The period of Colonial North America spans the 17th and 18th centuries, during which European powers started to colonize the Americas. Primarily, these were the British, French, and Spanish colonists. This era marked the genesis of what was to become the United States of America, resulting in the formation of the original thirteen British colonies.
Many elements of modern American society, including its legal system, social patterns, economy, and culture, were significantly shaped during this period. These historical events and systems forged by our ancestors influence the society and world we live in today. Understanding this period is crucial to grasp the complexities of current issues, such as racial and economic disparities.
This era was characterized by the clash and fusion of numerous cultures and races, the devastating impact on indigenous tribes, the birth of new economies, and the stirrings of the democratic ideals that would later on shape the United States of America.
Colonial North America generally includes the establishment of Jamestown in 1607, the period of Puritan New England, the formation of the thirteen British colonies, the French and Indian War, and ends with the American Revolution. Each of these events and periods influenced the development of the American colonies and grew into the founding of an independent nation.
Grasping the history of Colonial North America and its implications is essential to comprehend the broader history of the United States and the complexities of its relationship with the wider world. It helps us answer some of the fundamental questions about our society: Why do we have the systems we have? Why are some societal issues recurrent? How can we learn from our past?
- "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn
- "American Colonies: The Settling of North America" by Alan Taylor
Remember to critically analyze and cross-check the information you find. Each source offers its unique perspective on history. However, the truth often lies in assessing multiple accounts and viewpoints. History is not only about the events that happened but also about understanding the perspectives of those who lived through these events.
Activity Title: "Colonial Life and Influence: A Theatrical Exploration"
To understand and interpret the life, culture, and influences of Colonial North America through the creative medium of a theatrical performance.
In this activity, student groups will develop and perform a 10-minute play that captures key elements of life during Colonial North America. The play should include important historical events, illustrate the daily life of different groups of people (native tribes, European colonists, slaves, etc.), and highlight the influence these events and people have on current American society.
- Research material/Resources provided above
- Props for the play (can be made from readily available materials)
- Costume elements (can be simple, made from the students' clothes or craft materials)
- A script for the play written by students
Research (1 hour): Using the resources provided and any additional ones you find, research the life and times of Colonial North America. Pay attention to the important events, players, and the everyday lives of people.
Brainstorming (30 minutes): Share your findings with your group. Brainstorm potential scenarios for your play that would best demonstrate your understanding of the period.
Planning (1 hour): Once you have your scenario, plan out your play. Who are your characters? What is the plot? What real historical events are you including?
Script Writing (1 hour): Write a script for your play. Remember to infuse historical facts and aspects of everyday life in Colonial North America into your dialogue and scene descriptions.
Rehearsal (1 hour): Rehearse your play. This includes arranging costumes and props, practicing lines, and figuring out stage movements.
Performance (10 minutes): Perform your play for the class. Engage your audience with your understanding and interpretation of Colonial North America.
Reflection (30 minutes): After the performance, reflect on the process. What did you learn? How did your understanding of the topic change?
Every stage of this activity requires collaboration, creative thinking, and time management.
Research Notes: These should include all the key points and concepts that you have gathered from the resources. This will show your comprehension of the topic and your ability to select relevant information.
Play Script: Your script should tell a compelling story while accurately representing Colonial North America. It should include reference to key historical events, lifestyles of different societal groups, and their influence on current society.
Theatrical Performance: Your performance should be well-rehearsed and effectively convey your understanding of the period. Remember, your costumes, dialogues, and stage movements all contribute to the authenticity and power of your performance.
Written Report: You will compile a document containing the following:
- Introduction: A brief explanation of the chosen scenario for the play, why it was chosen, and how it relates to Colonial North America.
- Development: Detailed explanation of the play, including character development, plot synopsis, and how historical facts were incorporated into the script. Discuss your methodology (how did you plan and divide the work, how did you choose the roles, etc.).
- Conclusions: Summarize the learnings and insights you gained from the activity. Revisit the main points of your play and explain the relation of the historical events portrayed to modern society.
- Bibliography: List all the sources you referred to during your research. Remember to follow correct citation formats.
This project should reflect your understanding of the Colonial North America period and its influence. The objective is not just to relay historical facts but to interpret and connect them to our current societal setup. The theatrical format allows you to explore this in an engaging and creative way. Your written report should offer a deep reflection and analytical understanding of Colonial North America.
Suggested Group Size: 3 - 5 students
Estimated Time for Completion: 4 - 5 hours
Project Timeline: One week
This project will allow you to explore the richness and variety of the Colonial North America period in a fun way while developing your collaboration, creativity, and time-management skills. Make sure to enjoy the process as much as the end product. Happy exploring!