Saturday, October 6, 2012

5th Grade Social Studies Unit 2: Discovery and Founding of North America (Colonists)

5th grade Social Studies unit 2 is about the early American colonists and pilgrims. This unit focuses on the journey, hardships, and early society that was developed when founding the initial colonies in America. This unit is listed in my Social Studies 9 Week Plans page, and has its own Unit Page. For convenience purposes, I will post the entire text of that unit here as well:

Unit 2 of 5th grade social studies covers the discovery and founding of America, focusing heavily on the colonists and pilgrims.

For me, time is usually a focus on this unit, because I like to spend more time on the American Revolution, and the 19th and 20th centuries.
With that in mind, I provide three days of instruction on the front end, familiarizing students with the topics and major events of this time period, then I hand over the learning to my students for some project based research.

The project students work on for this unit is a whole class collaboration that is presented in book form and titled "Colonial Life." The project is done in pairs, with each group preparing two pages "textbook style" on their topic.
What I mean by textbook style is a stylized presentation like that of most textbooks, in which the content, photos, illustrations, graphs, etc. all exist in the pages together.

I do not write up any student information handout for this, and they are graded on the simple research rubric that we utilize throughout the year (access the simple research rubric in either .pdf and .doc format).

The topics that students cover in their research include:

  • Colonial Towns: Buildings, layout, variety of towns, defenses.
  • Journey by Sea: How the colonists / pilgrims reached the America's, including challenges, living conditions, etc.
  • The 13 Colonies: A quick research on the original colonies, including founding dates, and a map of the original 13.
  • Crime & Punishment: The crimes that were most common, and their punishments.
  • Native Tribes: A quick research on the native tribes of the area, and their interactions with the colonists.
  • Religion in the Colonies: How religion influenced life and politics in the colonies. Also, what religion meant on a day-by-day basis to the colonists.
  • Colonial Food: How they grew food, and what the typical colonial meal looked like.
  • The Lost Colony of Roanoke: This topic fascinates many students, so I have a group take a look at its history and present some pages on it.
I'm going to present a few links to assist teachers and students alike in research or teaching of the colonial era of American history:
Finally, watch these videos in succession. These are taken from the America: The Story of Us documentary series.

Again, we normally pace this unit fairly quickly. Each group of students is responsible for a two page contribution to our "Colonial Life" book. Finally, if you like how your books turn out, head over to Student Treasures, and order a few free publishing kits. This company will make a free classroom hardbound copy of the book, and your only obligation is to send home a letter to your parents asking them to buy a copy of the classroom book. There are no buying requirements, and the classroom hardbound copy is free regardless of how many parents order. It's a great opportunity that we'll be taking advantage of.

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