Colonial House Picture of the colony
Meet the Colonists Behind the Scenes Interactive History Media Gallery
For Teachers
Lesson Plan: Everything Was Up to Date in 1628
Overview Procedures for Teachers

Time Allotment: Two or three 45-minute class periods (excluding homework)

Overview: In this lesson, students will examine the life and lifestyles of New England colonists in the year 1628, and then investigate what life was like in their own area during the same time period. After watching segments from the PBS hands-on history series COLONIAL HOUSE, students will complete an online virtual "scavenger hunt" by examining various objects from the colonists' cottages. Based on their research and detective work in the scavenger hunt, students will be able to make predictions about what life was like for the early colonists.

Following their study of the colonists' homes, students will use an online research organizer to investigate the history of their own area. Students will develop timelines of the history of in their own area from 1628 to the present, and develop a hypothesis about what life was like in their area at that time.

This lesson can be used as a pre- or post-viewing activity for the PBS series COLONIAL HOUSE, or as an independent lesson on early colonization in North America. A basic knowledge of early colonial history and American history is required.

Subject Matter: History

Learning Objectives:
Students will be able to:
- Describe colonial housing in New England during the 1620s;
- Identify 17th-century household objects;
- Investigate historical artifacts and describe their uses;
- Discuss the history of their area;
- Create a timeline of the history of their community;
- Hypothesize what life was like in their community during the 1620s.

From the National Standards for History Grades 5-12, available online at

Historical Thinking Standard 1: The student thinks chronologically; therefore, the student is able to distinguish between past, present, and future time and interpret data presented in timelines and create timelines by designating appropriate equidistant intervals of time and recording events according to the temporal order in which they occur.

Historical Thinking Standard 2: The student thinks chronologically; therefore, the student is able to describe the past on its own terms, through the eyes and experiences of those who were there, as revealed through their literature, diaries, debates, arts, artifacts, and the like.

Historical Thinking Standard 4: The student conducts historical research; therefore, the student is able to formulate historical questions from encounters with historical documents, eyewitness accounts, letters, diaries, artifacts, photos, historical sites, art, architecture, and other records from the past.


Media Components:
Video: COLONIAL HOUSE, Episode 1: "A New World" (optional)
(For ordering information, visit PBS Shop for Teachers)

For the class:
Computers with Internet access

For each student:
Pencil and paper for notetaking

Prep for Teachers:
Prior to teaching the lesson, review all of the video segments and Web sites to make certain they are appropriate for your students. Download the Quicktime 3 plug-in, available at, to each computer in your classroom. Cue the video to the appropriate starting point, which is shortly after the colonists have arrived in the colony, and they are walking hand in hand up a steep hill, away from a bay. You will hear a violin and bells.

When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

Continue to Procedures for Teachers

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