Investigating Colonial America Through Primary Sources

Contributor: Danielle Childers. Lesson ID: 10527

Could you name everything in your home? Studying items from Colonial homes shows what it was like to live then. You'll analyze inventories and create a comic strip about living during Colonial times!


United States, United States

learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Look around your house, room-by-room, at all of the items your family owns. In your kitchen, look through the drawers. Have your teacher set a timer for 3 minutes and name as many items as you can. Were you able to name everything in your kitchen? How long would it take you to name all of the items in your house?

What people have in their homes tells us a lot about how they live.

For example, today almost every home has a microwave. Historians in the future could look back at our time period and assume we like the convenience of heating up our food quickly. Historians could also tell about where we lived according to what we own. People living in Minnesota might have snow blowers and people living in Arizona would have bags of palm tree fertilizer. According to the number of beds and place settings a home has, historians could conclude how many people were living in the home.

Today, you are going to learn about Colonial America through looking at the personal property of two men who lived during that time. Before looking at the men's properties, here are two resources to read:

  • Experience the Life (The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation). You can read all of the sections, but be sure to read at least the "Family" and "Colonial Social Classes" sections.
  • Colonial Life ( The first three pages of this article deal directly with your lesson today. Take notes about the life of the Colonists. Continue to read Pages 4-6 to learn about how slavery was started during this time period.
  • From the readings, how was life in Colonial America similar to, and different from, life today?
  1. Go to Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar and print out the Graphic Organizer - Double Bubble Map.
  2. In the two larger circles, fill in the words, "Life in Colonial America" and "Life Today."
  3. In the 3 middle circles that are connected to both larger circles, write the similarities.
  4. In the circles connected to "Life in Colonial America," write three things that are different from life today, and do the opposite for the last three circles that are connected to "Life Today."

When your bubbles are full, continue on to the Got It? section to categorize colonial items in preparation for learning about the owners!

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