Lesson details


Social Studies

English Language Arts



Inquiry-Based Literacy

Reading - Informational Text



Develop inquiry plan

Employ a critical stance

England's Colonies

Examine context to broaden inquiry

Gather/evaluate information from primary/secondary sources

Language, Craft and Structure-Select/employ craft techniques

Language, Craft, and Structure-Analyze impact of text features/structures

Language, Craft, and Structure-Analyze/evaluate argument/claims

Meaning and Context-Engage in a range of collaborative discussions

Meaning and Context-Gather relevant information from diverse sources

Meaning and Context-Prepare for and engage in conversations

Meaning and Context-Provide objective summary

Meaning and Context-Utilize multimedia

Organize/categorize information

Recommended Technology: 

Computers/tablets with internet access
Google Earth Follow Me app

Skyping Through Colonial Settlements

Multiple days
Lesson type: 
Project Based Lesson
Lesson overview: 

The influences of European nations that settled North America as well as the geographic landscape of each region were two of the most impactful factors that led to how the original thirteen colonies developed both culturally and economically.  To learn about the development of these regions and the people who first populated them helps us understand and embrace the similarities and differences of present day people and cultures around the United States today. 

Problem: It is the year 2116 and time travel has already been around for decades, however, it is still very costly for a person to travel through time so sending your entire class on a field trip to the past isn’t in your teacher’s budget this year.  Knowing how beneficial first-hand accounts can be, your teacher has decided she can send four students to make a trip back in time to learn about the settlement of the American colonies. Fortunately, the visionaries at Skype have developed TIME MACHINE SKYPE (TMS) that will allow you and your team to Skype from the past to your teacher and classmates in the present! To ensure your safety and help your classmates follow you on the trip, you will use the new Google Earth (GE) Follow Me app to plot your course as you travel from place to place and to pinpoint and share important information at each location within the map and through TMS.  To do this you, along with three of your classmates must ‘visit’ each of the three geographic areas (New England, Mid-Atlantic and Southern regions) to gather historical information about settlements in each area and answer these questions:

  • Where, when and why did European settlers come to the New World? (Puritans in New England, Quakers in the Mid-Atlantic – or Middle – Colonies, and English settlements of Southern colonies, most specifically South Carolina and the rise of slavery)
  • What influences of European governments, religions and way of life affected how the colonies were settled?
  • How did geography play a role in the development of the way of life and economies of the colonies? 

You will add this information to your GE to share with your classmates and as a travel log to keep for years to come!  In addition, your team will conduct a TMS session with your classmates from each location (obviously this will all be simulated!) to answer any questions they may have.  

Essential Question: 

When choosing a settlement location, how important is geography, possible economic opportunities, and past cultural experiences to the success of the colony?

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Lesson created by:
Christine Horowitz and Kim Buice
Lesson Partners: 
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