History Camp: Life in Colonial Times

Explore what life was like in the colonial era! The master teacher will discuss topics such as thinking like a historian, colonial fashion, food, recreation, and the diverse day-to-day experiences of the eighteenth century. Students will be encouraged to find evidence of life in colonial America by looking at documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and other primary sources. After learning about a new topic each week, students will complete a hands-on activity.

Key information

  • The course begins on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.
  • Classes occur once a week for six weeks.
  • Class will not meet on July 21.
  • Classes will begin at 4:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. PT.
  • Weekly classes are 45 minutes in length on Zoom. These sessions will incorporate lectures and activities conducted on the Zoom chat, polls, Q&As, and discussions.

Intended Audience

This class is for upper elementary students (grades 3–5). Parents, teachers, and other adults are encouraged to view the class recordings, which will be made available on this course page.


Registration is for the full 6-session course. Students must have a Gilder Lehrman account to register for a History School course. Create a free account here. Students under 13 must be registered by a parent/guardian. Please follow the instructions on the registration page.

Register Here

Week 1

Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 4:00 p.m. ET

History Mysteries: History is much more than facts and dates, and in this session, student sleuths will examine evidence of the past and solve historical mysteries, making connections just like historians do.

Week 2

Wednesday, July 7, 2021, 4:00 p.m. ET

Help Wanted!: Who really did the work in colonial America? This question will be central to our examination of labor in the colonies, and student craftsmen will have the opportunity to fashion their own silver or tin piece.

Week 3

Wednesday, July 14, 2021, 4:00 p.m. ET

Project Runway, Colonial Edition: Petticoats, wigs, and pockets, oh my! From fashion to function, we will explore the clothing that defined the colonial era and student designers will craft their own cap or wig.

Week 4

Wednesday, July 28, 2021, 4:00 p.m. ET

Cooking in the Colonies: What’s for dinner? After learning about some popular colonial dishes, student chefs will be able to create some tasty treats for their own families.

Week 5

Wednesday, August 4, 2021, 4:00 p.m. ET

Do Hornbooks Make Music?: Together we will explore this question and more, looking at who was able to go to school and what their education was like. Our “colonial pupils” will also have the opportunity to create their very own hornbook.

Week 6

Wednesday, August 11,  2021, 4:00 p.m. ET

No Video Games?!: Without computers, what could the colonial kids possibly have done for fun? Find out about the clever games and toys they played with and even make a colonial toy of your very own!

Note: The course dOES not meet on Wednesday,  JULY 21.

Meet Your Teacher

Stacie Christensen, a twenty-year educator teaching fifth grade in Boise, Idaho, guides her students with an overarching theme of Civil Rights and the human experience. “Shine on!” is an oft-repeated phrase to remind her students that their story counts and it’s their turn to change the world. A self-proclaimed professional-development junkie, Christensen actively seeks opportunities to deepen and refine her practice. She has been awarded numerous grants to study American history and in 2016, she served as a Civil War Washington Teacher’s Fellow with Ford’s Theatre. The state of Idaho recognized her achievements working for her district developing curriculum and mentoring new teachers and awarded her Master Teacher status in 2020. Also in 2020, Christensen was named Idaho History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute; she was also one of twelve finalists for National History Teacher of the Year. She has since joined the Gilder Lehrman Institute as a Master Teacher and the National Humanities Center’s Teacher Advisory Council, where she is eager to advance the teaching and learning of history and the humanities.

Participation Certificate

Students who attend 5 out of 6 classes can get a certificate from the Gilder Lehrman Institute confirming their participation in this History School course.

Please email historyschool@gilderlehrman.org with any questions.