Beacon Lesson Plan Library

A Colony is Born : Lesson 1 - Hull of a Ship

Katie Koehnemann
Bay District Schools


This is the introductory lesson to the Unit Plan: A Colony Is Born. In this lesson, a bulletin board for the unit will be started, Colonial Notebooks will be presented to each student, and a pre-test on colonization will be administered.


The student extends previously learned knowledge and skills of the fourth grade level with increasingly complex reading texts and assignments and tasks (for example, explicit and implicit ideas).

The student reads and organizes information from multiple sources for a variety of purposes (for example, supporting opinions, predictions, and conclusions; writing a research report; conducting interviews; taking a test; performing tasks).

The student compares and contrasts primary and secondary accounts of selected historical events (for example, diary entries from a soldier in a Civil War battle and newspaper articles about the same battle).

The student constructs and labels a timeline based on a historical reading (for example, about United States history).

The student knows significant events in the colonization of North America, including but not limited to the Jamestown and Plymouth settlements, and the formation of the thirteen original colonies.

The student understands selected aspects of everyday life in Colonial America (for example, impact of religions, types of work, use of land, leisure activities, relations with Native Americans, slavery).


- A bulletin board (or wall space).
- An outline of the hull of a colonial ship. (See Extensions for an elaborate version or create your own.)
- Space enough for 12-15 pieces of cargo
- Corresponding colored construction paper shape to fit a cargo section, labeled Colonial Pre-test.
For each student:
- A notebook prepared according to the suggested layout. (See Preparation for further information.)
- A copy of the A Colony Is Born binder cover page (In Summative Assessment C file. See Extensions for a link to this file.)
- Notebook Table of Contents, hole punched (In Summative Assessment C file. See Extensions for a link to this file.)
- Notebook Assessment Checklist, hole punched (In Summative Assessment C file. See Extensions for a link to this file.)
- A copy of the diagnostic assessment Who Am I? What Do I Know? for each student (This is located in the Diagnostic Assessment file. See Extensions for a link to this file.)
- Copy of the Who Am I? What Do I Know? Diagnostic assessment key (This is located in the Diagnostic Assessment file. See Extensions for a link to this file.)
- Bookmark on the computers Web sites that the students will be using. All the suggested Web sites are located in the Web Links section of this plan

- NOTE: You WILL need this book later. It is an EXCELLENT resource for your students on customs, family life, home, clothing, food, fun, religion, education, occupations, and relations with the Indians is a book titled EVERYDAY LIFE: COLONIAL TIMES by Walter A. Hazen. It includes cross-curricular activities in each chapter, which you may be interested in using as activities in your Learning Centers. I found it at school/teacher supply store. ISBN # 0-673-36322-8


(1) Bookmark any of the suggested Web sites on computers that will be used during this unit.

(2) Prepare a blank bulletin board or wall space by covering it with paper (or whatever kind of background you choose).

(3) Make a colonial ship hull to meet the size needs of your selected bulletin board or wall space.

(4) Cut a colored construction paper shape to correspond with a cargo section of the hull. Label it Colonial Diagnostic Assessment.

(5) Prepare a Colonial Notebook for each student. As suggested for this unit, the notebook should include A Colony Is Born cover sheet, the Table of Contents, a copy of the Notebook Assessment Checklist, and five tabs as follows: (1) Sources (2) Timeline (3) Noteworthy Information (4) Region of Focus (5) Journal Entries (Cover sheet, Table of Contents, and Assessment Checklist are in the Summative Assessment C file. See Extensions for a link to this file.)
(6) Make a copy of the Diagnostic Assessment, Who Am I? What Do I Know? for each student. (See Extensions for a link to this file.)

(7) Make a copy of the Diagnostic Assessment KEY for Who Am I? What Do I Know? (See Extensions for a link to this file.)

(8) A set of classroom ring binders that can be re-titled for different units of study is a wise investment. They are great organizers for you and students, and if well cared for, will last you for many years. If you are able to order a class set, I suggest one-inch white or black binders with the clear plastic window on the cover. A reputable source for these is Quill Office Products. Your school office probably orders from them already. Order: Binders # 031-7-221, white clear front.


Note: If you would like to use the complete Unit Plan: A Colony Is Born, please see the Extensions for a link to the unit and assessments.

(1) Bookmark any of the suggested Web sites on computers to be used during this unit.

(2) Lesson introduction
A day or two before beginning this unit, prepare the bulletin board and ship hull as described in the Materials section of this plan.

(3) (OPTIONAL INTRODUCTION) The day you introduce the unit, and without other students knowing, select two students who will be your helpers. Give them the paper shipís hull that will be mounted on the bulletin board, and direct them to wait just outside the door. On cue, you will have them walk or sail the ship hull into the room. Say to the rest of the class: Weíre going on a voyage. And the first thing weíll need is a good, strong sailing vessel! (Your helpers have been told ahead of time to sail the ship to the bulletin board, and mount it on the designated space. Have pins or a stapler available for them.)

(3) If you choose not to sail the ship in, use the bulletin board as a visual to stimulate a student discussion.

(4) Say: Before we begin, letís find out what we already know about this journey we will be taking. Hand out to each student a copy of the Who Am I? What Do I Know? diagnostic assessment. (See Extensions for a link to this file.)

(5) Once students complete the assessment, draw their attention again to the bulletin board ship, saying: We will be loading our ship with precious cargo. The compartments need to be filled with knowledge about the early American colonies. We will learn about the colonists, why they came, why they settled in different regions, and what hardships they endured. To help us keep clear records of our cargo, we will each be keeping a Colonial Notebook. Pass out notebooks to students. Have them write their names on the cover sheet that slides into the front cover. A walk through of the notebook should include a visit to the Table of Contents and the Notebook Assessment Checklist, both of which will give students the expectation level for the completed notebook.

(6) Say: As our knowledge of Colonial times increases, we will keep filling cargo spaces in the hull of our ship. Today, we completed our pre-test, so letís show that we have loaded that piece of cargo onto the ship. Place the labeled cut construction paper piece onto a cargo section in the hull of the ship.

(7) Complete instruction for the day by showing students where they will be keeping their Colonial Notebooks.


The Who Am I? What Do I Know? diagnostically assesses studentsí knowledge of:

Comparing and contrasting primary and secondary sources
Constructing and labeling a timeline based on a historical reading Significant events in the colonization of North America
Selected aspects of everyday life in Colonial America

Ability to:
Read increasingly complex texts and assignments to determine the main idea and essential message and identify supporting detail )
Read and organize information from multiple sources for a variety of purposes
Locate relevant information, interpret and explain concepts in information, apply information to tasks, evaluate information

Resource Managers, will be modeled and formatively assessed throughout this unit and will be summatively assessed four different ways at the end of the unit.


1. The colonial ship can be cut from the brown bulletin board paper that comes on the big rolls. If you donít have access to that, perhaps several sheets of brown construction paper taped together will be a workable alternative for you. Or, how about using brown grocery bags opened up and taped together? The idea here is to have a fun visual for the classroom that will record the different components of the unit as the students study each area. If you make your colonial ship hull a cut-away view, so that the hull compartments can be seen, you will have the best arrangement for using this tool. An excellent pictorial example that could be used as a guide to create the hull can be found on page 203 of the Social Studies book, UNITED STATES AND ITS NEIGHBORS, MacMillan/McGraw-Hill, 1995. Just visualize an outline of the Mayflower with the sideboards on one side left off so that you can see the cargo compartments. The number of cargo compartments doesnít really matter, but should range between 12 Ė 15. As you work through the unit, and each different component of study is addressed, a representative compartment in the hull will be filled with a piece of colored construction paper that has been cut in a corresponding shape. For example, once primary and secondary sources are discussed, choose any one of the cargo compartments to fill with a colored corresponding shape to designate that that area of study has been loaded onto the ship. You may want to do this with vocabulary, as each group of new words is added; list them on a paper barrel and stack the barrels in the vocabulary compartment of the hull.

2. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unitís link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).
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