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LESSON PLAN: Mapping the Colonies GRADES: 6-9

Mapping the Colonies

Related topics: U.S. history, natural resources, human interaction with the environment

These activities help students understand the geography of the thirteen original colonies.

Map Outline (Labels) (Home>>Maps>>Outline (Labels))
Books about colonial America
Computer with Internet access
Pencil and paper

Five one hour class periods

Activity 1 teaches students the location of the thirteen original colonies and surrounding territories.
Activity 2 supports student awareness of the countries that founded the original U.S. colonies.
Activity 3 encourages understanding of the interaction between colonists and the environment.

Students will understand the location of the thirteen original colonies and surrounding territories.
Students will recognize that people from Europe founded the colonies and ruled the surrounding areas.
Students will understand the interaction between colonial settlers and the environment.


The use of a variety of maps, globes, graphic representations, and geospatial technologies to help investigate
the relationships among people, places, and environments.
Research, organize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information from atlases, data bases, grid systems,
statistical presentations, charts, graphs, and maps to interpret relationships among geographic factors and
events at the local, regional, national, and global levels, and assess policy options.

Beginning in the 15th century, European nations came to the Americas to increase their wealth and broaden their
influence over world affairs. These countries settled in different areas and competed for control of the New
World. Early settlers were faced with living in unknown territory and surviving off the land.

www.randmcnally.com/worldatlas 1
LESSON PLAN: Mapping the Colonies GRADES: 6-9


Students will use Outline (Labels) map to locate the thirteen original U.S. states and surrounding territories. This
can be accomplished by clicking on Layers>>1775-1800 - United States. Students will conduct research in order
to complete the attached worksheet by identifying which region each territory belonged to.

Students will research the following territories to determine what European country controlled each. Students will
use the marking tool and the same map from Activity 1 to connect each territory with its founding country.

New Jersey Louisiana

Tennessee New York
Pennsylvania Massachusetts
Florida Connecticut
Virginia Rhode Island

Students will research a specific colony or territory to understand why each location was chosen and how its
natural resources supported or limited the colonists. Students will write a paper answering the following

What natural resources and geographical What are the positive qualities of this area?
features are present? What are the negative qualities of this area?
What kind of industry can be developed here? Which resources was the most useful? Why?
Is this area better for urban or rural living?

Lesson Summary Activity

Now that students understand who founded the original colonies and why, lead a class discussion about the
competition for resources between European powers amongst themselves as well as with Native Americans.

Students can find basic information about the three colonial regions at http://www.history.com/topics/thirteen-
Students can read about trade and colonial economies at http://www.landofthebrave.info/trade-in-the-
Students can learn about countries that colonized North America at

Language Arts
Using proper mechanics students will write a journal entry from the perspective of a colonist living in early
America. Students should talk about daily life and the geography of the area.

www.randmcnally.com/worldatlas 2
Name: _______________________________________________________ Date: ___________________

Colonial Regions
Complete the map by coloring each state based on its colonial region. Fill in the
blanks below to create a list of states in each region. Create a simply map key to
identify regions by color.

New England Colonies


Middle Colonies

Southern Colonies