Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Colonization Specialization

Thomas Lucey


This lesson demonstrates how various people in the southern colonies had specialized societal roles. It also provides a simulation of plantation owners' attittudes.


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).


-Three decks of regular playing cards for each group of six students involved in this exercise.
-A key listing the codes for the different types of card characteristics for each student. (see Associated File)
-Assessment checklist for written assignment (see Assessment).


Ensure that you have enough decks of cards and symbol keys for this exercise.


Note: This exercise is based on an idea provided in Dr. Duane Gianagello's -Methods of Social Studies- course at the University of Memphis in the Spring 2001 semester.

1. Explain to the class that growth of cash crops and use of plantations required people to perform different roles. The students will conduct an exercise to understand the colonists thought about different types of people and their roles.

2. Break the class into groups of six, counting off by 6’s.

3. Provide each group will be given 3 fresh decks of cards. They SHOULD NOT open the decks until instructed.

4. Have each group select one member of the group to be the dealer/observer

5. Have the dealer open the decks and discard the jokers from each deck

6. Instruct the dealers to deal 30 cards to each of the other 5 members.

7. Explain that they are plantation owners and that each card represents one person in southern colonial society.

8. Provide each class member a key indicating how the values and suits of each card represent characteristics of people in the southern colonies. It would also be a good idea to have the key posted in the center of the room on an easel pad.

9. Instruct each person holding cards to select 5 people (cards) from their 30 which they want to keep for their plantation, and set them to their left, face-down.

10. Instruct each person holding cards to select 5 “people” from their 30 which they want do not want for their plantation, and set them to their right, face-down.

11. Instruct each student to put the remaining cards on the table face-up in front of them.

12. Tell the players that the cards are “tradable” and the students free to trade the cards with other players in their group.

13. Tell the five students in each group they have 5-10 minutes to trade to make their plantation staff to their liking.

14. Instruct the observers to watch the trades and look for patterns in them.

15. After they are done trading, instruct the students to turn over their keep piles to show their plantations (the 20 cards and the 5 keeps).

16. Instruct each player to give their “Let go” pile to the observer. The observer looks at his or her plantation one card at a time.

17. Instruct the students to note the features of their plantation staff and what the observers staffs represent.The groups should have a discussion about the outcome of the activity during which the observer should share any patterns, etc. which developed

18. Conduct a follow-up class discussion about this activity after students have done the assessment.

Note: This lesson also addresses the Tennessee State Standards as follows:
Tennessee State Curriculum Standards
Social Studies Grades 3-5

Standard 1: Students will exhibit a knowledge of history identifying and describing major events, people, and trends. To achieve this standard, the learner will:
Examine the roles and contributions made by African-Americans and other minority groups in American history.


A composition will be written which discusses the plantation owner's basis for selecting workers and why they think Africans become the predominant workers.

Students will be assessed through the following checklist:

____ Student's composition demonstrates understanding of how various people in the southern colonies had specialized societal roles.

---- Student compositions demonstrated understanding of why people of different orientations/backgrounds ended up in different roles.

---- Student's composition supports understanding by explaining their selection process

---- Student's composition supports understanding though comparing and contrasting other group members selection processes.


Extentions: Ask the students the following questions to extend their consideration of this lesson.
Why do you think that only certain groups of people worked on the plantations?
If you were to begin looking for work today, what do you think employers would look for in you?

Attached Files

Key     File Extension: pdf

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