Activity Overview

Starting a unit or lesson with the key vocabulary that students will see in their readings or presentations aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key vocabulary related to the 13 Colonies.

Students will preview the terms and definitions and use whole class or small group discussion to demonstrate their understanding of each meaning. Then, they will create a Spider map of 3-5 terms at the teachers discretion. Each cell will contain a term, its definition and an illustration that depicts the meaning. When students define and illustrate each term, they master the application of it and retain it as part of their lexicon.

Vocabulary for Colonial America

Colonial Regions: Areas in North American where different industries and ways of life developed because of differences in climate, geography and natural resources.

Economy: The way that a particular region or country organizes the manufacture and exchange of things such as money, food, products and services.

Democratic: Relating to a form of government in which people have the power to rule themselves, often through elected representatives

Diverse: People of many different backgrounds

Indentured Servants: In Colonial America, individuals who agree to work for a period of time in return for the cost of coming to America. After their debt was repaid, they were to leave their servitude.

Grant: To give to something to someone of lower rank as a favor or privilege.

Assembly: A body of lawmakers

Industry:A group of businesses that produce certain goods or services

Plantation:In the 1700s, a large farm usually found in the Southern colonies on which cash crops are grown most often with the labor of enslaved people.

West Indies: Islands that lie between southeastern North America and northern South America, and separate the Caribbean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. These islands were colonized by European powers like Spain and Great Britain in the 1500s and 1600s to the destruction of the indigenous populations that lived there. In the 1700s, European colonizers used enslaved people stolen from Africa to work their profitable sugar and coffee plantations. Sugar was used to make molasses and rum which was widely traded throughout colonial America and Europe.

Apprentice: A person who learns an occupation by getting experience under a skilled worker

Dame School: A school for girls where they learned prayers, the alphabet, knitting and sewing

Trade: A craft or an occupation that requires manual, artistic or mechanical skill

Craftsman: A person who works at a job that requires manual or artistic skill.

Politics: The activities of governments and the people who work in them

Slavery: A condition in which one human being was owned by another. An enslaved person was considered by law as the property of their enslaver. An enslaved person had their human rights denied and was forced to work for another person.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a spider map that demonstrates understanding of different words using both an illustration and a definition.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Using the provided list and/or terms provided by the teacher, choose 3 terms to define.
  3. In the title boxes, identify the key terms you have chosen.
  4. In the description boxes, write the definition of the term.
  5. Create an illustration for each term using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  6. Save often!

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 3-6

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual

Type of Activity: Visual Vocabulary Boards

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/6-8/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Define and illustrate each of the key terms.
7 Points
4 Points
1 Points
The vocabulary words are correctly defined.
The meaning of the vocabulary words can be understood but it is somewhat unclear.
The vocabulary word is not clearly defined
The storyboard illustrations clearly depict the meaning of the vocabulary words.
The illustrations relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words but it they are difficult to understand.
The illustrations do not clearly relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

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13 Colonies

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