Teaching the Thirteen Colonies: Colonial America Projects FREE worksheets

My Favorite Classroom Posters on 13 Colonies

Are you looking for fun ideas and projects you can use in your classroom to teach the 13 Colonies for kids?  If you teach this evolving time in history, then you know it's a tricky topic for many students.

It can also be challenging to find grade-appropriate or differentiated materials for third or fourth graders to utilize.  Here are some of the fun projects, ideas, resources and lessons we have used around the Thirteen Colonies!
This post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. If you purchase something using these links I may receive a small commission.

Background Knowledge and Guiding Questions

Begin this study with either individual or small group KWL forms.  I have found the group forms get kids more engaged, since fewer students are likely to have much to add on their individual forms.

Here are two FREE worksheets for you to use with your class!
FREE PDF 13 Colonies Guiding Questions planning sheet  13 Colonies KWL FREE worksheet: Background Information

Record their "wonders" on a large chart paper or type it up on the overhead/Smartboard. 
Here is an example of one of my typed up versions:
Use these questions to create learning targets, while connecting to your standards.
Here are my teaching standards for the 13 Colonies:

  • I can explain what a colony is.
  • I understand the events that led to each area becoming a colony. (Who, When, Where)
  • I can explain what the land and people are like in each of the three colony regions.
  • I can identify and label the 13 colonies on a map.
  • I can give examples of the types of resources people used in each region.
  • I can give examples of what life was "typically" like for people in each region.

Utilizing Maps for the 13 Colonies

Start the learning journey by checking out a colonial map!
I give them paper handouts, we look at images online, and we refer to posters.

My Favorite Classroom Posters on 13 Colonies
Tip: It is very helpful to have a poster-sized map up, so you can continuously refer to the geographic areas.  This one is less than $10 on Amazon:

There are many FREE resources online,  I use this FREE Map of 13 Colonies from eduplace.com.  

It's time to introduce the idea of the three regions.
  • The New England Colonies (or Northern Colonies)
  • The Middle Colonies (or Mid-Atlantic Colonies)
  • The Southern Colonies

Looking for ways to combine ELA and Social Studies?  Check out my Editing Sentences and Paragraphs products on Teachers Pay Teachers!
Looking for ways to combine ELA and Social Studies?  Check out my Editing Sentences and Paragraphs products on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Finding Facts About Colonial America

When you begin your study, it's helpful to start with the Pilgrims and then to talk about Jamestown. This establishes the idea of chronological sequence. You may want to begin to record a timeline at this point, as well.

I am a HUGE supporter of Teachers Pay Teachers and have found some OUTSTANDING resources on there for this unit.

We use the Colonial America package by Amy Labrasciano.  It's got a mini student booklet, which is great for third graders.  She provides graphic organizers and task cards.  She recently updated this and it's even better!  This is definitely a must-have resource!

We glue the booklet into our social studies notebooks, after we have highlighted and discussed the important information.

Colonial Jobs and Trades

Another one of my favorite resources from Teachers Pay Teachers is by Shelly Rees.  Here package is hands-on and perfect for your interactive notebook!

I LOVE her interactive bulletin board set-up and my students do, too.  I always find them lifting the flaps to read about the different jobs and trades of early American colonists!

Last year, we asked our students to vote on one colonial occupation and to become experts on it.  I used this package for my students to create their job applications and letters of reference.  This packages is SO worth it!

Click here for a FREE Colonial Jobs Voting Handout:
Colonial America Jobs & Trades Sign Up Sheet
Colonial America Jobs & Trades List

Project Ideas for Colonial America

1. Colony Expert

For many years, we have had students choose one of the colonies to research more deeply.  They then put on a display showcasing their facts and knowledge.  

When doing research for each colony, I found it was helpful for students to organize their information into the following categories:
  • When was the Colony established?
  • Where was the Colony located?
  • What was it like there? (climate, land, houses)
  • What important events happened there?
  • Who lived there? (people, jobs, agriculture) 

Click on the image for a FREE copy of our research packet:

FREE Research Packet 13 Colonies

2. Colonial Occupation or Trace Expert

Last year, we had students one colonial job or trade--and we LOVED the outcome!  Students presented their research, created props, wrote job applications, created letters of interest and displayed all of their work during our Open House.

The kids all dressed up in colonial costumes, as well!

Colonial Costume Ideas

The easier--the better.  We always encourage students to use items from home instead of buying costumes.  However, some families enjoy the full costume effect, so here are both options:

How to Making Colonial Costumes DIY

I found this gem of a resource online (and it's FREE!) This handout, posted by a teacher in California, goes over what Men, Boys, Women, and Girls typically wore during colonial times.

The handout gives ideas for sewing costumes and for turning a shirt into a shift.  It also shows how to turn a dish towel into an apron.

We also use soccer socks, which kids can put over their pants (to look like knickers) and a kerchief can be used for boys and girls (around their necks or on their heads.)

Buying Colonial Costumes

When it comes to finding affordable costumes, we have had great luck on Amazon. Here are some of our favorites:

Supplemental Resources

We use the following resources and find them extremely helpful:

Teachers Pay Teachers

Book Ideas

Looking for ways to combine ELA and Social Studies?  Check out my Editing Sentences and Paragraphs products on Teachers Pay Teachers!

ELA Editing Sentences Paragraphs History Iroquois Native Americans

I wish you joy and luck on your discovery of the 13 Colonies! 
Thank you for reading along.
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What is one resource you wish you could find for your students?  Comment below: