This post about colonial times originally appeared on the blog Heart 2 Heart Teaching.

When the Pilgrims made the voyage to the New World in 1620, they wanted the right to follow their own religious beliefs. Many of them wanted to start a new life free from the King of England. Not too long after the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth Rock, a new group called the Puritans left England. They also wanted to practice their own religion. They settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the first colony known as New England. Little did they know that life would be challenging as they faced many obstacles in the New World. New diseases, harsh weather, and little food made life in the colonies difficult.

Take a step back in time… with interactive activities to learn about what life was like during Colonial Times.

Parts 1-3 Life in Colonial Times by Region

The unit is divided up into six comprehensive parts to investigate all the different facets of life in the Thirteen Colonies.

Part 1: Life in New England Colonies Part 4: Interactive Activities

Part 2: Life in the Mid-Atlantic Colonies Part 5: Colonial Jobs & Technology

Part 3: Life in the Southern Colonies Part 6: Vocabulary

Let’s explore more…

Have students read the differentiated passages about each region in the 13 Colonies: New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern Colonies. The passages focus on each region related to people, natural resources, climate, daily life, crops, houses, schooling, and economy. There is a graphic organizer, brochure activity, and close passage for students to complete at that center or learning station that ties it all together.

13 colonies activities for kids

Some of the activities in this pack include mystery flaps, flip book, tri-fold brochures for region, map activities, and more!

Solve the Mystery Flaps

Mystery flaps are an excellent way to assess students’ learning. Ask the students to follow to identify each object and tell how it’s related to the 13 Colonies. See the pictures below for step-by-step directions.

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Flipping for Flip books

We hear from teachers all the time that students flip for flip books! Who wouldn’t? Flip books are a fun way to reinforce learning and review at the end of a unit. Plus they fit neatly inside their notebooks giving them the INB stamp of approval!

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Using Differentiated Reading Passages

The passages come in THREE levels of difficulty so that you can meet each student’s reading level with the same content information. Each passage has the same key ideas and essential information.

In this unit, you will find different levels of difficulty that have the same look. The levels are identified by a key at the top of the page. Use the key below to determine which reading level is best for your students. Having three levels for each passage gives you a lot of flexibility in the ways you can use them.

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Here are a few examples:

  • Guided Reading Groups: Divide the class into groups by reading level. Hand out the passages and organizers for each reading level to that group, respectively. Starting with the lower level, rotate between the groups to provide support as needed.
  • Mixed Ability Groups: Divide the class into 4-6 mixed ability groups. Hand out the MIDDLE level reading passages and organizers. Have students take turns reading and answering the questions on the organizers.
  • Partner Work: Divide the class into groups of 2. Be sure to have one student at a higher reading level in each group. Hand out the MIDDLE or HIGHER level reading passages depending on the makeup of the group.
  • Whole Group: Pass out the HIGHER level reading passages. Read aloud with the students for the first read. Then have students read the passage a second time and use it to answer the questions on the organizer or brochure activity.
  • Individual Reading: Hand out passages and organizers to each student at their approximate reading level to complete on their own.
  • Other uses: learning stations, centers, interventions, homework, morning work, and review.

Set up Learning Stations

At each station, place copies of the reading passages and organizers in a manilla folder. After reading the passages, students can complete the graphic organizers or brochure activity for each region. Printing the organizers off on different colored papers can help keep the stations organized and easily identifiable.

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Reinforce with Hands-on Activities

There are many activities included in this complete unit. You may not use them all, but with such a great variety you will have enough for all your needs. Some activities you might do in class while others you might use for homework, morning work, fast finishers, or to review at the end of the unit.

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Here are some of the activities in this unit:

  • Tri-fold Activity for each Region
  • Who am I? Activity
  • Maps for each region
  • 3 Cloze Passages w/keys
  • Graphic Organizers
  • 13 Colonies Flip Book
  • Life in Colonial Times Fact Sort
  • Mystery Flaps Activity Pages
  • Writing Prompt
  • 13 Colonies in Order of Founding Chart
  • Venn Diagrams

13 Colonies Task Cards Freebie

Our 13 Colonies Task Cards are a fun and engaging way to reinforce learning and review at the end of a unit or to use at centers. They are so versatile with so many different ways to use them in the classroom! You can grab the Task Cards Freebie HERE!

Tri-folds are Terrific!

Students can use the information in the reading passages and vocabulary posters to answer the questions on the tri-folds for each region. Tri-folds are a graphic organizer that after you’ve completely finished it, it looks like a brochure. Tri-folds are designed slightly smaller than a regular brochure so after it is cut out and glued it inside their social studies notebooks, there’s still some space around the edges of the notebook page to write additional notes or more information.

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Colonial Jobs

Everyone had a job to do! Whether it was farming, weaving baskets, making candles, or melting iron down to shape into horseshoes, everyone had a major role in keeping the colony in working order. First, have students read about important trades in the colonies. There are character studies for Basket-makers, Blacksmiths, Printers, Shoemakers, Tailors, and Silversmiths. Technology changed a lot during this time especially with regards to shipbuilding and plows. Use the Venn diagrams, fact sort, and graphic organizers to compare and contrast life in all the different regions!

Vocabulary is the Name of the Game

Every unit has vocabulary words that help students understand the topic better. Introduce the vocabulary words with the real-life photo posters included. You could post these posters around the classroom and have students travel around to match up and define the words in their flip flaps or use as a center activity. They also make a fun scavenger hunt and a decorative bulletin board, too!

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

BIG-MATS = BIG FUN

Our newest product line is our BIG-MATS! BIG-MATS are big activity mats with lots of unique activities to do with your class! Teachers love using BIG-MATS to reinforce learning in a unique way. They are an excellent activity to use at the end of the lesson, as a culminating group activity, or to review for an upcoming test. Celebrate Colonial Times with these creative activities, and organizers that are FUN in a BIG way!

13 colonies big mats for kids

There are SIX—11 x 17 BIG-MATS —TWO for each region–New England, Mid-Atlantic, and the Southern Colonies as PDF. Answer keys are included in this pack. Print and copy these back-to-back in black and white to have the students complete for a one of a kind 13 Colonies activity. There are lots of fun activities, word searches, unscrambles, and questions for students to complete, answer, and color the scenes for each region. Students love them because they are creative and unique. Just copy back-to-back for an easy no prep meaningful and fun activity.

Ideas for Using:

*You can fold them in half to fit in a folder or a binder.
*Great for a culminating project or group work.
*Excellent way to review at the end of the unit.
*A fun homework activity to reinforce the lesson from the day.
*Students can work independently to answer the questions on the back page.
*Sample pictures are included

BIG-MATS can be printed at Office Depot for about 50 cents—for one copy–back to back– in black and white. Simply upload the file online and in less than 24 hours I picked them up. If you choose this option, be sure to pick “Landscape” as the orientation. I also checked ¼ inch margins to make sure that there was plenty of room on each side. Many schools have a copier that can print and copy on 11×17 paper. If you can print it at your school, then you can skip the step above and copy the amount you need for your class.

Check Out All Our Thirteen Colonies Resources:

Life in Colonial Times Unit

Life in the Colonies PowerPoint

13 Colonies Task Card Freebie

13 Colonies BIG-MATS

13 Colonies Bundle: The Whole Kit and Kaboodle to Explore Life in Colonial Times

Happy Teaching!

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Julieann Samayoa is the owner of Heart 2 Heart Teaching. Julieann is a certified teacher with 15 years of classroom experience and loves creating resources for other educators. When she’s not busy working, she enjoys traveling with her hubby and kids, hiking, photography, and yoga. Check out her TpT store. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.