European Exploration of the Americas
Students are introduced to the Age of Discovery. They learn about early European exploration of the Americas—which nations led the way, the regions they explored, and the motivations behind their exploration.
The Columbian Exchange: Exploration and the Environment
Students learn about the Columbian Exchange, the many biological and cultural exchanges between the Old and New Worlds. They learn how Native American survival was directly dependent on the environment, then they read about the Columbian Exchange and its impact on life in both the Americas and Europe. Students then work in small groups to research specific resources that were part of the exchange and describe and evaluate the impact of each one.
The Geography of the Early Colonies
Students learn the locations of the Spanish, French, British, and Dutch colonies in the seventeenth century. They explore how the geography affected each group of colonies. Finally, they consider what factors they would weigh if they were to settle in a new colony.
Students learn the main characteristics and motivations of the Spanish colonies in the Americas. They are introduced to the practice of encomienda, a forerunner of slavery in the Americas, and they examine how Bartoleme de las Pasas changed his views on this social issue.
The Transatlantic Slave Trade
Students learn how the establishment of European colonies led to the rise of the transatlantic slave trade. They are introduced to the concept of triangular trade. They work with the Voyages: Transatlantic Slave Database to analyze data related to the slave trade.
French and Dutch Colonization
Students learn the main characteristics and motivations of the French and Dutch colonies in the Americas. They compare and contrast the two colonies, and they explore the alliances with the American Indians.
Students learn about the last European country to establish a colony in North America, England. They learn about the first English settlement, known today as the "Lost Colony." Then they explore the reasons for British colonization, including a primary source document. Finally, they consider why the British colonies were able to survive where the Spanish, French, and Dutch failed.
Students learn about key events in the history of Jamestown: the Starving Time, the rise of tobacco plantations, and Bacon's Rebellion. They sequence events and consider the settlement's impact on the environment.
Students learn about early examples of democratic and representative governments in the colonies: the House of Burgesses, the Mayflower Compact, and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.
The New England Colonies and Religious Freedom
Students learn to distinguish between the Pilgrims and the Puritans, and focus on their religious motivations for coming to the New World. They are introduced to Roger Williams and Thomas Hooker, and they state an opinion if the New England colonies should be considered a symbol of religious freedom or not.
Conflict Between Settlers and Native Americans
Students examine some of the reasons for conflict between settlers and Native Americans. They learn how the relationship was complex and changed over time and by location. They identify a modern issue in order to address how different worldviews can cause conflict among groups.
The Middle Colonies
Students learn about the Middle Colonies: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, focusing on the human and physical geography of the region. Then they choose either William Penn or Benjamin Franklin and elaborate on the contributions made by the person.
The Southern Colonies
Students learn about four of the Southern Colonies: Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia. They focus on the physical and human geography and the variances within the colonies. They examine how the environment and economic development contributed to the spread of slavery throughout the South.
The Great Awakening
Students learn about the First Great Awakening, its impact on colonial society, and it role as a long-term cause of the American Revolution. They are introduced to Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Phillis Wheatley.
Colonial Arts and Literature
Students explore three areas of colonial arts: visual art, literature, and music. They work in small groups to research and prepare a presentation of a specific topic. After the presentations, students reflect on how art does more than reflect culture—it can also influence ideas and society. They rate their presentations and the small group collaboration using a rubric.
The Life of a Slave
Students review the rise of slavery in the American colonies. They work in small groups to focus on a primary source—a first-person narrative or a photograph—in order to learn about life as a slave, and they reflect on the value of primary sources as a tool for learning history.
Students learn about the economic philosophy of mercantilism and its effect on the American colonies. They explore how the British enforced this policy on the colonies, and how the colonists responded.
Students explore the emergence of self-government in colonial America. They learn about influences from Europe, early examples of self-government in the colonies, and the structure of government in the thirteen colonies in the 1700s.