Free Online Resources for Learning Colonial America Facts
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When you look at a map of the United States, you may find it hard to believe that it wasn’t always this big—and that it wasn’t always the United States. Our country’s story starts with Native Americans, the immigration of Europeans, and the formation of the thirteen colonies. The rest, as they say, is history!
As you introduce children to Colonial America, you may want to expand your idea of how to teach the topic. You may want your children to understand more than just the names of the colonies and a few interesting facts about Colonial America. Knowing the basics is certainly the place to start, but you may also want them to know what life was like back then. What were the people and towns like, and how did children learn and play? What did Colonial families eat, and what kinds of tools did they use? Answers to questions like these can make learning about Colonial America more interesting and help children understand how we became who we are today. Luckily, there are lots of free online resources to help–like these:
|Colonial Places for Kids||Colonial Lesson Plans & Activities for Kids|
*Although most of the resources listed here are free, those marked with a $ have a cost or require a fee/subscription in order to access the full range of materials.
Colonial Facts for Kids
Get the basics first by learning some Colonial America fun facts, and then explore some more! Here are some websites to get you started:
Children in Colonial America (Education World)
Enjoy this passage about Colonial children, and then work with the vocabulary and links at the bottom for a true ELA/Social Studies lesson.
Colonial America (Land of the Brave)
Download a free, kid-friendly illustrated guide to Colonial America. Learn about the founding of the 13 Colonies, life and religion in the Colonies, trade, slavery, and the government and taxes of Colonial America.
ACTIVITY: Watch the following two videos with your child. One video emphasizes the role of African Americans in Colonial America while the other does not. Using the videos as a basis, discuss how we represent history.
Colonial America for Kids (Ducksters)
This site offers an overview of Colonial America, including Colonies and Places, Daily Life, People, Events, and more!
Colonial America Resource Library (National Geographic)
This is a collection of texts on Colonial America topics, including “Women and Children in Colonial America,” “Africans in Colonial America,” “Native Americans in Colonial America,” “Economics of the Thirteen British Colonies,” and others. Texts are listed with grade level ranges to help you choose!
Colonial Times (Social Studies for Kids)
Find texts on lots of Colonial topics, from the voyage of the Pilgrims to farming and education in the 13 Colonies.
Daily Life in the 13 Colonies
Discover introductory material as well as information on Colonial food, clothing, speech and conversation, homes, kids, schools & education, society, occupations, trade, business, and government. Find games and activities, too. There is even a section of resources for teachers!
The New England Primer
Learn what Colonial children learned! Explore this standard reader from the 18th and 19th centuries that was used in both public and religious schools. It covers material for younger and older students and includes instruction in the alphabet as well as in Protestant beliefs. Note that some religious intolerance is evident in the primer (consistent with the thinking of the time).
New York State History – Colonial Period
For your middle and high school students, this is a collection of primary documents and published materials about the history of Colonial New York.
Colonial Places for Kids
Once your child knows basic Colonial America facts, help your child deepen learning by virtually exploring some of the Colonial settlements where early Americans lived. Try these sites to experience the places of Colonial America:
8 Remnants of Colonial NYC That You Can Touch (Untapped New York)
When you think about the huge skyscrapers, you may not realize that NYC had its roots in Colonial America. See images and read the stories behind eight artifacts of Colonial NYC that are still present today.
A Guide to Exploring Colonial New York City (Nomadic Matt)
NYC is one of the oldest cities in the country. Its Colonial history is there, but you have to search amid the tall buildings and crowded streets. Whether you are visiting the Big Apple or not, use this guide to learn about places to visit that tell the story of Colonial NYC.
Colonial Williamsburg | Homeschool Virtual Programs
Check out these great resources about Colonial Williamsburg and the 18th century: electronic field trips, videos, blogs, and conversations with People of the Past.
Explore Colonial Boston (PBS Learning Media)
Enjoy this interactive online activity for grades 3-12, complete with support materials and links to standards.
Jamestown Rediscovery: Historic Jamestown | JR Kids at Home
Learn all about historic Jamestown through downloadable kids coloring activities, images, fact sheets, and videos.
Also check out our post on Pilgrims to learn all about Plymouth Colony!
Colonial Lesson Plans & Activities for Kids
Not sure how to start teaching Colonial America for kids? Here are some resources to help you:
1607-1776 Colonial Period | Teaching with Dear America (Scholastic)
Read about the Colonial Period in America and access downloadables and whiteboard-ready slides. Also find student activities like quizzes, arts and crafts, fashion, recipes, and scrapbooks.
Colonial America (Scholastic)
Find unit plans, interactive whiteboard activities, booktalks, lesson plans, and informational resources on the history of the Colonial Period. Instructional materials are available by grade level from pre-K to grade 12.
Colonial America (TeacherVision)
Enjoy this collection of Colonial America resources and search by resource type. The collection includes activities, assessments, book guides, choice boards, daily warm-ups, projects, lesson plans, worksheets, and more.
Colonial America Unit (Kids Discover) $
Cover seven topics in this unit: “The Mayflower,” “What, Where, When, and Who Was Colonial America?” “Plimoth Plantation Museum,” “Colonial Williamsburg,” “Colonial Kids,” “Hearth and Home,” and “Colonial Merchants.” Login for a free account or upgrade for a premium membership.
The Colonial Era (1585-1763) (PBS Learning Media)
Check out over 90 videos, interactive lessons and activities, lesson plans, media galleries, audios, images, documents, webpages, and video collections.
Colonial Life Lesson Plan (History is Fun)
Enjoy this elementary lesson plan from the Jamestown Settlement® & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown®. Learn about what everyday life was like in Colonial Virginia.
Colonial Williamsburg | Education Resource Library
Login to create a free account or use the temporary username and password provided to access a media library of lessons, interactive online activities, and videos to help you teach American history.
Thematic Units – Colonial America
Find lesson plans, printouts, maps, and more. Have your child solve Colonial math problems, create a brochure to attract settlers, or make a how-to poster… Colonial style!
Virtual Jamestown | Teaching Material
Check out these lesson materials that ask students to discuss ideas about leadership based on the colonies, use census data to research occupations of colonial settlers, and discuss the relationship between Native Americans and colonists based on photographs of artifacts. Play with history through role playing exercises and become characters like Pocahontas or John Smith. So much more!
Colonial Projects and Crafts for Kids
What better way to celebrate our Colonial roots than by making crafts and projects that help us learn and are enjoyable! Check out these ideas:
1607-1776 Colonial Period Arts & Crafts
Have fun making flowered hair wreaths, cornhusk dolls, moccasins, or old paper. Practice leather embossing, bead making, and book binding. Just like in Colonial times!
33 Colonial Kids Activities
What a collection! Find colonial crafts, games, and food recipes. How about some steamed pumpkin pudding?
Colonial Craft Tutorials
Find a whole bunch of Colonial crafts that are kid-friendly (but some may require an adult helper). Make a quill pen and ink, sachets, butter, corn husk dolls, dipped candles, and much more!
Make Your Own Pump Drill (Adapted from Great Colonial America Projects)
A pump drill using a pumping action to bore a hole. Colonists used the pump drill to make holes for pegs when building homes and other projects. Help your child understand how labor intensive construction was by creating a model of this old-fashioned tool.
You can purchase the full book at the affiliate link below:
Great Colonial America Projects: You Can Build Yourself! $
By Kris Bordessa
“Great Colonial America Projects You Can Build Yourself introduces readers ages 9-12 to colonial America through hands-on building projects.”
Make Your Own Colonial “Whirligig” Toy
Try making this simple colonial toy, shared by the Mount Clare Museum House.
Maybe you’ve found an interesting resource about Colonial America for kids? Please share the links you have discovered in the comments below….