Colonial America Kaleidoscope

Grade Levels: 3 - 5


  • Students will list and choose topics about colonial America.
  • Students will write questions to organize their thinking.
  • Students will use many resources to help answer their questions.
  • Students will evaluate their resources to be sure that they are accurate.
  • Students will organize their research.
  • Students will create projects that reflect life in colonial America.


  • Reference materials about colonial America or access to the Internet


  1. Engage students in a discussion about colonial America.
  2. Help students create a list of topic ideas about colonial America.
  3. If necessary, start the brainstorming list by including such topics as everyday life in the colonies, colonial art, and colonial government.
  4. Gather print resources for students to use in conjunction with their Internet research.
  5. Invite each student to choose a topic, or you may want students to work in groups.
  6. Have them follow the following procedure:
    1. Question – Write questions to reflect what you want to know.
    2. Search – Use various resources to answer the questions.
    3. Analyze – Evaluate the accuracy of online resources.
    4. Compose – Create a presentation or product.
    5. Share – Share the product or presentation.
  7. Help students finalize their topic ideas and write questions to guide their research.
  8. Point out that their research may produce additional questions.
  9. Encourage them to use these new questions to provide additional guidance with their research.
  10. Remind students to use a variety of resources to find answers to their questions.
  11. Have students organize their findings in preparation for Colonial Kaleidoscope Day.
  12. Offer students several ideas for presenting the information they learned. For example:
    • Prepare a speech or stage a debate about an issue in history based on your findings.
    • Create a museum display about some aspect of life in colonial America. Make sure that all your objects or artifacts have captions explaining why you included them.
    • Take the role of a person who lived during the time – community member, politician, militia member, and so on – and explain what your life is like. Show important objects and artifacts from "your" life.
    • Create an illustrated timeline, movie, or some other multimedia presentation.
    • Display and share students' work at the Colonial Kaleidoscope.
    • Students may enjoy creating a "virtual tour" of a place that is important in the study of colonial America (e.g., Jamestown, Williamsburg, a farm or plantation). The virtual tour of the mansion at Mount Vernon may help students get started. Students' virtual tours could include photographs retrieved from the Internet or print sources, along with descriptions of the various places in the order in which visitors would see them.

Standards Correlations

    National Technology Education Standards

  • Students will develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.
  • Students will use productivity tools to collaborate in constructing technology-enhanced models, preparing publications, and producing other creative works.
  • Students will use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.

    National Social Studies Education Standards

  • Students will identify and describe significant historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures.
  • Students will employ processes of critical historical inquiry to reconstruct and interpret the past, such as using a variety of sources and checking their credibility, validating and weighing evidence for claims, and searching for causality.
  • Students will apply ideas, theories, and modes of historical inquiry to analyze historical and contemporary developments.

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Use the following checklist to evaluate students' work in completing this lesson:

_____ Student writes topical questions to guide research.

_____ Student chooses appropriate sources to answer the questions.

_____ Student organizes information and takes notes without plagiarizing.

_____ Student analyzes resources to be sure that they are accurate and appropriate for the research.

_____ Student draws valid conclusions about life in colonial America and supports those conclusions with facts.

_____ Student prepares an organized presentation or product that shows extensive knowledge of the topic.

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