Saturday, February 26, 2011

Colonial Life Resouces

Here is a list of resources for teaching about Colonial America:

DeFord, D. (2004). Life in the thirteen colonies Pennsylvania. New York: Scholastic

This book covers the history of the founding of the Pennsylvania colony up until the time it becomes a state. It also gives information about the way of life for the colonists. Life in the Thirteen Colonies is a series of books that would be useful for students to use for research. The book ends with a recipe, an activity, a time line, a further reading list, and a glossary.

Bowen, G. (1994). Stranded at Plimoth plantation 1626. New York: HarperCollins Publishers

This book is written as a daily diary of Christopher Sears. While this is a fictional story, it is based on historical accounts from 1626 and 1627. It provides the reader with a look at life in Plimoth.

Carlson, L. (1997). Colonial kids. Chicago: Chicago Review Press

This is an activity book filled with art projects, games, and recipes from colonial times. Each activity explains how it was used or was important in colonial times.

Fradin, D. B. (1990). The Connecticut colony. Chicago: Children’s Press

This is one book in a series on the colonies. The book discusses the Native Americans who lived in the colony before Europeans came, the first colonists to arrive, and the colonial wars. There are also several biographies of important people in the colony. The book ends with a timeline.

Walker, S. M. (2009). Written in bone. Minneapolis: Carolrboda Books

This book follows archeologists as they uncover skeletons and artifacts from Jamestown and colonial Maryland. It also shows the foundations of a church and pictures of its restoration. The book ends with a further reading list and a timeline.

Warner, J. F. (1993). Colonial american home life. New York: Franklin Watts.

This book is all about daily life of the colonists. It includes chapters on homes, clothing, food, work, and school. The book is full of prints that had been created during the time. The end of the book provides a glossary and a bibliography.

This website, created by the Library of Congress, offers children information about the history of America. The section about Colonial America offers several stories of famous people and events from the time period.


This website is full of useful information on topics including history, geography, government, holidays, time lines, religions, languages, and more. This website would be easy for students to navigate to find information for several purposes. The section on Colonial Times offers pages on each specific colony as well as characteristics of the colonies in general.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Using Historical Fiction: Chains

Historical Fiction: The genre of historical fiction in the field of children’s literature includes stories that are written to portray a time period or convey information about a specific time period or a historical event.

Chains is an emotional book about the life of a slave girl during the time of the Revolutionary War. The author weaves in real events and historical figures to create a story that is interesting and educational.

However that does mean that teachers need to be aware of what is fact and what is fiction. As you read this book with your students have them keep a list of things that are fact, fiction, and things that they are not sure of. This will give you opportunities to branch off into research topics.

Beware: this book is a bit heavy! There is a lot going on all at once. Make sure you have plenty of discussion and writing opportunities. It may be a good idea to do some drama with the scenes and discuss what the characters are thinking and feeling.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cultural Artifacts

Cultural Artifact: a term used for anything created by humans which gives information about the culture of its creator and users.

If a picture speaks a thousand words, how many words are spoken by an object? We are not defined by our possessions however they do say a lot about who we are. They speak of our beliefs, our passions, and our way of life. When we look back at artifacts left from ancient civilizations we see their cultural remains, remnants of a life once lived.

How can we take this experience of exploring a past culture and make it a modern day exercise of discovery? Having students bring in personal items that have true meaning to them can be a great way of sharing who they are with their classmates. This can also give them an opportunity to reflect upon what is important to them and what things speak of who they are and what they believe.

Above you see a picture of the items that were brought into my college class when doing this exercise. Can you see something about who we are as a group? Do you see our similarities and our differences? What are our objects speaking about who we are?