so long as you provide enough time for it to get done. I assigned almost no homework the entire year. That means projects got done in the classroom during class time.

You should definitely have some amazing field trip opportunities! Hopefully youâll have a wonderful year!

devmonbar on July 30, 2014:

Hello. I love your site!!!

There are so many resources and ideals!

This will be my first year as a history teacher and I will be teaching for the NYC Department of Education. I am super excited because I got a job at a really good school in East Harlem teaching 7th and 8th Grade Social Studies. The curriculum follows US and New York State History to 1877 in the 7th grade and since 1877 in the 8th grade. I know that I will be teaching two 7th grade classes and two 8th grade classes, with no more than 20 students in each section.

The school is primarily has a black and hispanic student population, about 1/4 of the students require special education and ESL services. Initially, NYS required that all 8th graders take an end of the year standardized exam for Social Studies, but due to budgetary reasons, that was discontinued. So essentially, per my principal and assistant principal, I have "free range" to teach these classes, as long as I stick to the curriculum, I help develop students reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, and use project-based assessments and "tons of technology". Additionally, the school just received a grant to allow more educational field trips with an "substantial amount" going to the Humanities and Fine Arts department. This will come in handy since New York City and New York State has a rich history and terrific historical sites for students to visit, even nearby Mass, and CT.

So, my problem is how to come up with a curriculum that would cater to all of my students. One of my main goals of teaching 7th and 8th grade Social Studies is to show how NYS and NYC contributed to American History. The content is not really my problem, but I am having trouble with creating activities that will keep my diverse learners engaged. I want to make my class fun, but at the same time incorporating a range of activities that will help develop my students critical thinking and problem solving skills, as well as their reading and writing skills. I have divided the school year into 12 Units, 3 for each quarter, with roughly 12 to 14 instructional days for each unit. At the end of each unit, I want to assess the students with a project, writing assignment, and a unit exam. (Please let me know if it is too much)

My other problem is creating an introductory unit that will set the foundation for the rest of the school year, introducing students to skills that we will be working on for the next two years. I want the first Unit to serve as an introduction to skills needed to think and write like a Historian. I don't want to assume that the students should already have these skills and I want to start early with them (not only the 7th graders, but 8 graders).

So I wanted to know what you (and anyone else reading this) think about the following ROUGH draft for my introductory Unit:

Lesson(s)/Demonstration on Analyzing Primary Sources


Written Sources

Historical Maps


Political Cartoons

Lesson(s)/Demonstration on Analyzing Secondary Sources

Written Sources

Interpreting Maps

Interpreting Charts

Interpreting Graphs

I want to teach these skills using current events, information about the United States, New York State and New York City (stats, demographics, etc).

For the eight graders, I was thinking about teaching these skills using the content from 7th grade as a review (sort of a "refresher" of the major themes in US History before 1877)

Also I want my students to be familiar with the following writing assignments since it will be required for standardized testing in their high school history classes:

Writing Portfolio

Constructed Response Question and CRQ Essay

Document Based Question and DBQ Essay

Thematic Essay

I want to incorporate the following in my activities throughout the school year for subsequent lessons:

Understanding Historical Readings

Finding Main Ideas

Following Chronological Order

Clarifying; Summarizing

Identifying Problems

Analyzing Motives

Analyzing Causes and Effects

Comparing; Contrasting

Distinguishing Fact from Opinion

Making Inferences

Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Developing Historical Perspective

Formulating Historical Questions


Analyzing Issues

Analyzing Assumptions and Biases

Evaluating Decisions and Course of Action

Evaluating and Formulating Opinions

Drawing Conclusions


Making Predictions

Forming Generalizations

I am sorry for the lengthy message and I please feel free to provide me with any advice. As a first year teacher, I know I will have a lot of obstacles, no matter how hard I prepare, but I want to be prepare and also be prepared to use alternative methods as I get to know my learners.

Oy! Its gonna be a stressful year! :-)


Shannon (author) from Florida on July 24, 2014:

@amne2663: Thank you for the kind comments! I'm glad you've found my lessons to be helpful! As soon as I teach a full year of World History or American Government, I'll be sure to post my lessons! For a full list of the lessons I've posted, you can go to .

amne2663 on July 24, 2014:

Who are you ?

Can you plan government and worldhistory your the best

I love the activities you use

Love your ideas and resources.

Thank you Thank you Thank you this was great

Shannon (author) from Florida on July 10, 2014:

@tazzytamar: Thank you so much for the kind comments!

Shannon (author) from Florida on July 10, 2014:

@blumlor: I'm so glad you have found my lessons to be helpful!

blumlor on July 05, 2014:

After completing my first year in the classroom, I began planning for next year to make learning more engaging and meaningful. I love the activities you use, like the beans to illustrate the population of Jamestown. Love your ideas and resources. Thanks so much for sharing. You have inspired me. Thanks so much for sharing.

Anna from chichester on July 01, 2014:

What a wonderfully written article - I'm sharing this and I also just want to say I admire you very much for doing such an amazing job with 6 children! They will all certainly grow to be very well educated :)

Shannon (author) from Florida on March 20, 2014:

@ceejay-zeigler: I'm so glad you've found my lessons helpful! Some of the worksheets came with our textbook and some were worksheets that came from a series of History Alive! lessons that is no longer being published.

ceejay-zeigler on March 18, 2014:

i just so happened to be discussing the 13 colonies and its government and found myself struggling to make it interesting for myself as well as my students and with the help of your lesson on week 7 i can see myself progressing more swiftly and engaging my students in a variety of ways. i plan to revisit this site and pass it off to my colleagues as well thank you so much for this. however i was curious about where i can get some of the worksheets you speak of, mainly the trail to self-government worksheet.

Shannon (author) from Florida on February 05, 2014:

@cleansweeping: Thank you so much!

cleansweeping on February 04, 2014:

This is a great resource!

Shannon (author) from Florida on October 18, 2013:

@kareybrown88: I'm so glad you've found my lessons to be helpful -- especially for a struggling teacher!

Shannon (author) from Florida on October 18, 2013:

@klipsanbeach: Thank you for visiting! Yes, I have benefited from many other teachers.

kareybrown88 on October 18, 2013:

I am an administrator looking for resources to help a struggling teacher. This will be a wealth of resources

klipsanbeach on October 06, 2013:

great source - love teachers that share -

Shannon (author) from Florida on September 22, 2013:

@haleyjduck: I'm so happy you've found my lessons to be helpful! Have a blessed year!

haleyjduck on September 22, 2013:

Love this. I'm a 5th year teacher, but a 1st year history teacher. It's like starting all over again. This info has already helped me tremendously.

Shannon (author) from Florida on March 08, 2013:

@DeborahDian: Thank you!

Deborah Carr from Orange County, California on March 07, 2013:

I am an instructional assistant in a history class. This is great information!

anonymous on March 07, 2013:

history is so much fun

Shannon (author) from Florida on December 26, 2012:

@pretyfunky: Thank you!

pretyfunky on December 24, 2012:

it's really interesting

Shannon (author) from Florida on December 10, 2012:

@mariacarbonara: Thank you!

mariacarbonara on December 10, 2012:

Great work and love the way you make it so interesting.

Shannon (author) from Florida on November 30, 2012:

@opatoday: Thank you!

opatoday on November 30, 2012:

I think that is a great lesson plan. Thanks :)

Shannon (author) from Florida on November 22, 2012:

@anonymous: Thank you so much!

anonymous on November 22, 2012:

You make the Thirteen Colonies come alive with such an abundance of ideas, I sure wish I'd had it available back in the days I was homeschooling my children, this is just excellent!

Shannon (author) from Florida on November 21, 2012:

@Ajeet: Thank you!

Ajeet on November 20, 2012:

I think that is an intelligent lesson plan. Thanks :)

Shannon (author) from Florida on November 19, 2012:

@myspace9: Thank you!

myspace9 on November 17, 2012:

Very deatiled and beautiful lens.

Shannon (author) from Florida on October 28, 2012:

@shellys-space: Thank you!

Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on October 28, 2012:

Nicely done and thanks for sharing your lesson plan for 8th Grade American History!

Shannon (author) from Florida on October 15, 2012:

@bbsoulful2: Thank you!

bbsoulful2 on October 15, 2012:

Great lesson plans! Blessed by a Squid Angel!

Shannon (author) from Florida on September 30, 2012:

@anonymous: Thank you!

anonymous on September 30, 2012:

Liked your ideas. Thank you. I teach history in DC

Shannon (author) from Florida on September 23, 2012:

@anonymous: Thank you!

anonymous on September 23, 2012:

A lot thank you very much.

Shannon (author) from Florida on September 20, 2012:

@CoolFool83: Thank you!

CoolFool83 on September 20, 2012:

Great history lesson!

Shannon (author) from Florida on September 03, 2012:

@RuralFloridaLiving: Thank you so much!

RuralFloridaLiving on September 02, 2012:

Wow - A ton of valuable teaching information here! Thanks for sharing.

Shannon (author) from Florida on September 01, 2012:

@anonymous: Thank you!

anonymous on August 31, 2012:

Great lens!

Shannon (author) from Florida on August 28, 2012:

@anonymous: I'm so glad you've found my lessons to be helpful!

anonymous on August 28, 2012:

thank you so much I have only read a few of your lesson plans and you saved me. I am always trying to make colonial government fun and you had some creative ideas!

Shannon (author) from Florida on July 31, 2012:

@JoshK47: Thank you so much!

JoshK47 on July 31, 2012:

Popping in to refresh the Angel Dust on this great lens!

Shannon (author) from Florida on July 25, 2012:

@WriterJanis2: Thank you!

WriterJanis2 on July 25, 2012:

This is a really good history resource.

Shannon (author) from Florida on July 02, 2012:

@coolmon2009 lm: Thank you!

coolmon2009 lm on July 02, 2012:

I love history, nice lens :)

Shannon (author) from Florida on June 26, 2012:

@sheezie77: Thank you!

sheezie77 on June 26, 2012:

I enjoy reading this lens! Well done

Deadicated LM on May 24, 2012:

Very much so, I love History, especially American History.

marsha32 on April 14, 2012:

My daughter will be 10th grade next year but I would so do these lessons with her even though you say they are for 8th grade! I've pinned this to my homeschool board on pinterest.

Eva Varga from Oregon on March 20, 2012:

I'm so glad I stumbled upon this ... we are doing the colonies right now! :)

Katie Harp on March 08, 2012:

blessed by a squid angel :) <3

TTMall on March 03, 2012:

It looks very helpful. Thank you very much!

KimGiancaterino on March 03, 2012:

I'm grateful for my excellent teachers, but even they were limited by time and mediocre textbooks. Your lesson plans make learning exciting for students of all ages.

teristazko on February 20, 2012:

Awesome information and great resources. Thank you for sharing!

frances lm on January 31, 2012:

Looks like a series of exciting lessons. Why don't children like learning more?

Fay Favored from USA on January 28, 2012:

This is one of my favorite units to teach. Thanks for all the materials.

VillaDejaBlue on January 11, 2012:

Nice lens.

vkumar05 on January 07, 2012:

Great work. Very educative..even for me. Thanks.

pawpaw911 on December 30, 2011:

Great lens. It is sad how little today's college students know about American History. Keep up the great work.

Lorna from USA on December 24, 2011:

Great lens, I have to visit here few times to soak in to these information. Thanks!

ProfDrJuan on November 30, 2011:

great lesson from very experience teacher.. Nice..

waldenthreenet on November 28, 2011:

American history Lesson plan for kids and adults like me ! Thanks.

JoshK47 on November 21, 2011:

Well planned out - great work on this. Blessed by a SquidAngel!

dellgirl on November 20, 2011:

Nice lens with lots of interesting information, very well put together.

dellgirl on November 20, 2011:

This is a very interesting lens, so well put together. Thank you for sharing this great information.

HubLens Admin on November 18, 2011:

Such a wealth of resources, books recommendations and lesson plan ideas - very thorough and I simply have to favorite this page for my kids. Thumbs up!

anonymous on November 08, 2011:

returning reader, enjoyed coming upon this again.

TXMary2 on November 05, 2011:

This is fabulous- I wish I had found it in August!

EducationInfo4U1 on November 01, 2011:

These are awesome ideas :) reminded me of how fun history class can be!

OldStones LM on November 01, 2011:

Lesson sound much more interesting than my 8th grade History class. I am not a teacher but a history buff, as such I enjoyed reading your lesson plan.

amy925 on October 05, 2011:

Wow! These lesson plans were very inspirational and helpful. I am a first year teacher. Your lesson plans and your class procedures and grading system is excellent. Thank you for taking the time and effort to share this. You are helping a lot of people!

anonymous on October 04, 2011:

Very educational, I'm a historian buff and I don't see many lens like this. Glad I browse upon your lens tonight. If you also like to browse lens as I do, mine has a great educational topic with poll questions for my readers to enjoy.

Shannon (author) from Florida on October 03, 2011:

@anonymous: Laura,

I'd love to provide the worksheets, but they're copyrighted. They are simply the worksheets that come with the the textbook. Hopefully you can find something similar on-line somewhere.

anonymous on October 03, 2011:

I really like your lessons! I was wondering if you are willing to provide some of the handouts and worksheets that you reference in your lessons?