Early American History activities

Early American History

For the last couple of weeks, we have been working on early American history. Basically, our time period ran from 1400 – 1610, or Leif Erikson to Jamestown. We are using an easy to read history book written just for kids that I am really liking. It is simple enough language that the older girls can read and understand it but challenging enough that we have to work on vocabulary. I also really like the world view that is presented in it.

We read, as a family, a book called Elizabeth’s Diary. It is fictional but written from the perspective of a 9 year old girl who has just arrived at Jamestown in 1609. The girls loved it! It is part of the My America series. We are now working on diary number 3. Number 2 was just as good as the first!

Since we were winding down with that period, I wanted to do something that would get the girls really excited. I settled on a table with lots of different activities that they could choose from. I put together a list of activities from four categories: Christopher Columbus, other explorers, Native Americans, and Jamestown. We spent about 3 days choosing activities and the number of activities chosen varied based on how difficult each activity was for the girl to complete. Each girl had to choose at least one from each category and complete those before choosing a second from any category. This format was a huge hit! This is the table that we used.

Unit 1 self-directed learning rubric PDF

And here are the girls, hard at work…

Working on a world map of the explorers:


Building a ship out of building blocks:


Making corn cakes from a native American recipe:


Making a necklace, using feathers and beads, inspired by native American ideas:


Making potage, a vegetable stew type meal, inspired by a recipe from Jamestown:


And, another ship built using the building blocks:


They also used a really cool site from National Geographic to explore Werowocomoco (the Indian village of Pocahontas) and Jamestown, and to learn about John Smith. One of the girls created a shopping list of possible needed items for a sailor to make the ocean crossing on a ship. The other girls created journal entries as if she were one of the sailors sailing with Columbus. We are still waiting to do one more of the activities because we need to go to the grocery store for it – fish stew. Yuck! Oh, wait, I mean Yum! (I am trying really hard to get excited about this one!)

It was lots of fun to see them take control of their learning and to expand it beyond what I had even imagined. We will definitely be doing this type of learning at the end of the next unit so that the joy of learning continues and grows in the girls. At Home.


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