Third Grade - American History - Overview - February

 This month's topic, the Southern Colonies, is a continuation of last month's subject matter. The material is covered in both lessons and performance assessment practice tasks. The lessons should be completed before the tasks and ideally the tasks should be completed in the numbered sequence. While knowledge of the content of these lessons is not necessary for success in the five performance assessment tasks, familiarity with the subject matter will aid in the children's understanding. While completing the History tasks the students will be reading for information and writing for personal expression. While the tasks may be used out of sequence, they are best completed in the order given.

 Third Grade - American History - Lesson 20 - Jamestown


Identify that the English started the first permanent settlement in the New World at Jamestown, VA.


Classroom-size map of the United States

1 per student

"Viewpoints on History" worksheet (attached)

Adapted from Cultures in Contact. The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. Williamsburg, VA.


Suggested Books

Teacher Reference

Fradin, Dennis B. The Virginia Colony. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1986.

Hakim, Joy. Making Thirteen Colonies: A History of US. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.



Remind the students that as we learned in previous lessons the colonists who came to America from Europe came for a variety of reasons. Ask: What are some of the reasons colonists came to the New World? (economic reasons--could not find work in Europe, could not afford to own land in Europe; human rights reasons--wanted the freedom to practice their chosen religion) What troubles did they have when they first arrived? (find food, establish good relations with the Native Americans, provide shelter)

Tell the students that the colonies that have been studied so far have been in two regions of the United States. Ask: What two regions have been discussed so far? (New England and the Middle Atlantic) Explain that we are now going to look at the development of the southern colonies. Tell the students that the original colonies that were located in the South were Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia. Ask a student to locate these colonies on the map. Ask: What do these colonies geographically have in common? (They all have a coastline.) Ask the students to recall that only one of the thirteen colonies did not have a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. Have a student name and locate that colony on the map (Pennsylvania). Ask: Why was it important for a colony to be located with access to the ocean? (trade and transportation)

Tell the students that the first southern colony we are going to look at is the colony of Virginia. Point to Virginia on the map. Tell the students that in 1607, three ships that were owned by a company called the London Company sailed from England to Virginia. They first arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and sailed up a river now called the James River, which empties into the Chesapeake. Show the students this area on the map.

Explain that the travelers had been given the instructions to look for gold or a river route to Asia when they arrived. The colonists named the place in Virginia where they landed "Jamestown," after James I, the king of England. Write Jamestown on the board. Explain that Jamestown was the first continuous English colony in America, which means that although other people had explored parts of the New World no other group of people had built a community that was long lasting.

Explain to the students that the Virginia colonists had a rough time surviving in the New World. About half of the colonists died in the first year. Tell the students that some were killed by germs and disease that had been carried from England, others starved to death, and still others were killed by Native Americans who felt threatened by the English people moving onto their land.

Explain that without one person named John Smith the colony might not have survived. John Smith was one of the leaders at Jamestown. Tell the students that Smith began trading with the Powhatan Indians and befriended a Powhatan Indian princess named Pocahontas. Write the words Powhatan and Pocahontas on the board. Explain that Pocahontas convinced her father several times to be kind to the settlers and there are legends that say that Pocahontas even saved John Smith's life. The legend says that Pocahontas saved John Smith by placing her own head on top of Smith's head so Powhatan warriors would not behead him. Explain that it is thought today that Pocahontas didn't actually save Smith's life, but that the rescue was part of a prearranged ceremony or that John Smith might have exaggerated the story.

Tell the students that later John Smith was badly injured and needed to return to England. Hard times fell on the Jamestown colonists after Smith's departure. Explain that the hard time the colonists faced was called the Starving Time. Read the following excerpt from Making Thirteen Colonies by Joy Hakim to the students:

 What happened? Some historians say the Starving Time was an Indian war against the English invaders. Powhatan may have decided to get rid of the settlers by starving them. He wouldn't trade with them. He laid siege to Jamestown. That means armed Indians wouldn't let anyone in or out. The settlers couldn't hunt or fish. They could hardly get to their chickens and pigs. The settlers ate the animals that were inside the stockade--without much sharing. That made the others who were not able to eat very angry. Soon there was nothing for anyone to eat. 

Ask: Why do you think the Powhatan Indians tried to starve the colonists? The Native Americans did not want the colonists to stay. Explain that by building on the land that once belonged to the Native Americans, the colonists were driving away the animals that the Native Americans hunted for food and hides.

Give each student a copy of the "Viewpoints on History" worksheet from the Cultures in Contact booklet produced by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation in Williamsburg, VA. Read aloud the introduction as the students follow along. Tell the students that the word primary means first and source means from where something came, so a primary source is an original document (a diary, a letter, a poster) about a particular time period written by a person who lived during that time period.

Next, read the excerpt from George Percy's journal. You may wish to have the students answer the questions below the excerpt individually or you may wish to discuss the questions as a group and write the students' responses on the board.

 Third Grade - American History - Lesson 21 - The Development of Plantations


Review information regarding the Virginia colony.

Distinguish between indentured servants and slaves.


Classroom-size world map

 Suggested Books

Fradin, Dennis B. The Virginia Colony. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1986.

Hakim, Joy. Making Thirteen Colonies: A History of US. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Kent, Deborah. African-Americans in the Thirteen Colonies. New York: Children's Press, 1996.


Review with the students information about the settlement at Jamestown: the problems encountered by the colonists, John Smith's role, the Starving Time. Ask: Do you remember what the colonists were originally looking for in America? (a route to Asia and gold) Tell the students that the colonists were not able to find either of these things, but the Virginia colonists did discover something that made them a good deal of money--growing and selling tobacco.

Explain to the students that tobacco was a plant that was grown and the leaves of which when dried could be put in a pipe and smoked. When tobacco was introduced to Europeans it became very popular. King James of England said "Smoking is a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs," but many Europeans didn't pay attention to his comment and there became a demand for tobacco.

Tell the students that there were two main problems tobacco growers were faced with: it takes hard fieldwork to grow tobacco and the English gentleman did not want to work in the tobacco fields. Write the two problems on the board. Ask: How do you think the colonists solved their need for laborers? Accept reasonable answers.

Explain that servants and other workers were very valuable in Virginia. The more workers a farmer had, the more tobacco he could grow, the more tobacco he had the more he was able to sell and the richer the farmer got. Write the following on the board.

more tobacco plants
more tobacco to sell
more money for the farmer

Put an asterisk next to the worker. Explain that the workers were a very important part of the process because the workers were needed to plant, take care of, and harvest the tobacco plants.

Tell the students that the colonists in Virginia did everything they could to get people to come to America. Draw two lines down from the word worker on the board. Write indentured servants under one line. Explain that many people came to Virginia as indentured servants. Explain that indentured servants were people who couldn't afford to pay their boat fare to the New World, so they would travel to the New World and when they arrived whoever paid their boat fare became their master. The indentured servant would then work to pay off his debt to his master. Tell the students that they worked four to seven years before they were free. Explain that some indentured servants were treated very poorly, but after their time of indenture they were free and had usually gained skills that helped them to find employment.

Tell the students that there were also slaves. Write the word slave under the second line

on the board. Explain that Africans first arrived in Virginia in 1619 on a Dutch ship. Tell the students that these first Africans were treated the same as indentured slaves. Tobacco farm owners bought the Africans from the ship's captains. After several years of working for the farm owners they became free.

Explain that slavery later came about when some colonists got the idea to make the Africans they bought into slaves instead, so that they would not have to keep buying workers. Ask: Why would this be better for the farm owner's business. Explain that the difference between indentured servants and slaves was that slaves were the property of their owners, whereas indentured servants were working to pay their debt to their owners and to become free.

Read the following from African-Americans in the Thirteen Colonies by Deborah Kent. aloud to the students:

Close your eyes and imagine you are sound asleep in your home. All of a sudden, a bunch of men burst into your room and kidnap you. You are placed in chains and sent on a long journey to America as a lifetime servant for a white settler. This actually happened to many men, women, and children who became slaves in the American colonies. Conditions on the slave ships were horrible. Since money was so important, slave traders almost always tried to bring as many people to the Americas as possible. Africans were packed in the cargo hold of ships. Many slaves even died at sea.

Tell the students that the trip from Africa to America was not a pleasant one. Explain that the longest part of the journey on the slave ships from West Africa to the West Indies was called the Middle Passage. Trace the Middle Passage across the Atlantic Ocean between those two points on the world map.

 Third Grade - American History - Lesson 22 - Slavery in the Colonies


Compare the colonies of South Carolina and Georgia.


Classroom-size map of the United States

 Suggested Books

Hakim, Joy. Making Thirteen Colonies: A History of US. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Kent, Deborah. African-Americans in the Thirteen Colonies. New York: Children's Press, 1996. Reische, Diana. Founding the American Colonies. New York: Franklin Watts, 1989.



Ask: What was the difference between an indentured servant and a slave? (After the indentured servant paid back his/her debt the indentured servant was free, whereas the slave was the property of his or her master.) Tell the students that as the farm owners gained more and more slave workers they were able to farm larger areas of land. The very large farms became known as plantations. Write the word plantation on the board.

Explain that plantation owners became very rich because of the slaves that worked their fields for them so they favored slavery. Tell the students that on the other hand there were many people during this time who did not believe in the practice of slavery. Explain that the next two colonies they will be discussing had very different ideas regarding slavery.

Tell the students that first they will take a look at the colony of South Carolina, the capital of which became Charleston. Locate South Carolina and Charleston on a U. S. map. Explain that many of the people that settled Charleston came from the island of Barbados in the Caribbean Sea. Tell the students that slavery was a common practice on Barbados, so the settlers from Barbados were used to owning slaves and they wanted slaves in America. Ask: Why do you think they wanted to be able to own slaves in America? Explain that they wanted slaves in America because they needed people to work on the large plantations that developed around Charleston. Unlike Virginia, the main crops in South Carolina were rice and indigo. Explain that indigo was a plant that was grown for its blue dye. Tell the students that both rice and indigo, like tobacco needed many workers to tend and harvest the crops.

Tell the students that the next colony they are going to hear about is the colony of Georgia, which was founded in 1733. Explain that in the beginning, the colony of Georgia was different from other southern colonies. Its founder James Oglethorpe wanted to establish Georgia as a place where debtors could go instead of going to jail. Explain that in England people who couldn't pay their bills were thrown into debtor's prison where they stayed until a relative or friend came up with the money to pay their debts.

He also wanted to make Georgia a place where people could lead ideal lives. In an effort to accomplish this, he made slavery and drinking alcohol illegal. Ask: What other rules could Oglethorpe have made for his community? Oglethorpe planned for settlers to live on small farms, not big plantations, and do their own farming. Ask: Do you think Oglethorpe had a good idea? Why?

Explain that unfortunately, James Oglethorpe's plan didn't last for long. Over time the colonists wanted to have rice plantations and slaves and they got their way--slavery became legal in Georgia in 1750. Ask: Why do you think the colonists wanted to change the way they lived?

(It was more profitable to have slaves farm large amounts of land.)

Give each student a sheet of white-lined paper. Ask the students to imagine that they have been given a large piece of land on which to start a new community. Tell the students that they are to write at least two paragraphs describing what their ideal community would be like and what rules they would establish in their community to accomplish this. Write the following suggestions of what could be included in their paragraphs (add others that you feel are appropriate):

The rules you would have in your community.

Who would live in your community.

What the people in your community would do for a living.



Fradin, Dennis B. The Virginia Colony. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1986. (0-516-00387-9)

Hakim, Joy. Making Thirteen Colonies: A History of US. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. (0-669-36833-4)

Kent, Deborah. African-Americans in the Thirteen Colonies. New York: Children's Press, 1996.(0-516-06631-5)

Reische, Diana. Founding the American Colonies. New York: Franklin Watts, 1989. (0-531-10686-1)