Activities to Teach Students About Southern Colonies: Founding and Government
The Southern Colonies, also known as the Chesapeake Colonies, were established in the early 1600s in the present-day states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. These colonies were founded primarily to expand trade and extract natural resources such as tobacco, rice, and indigo. As the colonies grew, they developed unique forms of government and systems of labor. Here are some activities to help students learn about the founding and government of the Southern Colonies.
1. Map-making and Exploration
One way to introduce students to the Southern Colonies is to have them create maps of the region. This activity could begin with a discussion of the motivations for European exploration of the Americas and the role of geography in shaping colonial settlement patterns. Students can label important landmarks, such as the Jamestown Settlement and the Savannah River, and identify the major products and export markets of each colony.
2. Jamestown Simulation
Jamestown, Virginia, is often considered the first permanent English colony in North America. To help students understand how the colony was founded and governed, consider conducting a simulation in which students are assigned roles as colonists, Native Americans, or English officials. Students can role-play events such as the establishment of the Jamestown colony, the arrival of the Powhatan chiefdom, and the first General Assembly of Virginia.
3. Plantation Life
The Southern Colonies relied heavily on the labor of enslaved Africans on large plantations. To help students understand the life of enslaved people in the region, consider introducing them to slave narratives and songs, such as those compiled by the Federal Writers’ Project during the New Deal. Students can also explore primary sources such as plantation maps and inventories to understand the organization of labor on plantations.
4. Comparative Government Analysis
One way to help students understand the unique forms of government that emerged in the Southern Colonies is to have them compare and contrast the colonial governments of Virginia and Maryland. Virginia’s government was characterized by a bicameral legislature and a strong governor, while Maryland’s government had an elected assembly and a proprietor who held significant power. Students can evaluate the impact of these different models of government on the colonists’ lives and the development of the colonies.
5. Debate and Discussion
Finally, consider incorporating debates and discussions into lessons about the Southern Colonies’ founding and government. Topics for debate could include the role of religion in colonial settlement, the justifications for enslavement, and the impact of the Enlightenment on colonial political thought. Encourage students to engage with primary sources and to use evidence to support their arguments.
In conclusion, teaching students about the founding and government of the Southern Colonies can be a rich and rewarding endeavor. By engaging with primary sources and participating in interactive activities, students can develop a deeper understanding of the complex social, political, and economic forces that shaped the region.