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Teaching Guide

Teaching Puritan Settlement in New England

Let it snow!

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We're not going to try to tackle the motivations behind the Puritans' sense of style (buckles, buckles everywhere!) but we can help you elaborate on other aspects of Puritan life, from their religion to the hardships of early American life.

In this guide you will find

  • activities analyzing historical documents like "The Day of Doom" and "The New England Primer." Ah, we love the smell of brimstone in the morning.
  • current articles from the New York Times and Huffington Post exploring the Puritans' legacy.
  • literary resources on The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible.

So buckle your seat belt (and your shoes and your hat) and get your students ready for a wild (by Puritanical standards) ride.

What's Inside Shmoop's History Teaching Guides

Shmoop is a labor of love from folks who love to teach. Our teaching guides will help you supplement in-classroom learning with fun, engaging, and relatable learning materials that bring history to life.

Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 3-5 Common Core-aligned activities (including quotation, image, and document analysis) to complete in class with your students, with detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes to be sure students are looking at the material through various lenses.
  • Resources to help make the topic feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the topic and how you can overcome the hurdles.

Instructions for You

Objective: Timelines are great for putting a specific movement or era in perspective and helping your students to visualize the way in which events played out. And when your students create their own timelines, choosing which events to highlight and how to represent them, those events (and that era) are more likely to stick with them long term. 

In this exercise your students will identify institutions and practices developed by the Puritans that grew to become important parts of American life by choosing and placing on a timeline five events or developments that will become part of "the American way."

Length of Lesson: 1-2 class periods. One class to give the assignment and let students work on it, and up to another full period for students to share their work.

Materials Needed:

  • Whatever art materials, software, or apps your students choose to use in creating their timelines. You can go high tech and refer them to Tiki-Toki or TimeToast, or you can go old school with paper & pencil or scissors, magazines, posterboard, and glue. 
  • (Optional) Access to Shmoop's New England Puritans & Pilgrims learning guide for research

Step One: Ask your students to select and place on a timeline five events, developments, institutions, or practices from the Puritan community that will become part of "the American way."

(Possible answers include: the Mayflower Compact, 1620; Private property rights are established, 1627; Harvard is founded, 1636; the first book is printed, 1640; the basic rights of citizens are drawn up, 1641; law is passed requiring that towns establish schools, 1647)

Remind them that they can be as creative as they like in formatting their timelines. True, each event or individual must be tied to a specific date or time frame, and there should be a brief caption to explain what happened on that date (i.e., "Japanese troops bomb Pearl Harbor," or "Supreme Court rules on Brown v. Board of Education"), but those are the only constraints. 

When it comes to the layout, anything from the traditional linear model in black and white or a slightly spiffed up version to the uber-visual, image-heavy will do. Of course, with just a few dates, they're not likely to get too convoluted, but they can try. 

Step Two: When the timelines are completed, give students a chance to present them. They can either share them in small groups, present them to the class through individual oral reports, or post them around the room and do a gallery walk.

Instructions for Your Students

Timeline time!

Timelines are great for putting a specific movement or era in perspective and helping you to visualize the way it all played out.

Several quintessentially American practices and values are developed in the Puritan colonies. In this activity, you'll select and place on a timeline five events or developments that will become part of "the American way." Ready? 

Step One: Um... we kind of already said this part, but we'll say it again. Select five events, developments, institutions, or practices from the Puritan community that will become part of "the American way" and place them on a timeline.

As you do, remember this:

  • You can use whatever art materials, software, or apps you want to create your timeline. You can go high tech use something like Tiki-Toki or TimeToast, or you can go old school with paper & pencil or scissors, magazines, posterboard, and glue.
  • Each event or individual you choose to highlight must be tied to a specific date or time frame, and there should be a brief caption to explain what happened on that date (i.e., "Japanese troops bomb Pearl Harbor," or "Supreme Court rules on Brown v. Board of Education").
  • In terms of format, you can use anything from a traditional linear model in black and white or a slightly spiffed up version to an uber-visual, image-heavy approach. Of course, with just a few dates, your timeline isn't likely to get too convoluted, but you can try.

Step Two: When all of the timelines are completed, you'll have a chance to present yours, either by sharing it in a small group, presenting it to the class oral report style, or posting it in the classroom and doing a gallery walk so you can see everyone else's, too.

WANT MORE HELP TEACHING PURITAN SETTLEMENT IN NEW ENGLAND?

Check out all the different parts of our corresponding learning guide.

Intro    Summary & Analysis    Timeline    People    Facts    Photos    Best of the Web    Citations    
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