7 Jamestown Activities

Jamestown Activities

Hi, I’m Meghan from Vestal’s 21st CenturyClassroom. Welcome back to the next post in our series about teaching Virginia Studies! So far, we have covered ways to teach regions of Virginia and Americans Indians of Virginia. In this post, we’ll share some fun Jamestown activities you can use as part of your Virginia Studies curriculum.
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It is exciting to think the first permanent English settlement was started in the state where we live. Even though Jamestown eventually grew into a thriving colony, its early history is full of hardship. Typically, students are fascinated by the challenges the Jamestown settlers experienced, making this a great unit to get students excited about Virginia Studies. Here are seven Jamestown activities you can use to help build that excitement!

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Model the Jamestown Ships

When teaching Jamestown history, you have to go back to the time when the settlers were preparing to leave England. There were three ships that left, taking Englishmen to the New World. Before they left, a charter was signed by the king, describing the specific purposes of the venture. To help students learn about the ships and reasons for English colonization, I have students make a mobile. Each of the ships hangs from the mobile. On the back of each ship, students write one reason for English colonization.
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Make a Jamestown Virginia Map 

I am always looking for ways to integrate math and Virginia Studies. One way to do this is to have students create a map of the historic Jamestown settlement. I give students grid paper and instructions. They must create the map by locating and connecting points on a coordinate plane. This is one of my favorite Jamestown activities because it helps students to work on a challenging math skill in a fun way.
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Build a Jamestown Fort

The triangular fort the settlers built at Jamestown is another way to integrate math and Virginia Studies. Have students build a model or create a diorama of the fort. After students have constructed their forts, use the models to start a discussion. Ask students why they think the Jamestown settlers built the fort in the shape of a triangle instead of a square or circle. What were the advantages and disadvantages of the triangular shape?

Play On the Trail of Captain John Smith

Students love to use technology in the classroom, and National Geographic has created an awesome computer game that can be used as one of your Jamestown activities. In the game, On the Trail of Captain John Smith: A Jamestown Adventure, students play games and watch short videos about the challenges the Jamestown settlers experienced during their first year. The goal of the game is to help the settlers survive. My students absolutely love this Jamestown interactive!
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Read a Book about Jamestown History

Did you know there are several works of historical fiction that provide accurate accounts of the Jamestown settlement? One of my favorites is A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla. In the story, three siblings travel to Jamestown, hoping to find their father after the death of their mother. The book details the challenges the settlers faced, both while at sea and when they arrived at the Jamestown settlement.

I always use this book during my ELA time when teaching Jamestown history as a way to integrate Virginia Studies and ELA. Some years, I have used it as a read aloud. Other years, I have used it for guided instruction.
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Visit Historic Jamestown

As residents of Virginia, many of us have easy access to the actual site where the original Jamestown colony was built. While visiting Jamestown, students will get to explore a life-size replica of the fort and see activities that would have been performed by the settlers. Best of all, most tours can be aligned with the SOLs. If you are interested in visiting Historic Jamestowne, make sure to call and book your tour at least 30 days in advance.
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Make Jamestown Colony Games

I am a big fan of project-based learning! I try to incorporate a project at the end of each Virginia Studies unit. I usually end my Jamestown lesson plans, with a board game project. Students work in small groups to create a game, using the information they have learned. The objective is for students to successfully get the settlers from England to Jamestown and have them survive the first year. This is one of my students’ favorite Jamestown activities! After they have finished, we keep the games in the classroom. Students then use them as a review activity throughout the school year.

Conclusion

Using an assortment of fun Jamestown activities is a great way to get students excited about Virginia Studies. Most of the activities listed above can easily be replicated in your classroom, but if you are looking to save time, be sure to check out Jamestown Unit and Virginia Studies UnitBundle. Most of the activities listed here and many more can be found in these resources!

Also, make sure to bookmark Virginia is Teachers so that you never miss any of our tips for teaching Virginia Studies. Next month, I’ll be sharing ways to teach a Virginia Studies unit about Colonial Virginia. Until then, I hope your students have fun with these Jamestown activities!

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