First Colonies: American History for Elementary

We read books about three of the first American Colonies.

After studying Native American History last year, we began learning about American History after contact with the Europeans. Once America had been discovered by the Vikings and rediscovered by Columbus, Europeans began to come. Eventually they had contact with Native Americans.

I enjoyed the way the book Encounter by Jane Yolen tells of one such encounter from the Native American perspective.

It wasn't long before Europeans began building settlements in America. Roanoke, Jamestown and Plymouth were three Early American Settlements with very different stories.

Roanoke: The Lost Colony - Roanoke will forever be known as The Lost Colony. During the days of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh was authorized to start a colony in America, but due to ill preparation and a political war between the English and Spain the people disappeared. What happened to the colony remains a mystery.

Pocahontas has long been hailed an American hero. Jamestown was another early attempt at colonization by the English which would not have been successful without the help of Pocahontas. She not only saved the life of Captain John Smith, but warned the colonists of threats by her people. To the Native Americans she may have been considered a traitor, but to the Americans she was a hero. I think this is an interesting discussion point to help young children begin to take a more objective look at historical publications.

Who's that Stepping on Plymouth Rock? - Plymouth was the colony of the Pilgrims and made famous by the traditional Thanks Giving story. These early colonists were helped by another Native American, Squanto. The Pilgrims were a group of separatists who came to America seeking religious freedom. The group, consisting mainly of wealthy citizens, were ill-prepared for life in America. Despite the teachings of our traditional Thanks Giving story, further research reveals how these early Americans nearly starved to death because of the political principals of their colony. It is important for young elementary students to know of the existence of the colony, so that when they get into a more in depth study of American History, they can better put the events of history into context. This book, centered on the story of the rock, is a fun introduction for young students.

Check out these great blog hops for more educational activity ideas.

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