Connect and Explore - Colonial Times

woman using wheel to spin flax


  • Time & Chronology Activity / Suggested Time: 10 minutes

    Paper base 10 blocks can be a powerful tool for teaching concepts about time and chronology.

    Provide each student with a strip of ten base 10 blocks.

    ten block

    Ask students to number the blocks according to how old they are-- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, (8) and to stop at the age they are right now. Student will then tear off (or fold) any extra blocks.

    writing numbers in ten block boxes

    Modeling: Write I am..... years old. Ask students to circle the age they are right now and copy the sentence.

    example of writing I am 6 years old with ten block

    Teacher talk:

    Right now you are six or seven (or eight) years old. A word for right now is the present. Oftentimes we use the word present to describe a gift. In social studies when we use the word present, it means right now in time. It means today.

    Now let's count back in time. We call this time the past. If today you are six, then last year you were five. You were five in the past. Let's count together. Start with the age you are today. 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

    Turn and Talk:

    Choose a time in your past (e.g., age 5) and tell your partner something that happened when you were that age (e.g., I learned to ride a bike when I was 5 years old). Share selected responses with the class. 


    Ask students to glue their personal timeline into their journal on the first page.


    Reinforce the terms pastpresent, and future by displaying this example using a document camera:

    past, present, and future example on ten block

  • Communication, Recreation, & Transportation (15 minutes)

    Activity: When I was a First Grader 

    (learning from faculty members & parent volunteers) / Time: 15 minutes

    To extend students' thinking about time & chronology, create base 10 block timelines for the teacher and librarian. Show students how your life is represented by the blocks. There's no need to number each box, they'll get the picture!

  • Sample Anchor Text Activity (15-20 minutes)

    In this part of the unit, the focus of study narrows to communication, recreation and transportation during Colonial times.

    Read Aloud / Time: 15-20 minutes

    Hornbooks and Inkwells by Verla Kay (2011)

    Hornbooks and Inkwells book cover

    Use a base 10 block timeline to represent 270 years. The time period this book describes is about 270 years ago. We call this time in history Colonial times.

    Read the book once all the way through.

    Read again, pausing for student questions and emphasizing examples of communication, recreation and transportation.

    • Communication
      • writing with a quill pen and ink
      • reading a hornbook
    • Recreation
      • racing
      • ice skating
      • walking on stilts
      • playing marbles (marbles made of clay)
      • hitting a leather ball with a stick
    • Transportation
      • walking
    Source Strip

    Students will add a source strip for Hornbooks and Inkwells to their History Journal. 

Phase: Connect & Explore
  • This phase is intended to:

    Connect students to the topic and spark their interest in learning more.

    Key ideas:

    • Activate background knowledge
    • Build curiosity
    • Allow time for further topic exploration independently or in small groups
    • Begin questioning