This unit focuses on the lives and events during America’s colonial period. There are six subjects integrated into this unit: mathematics, social studies, health, the arts, science, and language arts (writing and reading). We selected this topic because it aligned with the Cobb County School district’s schedule, and also because we find this to be a very fascinating and diverse content area! The purpose of the unit is for students to understand the daily lives of the colonists and be able to compare and contrast these details with their own lives. Furthermore, the students will learn about the major events of this time period and how they resulted in the formation of America as a nation. Throughout this unit the students will be exposed to multiple facets of the life of a colonist, including colonial occupations and events that affected their daily lives. The lessons were formed using Common Core standards for mathematics and language arts and Georgia Performance standards for social studies, health, the arts, and science.
The colonial period is one of the most important eras in American history. It recognizes the birth of our nation and celebrates the hard earned independence from England. This time period also touches on the relationship with the Native Americans and that while many mistakes were made, friendships with groups such as the Wampanoag tribe were formed. The students will practice many different learning styles corresponding with Bloom’s Taxonomy. They will also work both individually and in groups to address multiple learning styles and to assist students who need assistance. This will also give gifted students the opportunity to help their peers understand concepts that they have mastered. The students will investigate, research, discuss, share ideas, compare and contrast, make decisions based on research and opinions, and be enlightened to new cultures and ideas.
For the social studies portion of the unit, each day will begin with a mini lesson about a specific event or historical figure of the colonial time period. The students will then be given time to work on their research project. This project will be performed individually and in small groups and they will work together to create a colonial newspaper or book. Each student will be assigned a colonial occupation to research and write an article about. Then, as a group, they will type and compile the articles into a newspaper or book and share it with the class. The newspaper will also include images found on the Internet and an “about the author” section where the students get to write a short passage about themselves.
For the mathematics and health portions of the unit the students will complete a sleep chart for one week. They will record the times that they went to sleep and woke up and then will calculate how many hours they slept each night. They will use the class data to form fractions about how much sleep everyone was getting and if it was sufficient for their busy schedules! They will then compare their sleep schedules to that maintained by colonial children and evaluate why these children may have needed more or less sleep.
In the science section of the assignment the students will learn about simple machines and how they were used in the colonial era. They will compare and contrast these devices to that of modern times. They will also examine weather-monitoring devices of modern times and compare them to that of colonial days. They will study things like weather vanes and almanacs and actually make their own weather vane!
This unit takes a holistic approach to education as it incorporates most, if not all, academic subjects. This particular unit focuses on colonial life, but a thematic unit could feature nearly any theme. We believe that this is a very effective way to present content to children as it allows the students to continuously make connections that they might not have made otherwise.