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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview
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Lesson 9: A Research Project: A Discussion of the Recreating and Populating of a Colonial Village

Lesson Central Question:

In This Lesson:

If we develop and populate a convincing colonial village, what should be the characteristics?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas
Activity 1
Lesson Length

1 class period (85 minutes)

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Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher Background

Colonial communities were united in their beliefs and practices. The meeting house was the focal point of the community, serving as a house of worship and the center of town governance. A school was established. Gender roles were clearly defined. As time passed, the threat of danger from the Native Peoples receded, and the town grew and prospered. Tradesmen became an integral part of the reestablished community.

Teacher Backgroun Essay: The English Settlers in Deerfield

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  • the political, social, religious, and economic world and national context in which the events of Deerfield occurred.
  • that there were increasingly in this period competing political agendas, and competition for land, power, and wealth in Deerfield.
  • that in Massachusetts there was no division of church and state as we understand it, and this condition influenced every aspect of daily life.
  • that land ownership conferred power because it was a determinant of wealth, and a prerequisite for political participation.
  • that it is valuable to study the lives, actions, ideas, political experiences, and judgments of people in the past.
  • how historians approach their work, using both artifacts and documents.
  • that both primary source materials and interpretive materials of all types are rich sources of historical evidence.

Students will be able to:

  • use a variety of primary source materials, to analyze these sources, and to make logical inferences and supported conclusions.
  • make reference to previously presented material.
  • utilize technology to research information and present projects.
  • compare and contrast events in Deerfield with world and national events.

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In Preparation for Teaching

Read the Teacher Background Essay: The English Settlers in Deerfield

Further Background Reading:

McGowan, Susan and Miller, Amelia. Family and Landscape: Deerfield Homelots from 1671. Deerfield, Massachusetts: Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, 1996.

Hawke, David Freeman. Everyday Life in Early America. New York: Harper And Row, 1989.

Deetz, James. In Small Things Forgotten. New York: Doubleday, 1996.

Dublin Seminar. New England Meeting House and Church: 1630-1850. Boston: Boston University, 1979.

Dublin Seminar. Puritan Gravestone Art. Boston: Boston University, 1976.

Forbes, Harriette. Gravestones of Early New England and the Men Who Made Them - 1653-1800. Boston: Houghton, 1927.

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Primary and Secondary Sources:

1. A list of occupations in Deerfield during the colonial period.

2. From Memorial Hall Website: "People and Places" entries for family names.

3. Singer of History: Lucy Terry Prince by David Proper.

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Activities Materials in Context

Activity 1

1. The teacher will give a brief overview of the proposed project to be completed as a culmination of the unit. There will be a presentation by the class. Students will be asked to:

a. adopt a character (male, female, or child)
b. develop the persona based on family position, social status, and economic conditions.
c. give the person a name (taken from the Deerfield families in Sheldon: Williams, Hoit, Stebbins, Hawkes, Wells, Allen)
d. make an appearance with costume or prop.
e. participate in a situation or event that would reflect the times.

One person will act as the narrator, setting the stage for the presentation. In this way, the town of Deerfield will be reconstituted in a format similar to "Our Town."

A list of colonial occupations will be given from which the students will select one for their colonial person. Information about this occupation should become an integral part of the presentation of their character. Artifacts and documents from the web site should be referenced in the dialogue. This work will be the homework during the last 4 lessons of the unit, which will relate to this exercise.

2. As a class, invite the students to generate a rubric to be used in assessment.

3. The teacher will provide a list of colonial occupations that will become the work of the person to be developed.

4. Invite students to brainstorm about how they think one can best develop a persona and then portray the life of that colonial person. (Remember they are not we and we are not they!)

5. Ask the students to access the Memorial Hall Website, completing a search of the Digital Collection for specific individuals during the 1680-1720 period. They should also visit all sections of the "Turns of the Centuries" exhibit on the same time period.

6. Invite student to do a preliminary selection of the family in which to place their character based on a preliminary search of the website. Search "People and Places" 1680-1790.

7. Invite students to begin to "sketch" out the composite person and the situation that they will develop, developing a short summary for the teacher. Begin the research.
(carpenter, minister, physician, hatter, weaver, wheelwright, tools, trade) using a collection of printed materials and the website.

Commence work on the Colonial person. As background to the virtual field trip, read Singer of History: Lucy Terry Prince by David Proper














occupations in Deerfield




"The Turns of the Centuries Exhibit"

"People and Places"




Singer of History: Lucy Terry Prince

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