I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.
This is part 1 of a 4 part hands-on unit on America's Early Settlers. Build a waddle and daub house like they did in Jamestown, dress as cavaliers and hunt for gold, cook and taste gruel, and more! My lessons are geared toward 2nd-3rd grade level children and their siblings. These are lessons I created to do with a weekly co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 14 children between the ages of 0-12. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, family, after school program, or co-op!
*We will be working with mud. Please have your child(ren) dress appropriately and bring a change of clothing for your child(ren), towel(s), and some plastic bags.*
1. Stretch. Pray. Discuss Proverbs 28:19
2. Go through life of John Smith using pictures and selected stories from John Smith Escapes Again! by Rosalyn Schanzer.
3. Look at pictures of Jamestown using 1607: A New Look at Jamestown by Karen Lange.
Cavaliers & Workmen = Gold & Gruel
4. (Begin boiling water while the children listen to the story of John Smith. Boil 1/2 a cup of water for every child. If you have 14 children, boil 7 cups of water.) There were only a few people accustomed to hard work who first came to Jamestown. Since McDonald’s didn’t exist yet, someone hard to make the food while the most of the people, the cavaliers, searched for gold. A common dish they would eat for every meal was gruel. Make gruel by allowing each child to put a teaspoon of quick oats into the pot of hot water (water that has been boiling & has just been removed from the stove). Set this aside to cool.
-Tell the children that you heated the water over the stove. Ask the children how they would have heated it back then. (Over a fire.) What would they need for the fire? (Wood. They would have had to cut down trees to start the fire.) Ask, “How would they get the water?” (They would have to get it from nearby rivers.) It took a lot of work just to make a simple meal. Unfortunately, most of the people in Jamestown didn’t want to do this work. Ask the children, “How did most of the cavaliers want to spend their time?” (Finding gold.)
-Have children move on to next activity while you serve the gruel into individual cups for both children and adults. Add a spoon to each cup. Have additional cups available if children want water.
(The first time we did this lesson, we followed the authentic recipe for gruel found at medievalplus.com. The above recipe is much simpler and tastes the same.)
YOU WILL NEED: 1 tsp. oatmeal per child, 1 teaspoon (measuring spoon), 1 saucepan, 1 liquid measure cup, 1 wooden spoon, water, 1 small disposable cup per child & adult, & 1 disposable spoon per child & adult
Cavaliers & Workmen = Gold & Gruel
5. Many of the people who went to Jamestown were cavaliers, who were from wealthy families and were hoping to find gold. They didn’t want to do any hard work. They just wanted to find gold and become rich. First decorate a cavalier hat using a large sheet of construction paper and following these directions to make an origami hat. Tape a few “plumes” (craft feathers) to the hat.
YOU WILL NEED: large sheet of construction paper (the kind that is about double the size of a regular sheet of construction paper) per child, 2 colorful craft feathers per child, tape, & an example of the hat
6. Before we set out to find gold, have the “cavaliers” eat their gruel. (It is not going to be very tasty.) Tell them that you sure hope they find lots of gold so that they can buy better food. Otherwise, they’re going to starve if this is all they have to eat.
7. Have the children wear their cavalier hats and walk around the outside of the house looking for gold. (There will be none to find of course.) When they return inside the house, ask if they found any gold. The men of Jamestown didn’t, either. Ask if they remember what was going to happen if they didn’t find gold. Yes, they would starve because they didn’t want to work and they didn’t have gold to buy food. Finally John Smith told the cavaliers a Bible verse: “He who does not work will not eat.” Ask the children what that means. If John Smith hadn’t forced them to work, they would have starved to death.
8. Explain that the men at Jamestown were not the only people living in Virginia. Ask the children who else would be living there. (The Native Americans). Read story of Pocahontas: The True Story of Pocahontas by Lucille Penner.
9. (While children are listening to the story of Pocahontas, slice 2 of the 3 persimmon fruits. Leave one whole to show the children.) Let the children try persimmon, a favorite fruit of Pocahontas. After showing the fruit, slice it up for the adults to try.
YOU WILL NEED: a cutting board, a knife, & 3 persimmons (which are a type of fruit)
10. Act out Pocahontas saving John Smith's life. Teacher/Mom narrates what occurred as the children act out the parts. The parts will include Powhatan chief, John Smith, 3 Powhatan Warriors, Pocahontas, & the rest of the children will be Powhatan natives.
YOU WILL NEED: a feather headband and cape (such as an animal print bed sheet) for the Powhatan chief, a helmet (a cavalier hat minus the feathers) for John Smith, 3 toy baseball bats for clubs for Powhatan Warriors, 1 feather (can be made out of construction paper) taped to each child's forehead for all the Powhatan natives, 1 special construction paper feather for Pocahontas, 2 pillows for rocks, and any additional props you would like to add
11. Review what we have learned so far. Tell the children that if they would like to make a miniature paper version of Jamestown for homework, they can do that and bring it in for a prize next week.
Miniature Wattle and Daub House
12. Now we’re going to make homes the real way the men in Jamestown had to make them. It took a lot of work. They couldn’t buy the materials from Lowes. They had to collect it from the forests, ground, and rivers. Take the children outside to make a miniature wattle and daub house just like they made them in Jamestown. We used the pictures from this blog as a guide.
TEACHER/PARENT 1: YOU WILL NEED: See "Wattle and Daub House: 2 Options" section below
13. Review what we learned and remind the children about the optional homework. It will be optional because it is a fairly tedious project.
Wattle and Daub House - 2 Options
Option 1: Get messy outside (and learn the most):
The night before the co-op we collected 2 wheelbarrows full of as clay-like dirt as we have. We mowed down an area of tall weeds for the daub. We cut down most of a Crape Myrtle tree, which had lots of straight branches we could use. We also tried collecting some fallen branches from other trees, but they were too brittle.
For the co-op I divided the children into 4 groups: tilling the plot of land (taking shovels and turning over the soil where we were going to build our house), water gathers (collecting buckets of water from the nearby river = our hose), hay gathers (collecting the cut weeds), and branch preparers (pulling the leaves and small twigs off the branches). When those jobs were finished, everyone held a main post stick (about 2 1/2 feet tall and 1 inch thick) in place in the approximately 20x20inch square plot of land that had been tilled. We had 12 posts in total, 4 on each side. While one group held up their sticks on that side, the other kids scooped up dirt around the main post sticks and packed the dirt in until the post sticks could stand on their own. The sticks were approximately 5 inches deep into the ground. I assigned each group one side and then they took the smaller twigs and weaved them in and out along their 4 main post sticks. Then we hand-mixed the clay, water, and hay together and packed it on the wattle (sticks) again on their assigned side of the house.
I was amazed that the boys did NOT want to get messy, but the girls had a great time squishy together everything. I don't think everyone would say they had a great time (one child broke out into tears over getting muddy), but it will certainly be a memorable time of "hard" work.
Afterward we cleaned up some at the water hose and then everyone changed (boys in the garage and girls on the back patio).
Option 2: Less Messy Craft Project:
If the real deal sounds too overwhelming (or if you have a strict home owners association), a miniature craft project might be in order instead.
-Inedible craft project: Use craft foam for the ground (sold in the floral department at Wal-Mart). Use popsicle sticks for the main posts and toothpicks for the twigs. Mix flour/water paste with shredded paper or grass clippings for the daub. Someone else said they used homemade oatmeal play-dough for the daub, but they had to throw the house away a week later as it goes bad if not refrigerated. Consider a pulp recipe for paper mache, compared the traditional liquid you dip the paper into. If you can get some grass/hay-like material you could add it to it to make it a bit thicker (take less time to fill in the waddle). They sell all sorts of grassy type products at craft stores or you can use not fresh grass clippings from your yard.
-Edible version: Use a 13x9 inch cake as a base. Insert pretzel rods for the vertical logs and use pretzel sticks for the horizontal logs. Use rice kirispie treats for the clay and mix it with shredded coconut for the hay.
How We Built Our Wattle and Daub House
More Great Picture Books We Enjoyed
We also enjoyed reading:
- Pocahontas: Princess of the New World by Kathleen Krull (a good picture book overall as far as information goes and fanciful illustrations that kept the attention of my younger girls),
- Pocahontas: Peacemaker and Friend to the Colonists by Pamela Hill Nettleton (a short picture book bio great for preschoolers or kindergartners),
- Pocahontas by Caryn Jenner (a DK reader)
- Pocahontas by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire (which is a longer picture book with some historical inaccuracies).
- Chapter Books: My 2nd grade level son enjoyed reading the chapter book, John Smith (World Explorer Books) by Charles Parlin Graves, and my 1st grade level daughter enjoyed reading Pocahontas: Young Peacemaker (Childhood of Famous Americans) by Leslie Gourse. (She read every other page.)
Material List for the Lesson
(This material list was written to include the messier wattle and daub activity option.)
*Everyone needs to bring per child:
-Have your child wear clothing that can get muddy.
-scotch tape (1 roll per family)
-shovel or trowel (optional)
-a change of clothing for your child(ren) to go home in
-towel for child(ren) when they change
-plastic bag to hold muddy clothing
*Items to be assigned to individuals:
-Books: John Smith Escapes Again! by Rosalyn Schanzer, 1607: A New Look at Jamestown by Karen Lange, The True Story of Pocahontas by Lucille Penner
- 1 tsp. oatmeal per child
-1 teaspoon (measuring spoon)
-1 liquid measure cup
-1 wooden spoon
-2 small disposable cups per child & adult
-1 disposable spoon per child & adult
-large sheet of construction paper (the kind that is about double the size of a regular sheet of construction paper) per child
-2 colorful craft feathers (not plain feathers) per child
-an example of the cavalier hat
-1 persimmon for every 8 people (children and adults)
-a cutting board
-a feather headband and cape (such as an animal print bed sheet) for the Powhatan chief
-a helmet (a cavalier hat minus the feathers) for John Smith
-3 toy baseball bats for clubs for Powhatan Warriors
-1 special construction paper feather for Pocahontas
-1 feather (can be made out of construction paper) for each child that doesn’t have a different part
-2 pillows for rocks
-any additional props you would like to add
Free Lapbook & Computer Game Options
Build a waddle and daub house like they did in Jamestown, create pilgrim costumes, set up a beaver trading post as you study Dutch settlers, cook a batch of William Penn's applesauce, perform a play on the Pilgrims, eat a semi-authentic Thanksgiving feast, and more during this fun 4 lesson unit study on Early American Settlers.
- Jamestown Lesson - This is part 1 of a 4 part hands-on unit on America's Early Settlers. Build a waddle and daub house like they did in Jamestown, dress as cavaliers and hunt for gold, cook and taste gruel, and more!
- Pilgrims Lesson - This is part 2 of a 4 part hands-on unit on America's Early Settlers. Create pilgrim costumes, make stewed pompion (pumpkin), plant corn, and more!
- Dutch and Swede Settlers of Early America Lesson - This is part 3 of a 4 part hands-on unit on Early American Settlers. Make butter, bake authentic Dutch Christmas cookies, set up a beaver trading post, build log cabins out of craft sticks, and more!
- William Penn and Thirteen Colonies Lesson - This is part 4 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Early American Settlers. Cook a batch of Dutch applesauce, match up the Thirteen Colonies, and make costumes to prepare for the Thanksgiving Presentation.
- Thanksgiving Feast, Children's Play, & Authentic Recipes - This is the end of the unit activity for a 4 week hands-on unit on Early American Settlers. Eat a feast (complete with authentic dishes), perform a fun Thanksgiving play, and sing a Psalm (just as the Pilgrims did for their Thanksgiving feasts). Authentic and semi-authentic recipes are included!
YouTube Clips We Enjoyed
(Also look for video clips from "Jamestown Against All Odds," though it does have some graphic scenes you might not want younger kids to see.)
Would you like to teach this way every day?
I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful curriculum and was created by moms with active boys!
If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!
© 2011 Shannon
Why Do You Think Pocahontas Saved John Smith's Life? - Or just leave me a note. I love getting feedback from you!
ryokomayuka from USA on June 29, 2012:
Because she was smart and because it was a good thing to do.
norma-holt on December 20, 2011:
Love your hands on approach in these lesson modules. Hugs
anonymous on November 18, 2011:
What a wonderful adventure in learning!