Many of the activities we have offered at Colonial Day at the Capitol are based on lesson plans and ideas that Oklahoma teachers have brought back from the Colonial Williamsburg and George Washington Teacher Institutes. Below are some ideas and resources for planning Colonial Day activities for your students.
Patriot-Loyalist Debate – In this large-group activity, students are assigned roles and participate in a debate over whether to remain loyal to Great Britain or declare independence and establish a new nation. Lesson plans for the Patriot-Loyalist debate are available in the book “Colonial America: A Complete Theme Unit Developed in Cooperation With The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation“ by Mary Kay Carson, published by Scholastic in 1999. In addition, Colonial Day Director Teresa Potter offers this “Read, Write, Create, Debate” Teacher Guide and PowerPoint.
A Colonial Trial Play – This colonial hog trial play is inspired by an actual trial that took place in the Williamsburg, Va., courthouse in 1771. The activity introduces students to Virginia’s 18th-century court system. This Colonial Williamsburg lesson plan, “Order in the Court: An Eighteenth Century Trial,” includes primary sources documents and a teachers guide.
In addition to large-group activities, here are examples of small-group activities teachers have led for groups of 15 to 30 students.
Additional lesson plans and educational videos on many of these topics are available online on the Colonial Williamsburg Educational Resource Library. For more information, contact Colonial Day at the Capitol director Teresa Potter or OFE Early American History Programs liaison Brenda Wheelock.
Literature Contest: What It Means to Be an American
One possible activity to sponsor in conjunction with your Colonial Day is a literature contest. For many years, Colonial Day at the Capitol has held a literature contest with the theme “What it means to be an American.” Participants may enter works of fiction or nonfiction in prose, poetry, essay or narrative.
The winner of the Colonial Day literature contest has been recognized during the opening ceremonies of Colonial Day and asked to read his or her winning entry. In the past, we have had special guests such as Thomas Jefferson or Martha Washington present the award.
For Colonial Day at the Capitol, we present a $100 prize and a plaque to the winner. We also take a photo of the recipient and do a news release for his or her hometown newspaper.
Sample Literature Contest Entry Form