Present the following scenario to your students. You can either read it to them or enlist students to act it out. The scenario is about two children who lived in 1734 and were the age of your students.

“Anna Elizabeth and her brother Samuel live in a small house with a thatched roof. Their father built the house himself. Both children help their parents by completing many chores each day.

Anna Elizabeth is learning how to run a home. She feeds the chickens and gathers eggs each morning. Her mother is teaching her how to spin yarn and weave cloth on a loom. She already knows how to make candles and soap. Anna Elizabeth helps her mother prepare three meals every day.

Samuel helps his father farm by taking care of the large animals. He uses hand tools, makes furniture, and hunts small animals. Samuel also has to chop wood for cooking and heating the house.

Samuel has the opportunity to attend school during three to five months of the year. Girls do not attend school, so Anna Elizabeth’s mother is teaching her how to read and write at home.

The two children do get to have fun. They play games like blind man’s bluff, hopscotch, and jacks. Their favorite drink is tea, and they love to eat pumpkin. You can see that Anna Elizabeth and Samuel led very different lives from children today.”

Lesson Activities

  1. Lead your students in a discussion of how children’s lives were different during colonial times than they are now. Use the attached Venn diagram to make this comparison or have the students do their own Venn diagrams.
  2. Ask the students to use the information from the Venn diagram to write a letter to either Anna Elizabeth or Samuel. They can commiserate with the colonial children about how hard their lives were or tell about how children’s lives are now.

Additional Reading

Suggested Books

Crane, Carol. P is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2007.

Farley, Karin Clafford. Duel in the Wilderness. Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2004.

Yolen, Jane. The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History. New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2004.

Suggested Websites

History Now, Issue Twelve

America’s Story from America’s Library

Historic Jamestowne

New Netherlands

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