13 Colony Reports

Mr. Robert James, a 5th grade teacher in PA, created a solid colonial brochure project for his class and posted the guidelines along with the rubrics he uses on his class Google site. I came across his site when I started teaching 5th grade a few years ago, and I’ve been doing this project with my class since. My kiddos create a brochure, just as outlined by Mr. James for his class. The students are then able to dress up as the governor of their colonies as they present a speech to convince the parent and student audience to settle in their colony.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who will find Mr. James’s project outline helpful, so I provided links to the resources I use for my class’s 13 Colony Report below. As mentioned, the guidelines and brochure rubric are credited to Robert James. You can view his website here. I use his wording in the overview I created for my class. You will find my overview along with links to Mr. James’s overview and scripted notes below. I also provided a link to a Weebly of approved websites I designed to help students when researching.  Last, I included a video I created a few years ago to explain the project to my class while I had a substitute. I then decided to share the video with parents since it provided an overview of the project, and they found it very helpful. I now share this video with parents each year.

13 Colony Websites

Mrs. Caso’s 13 Colony Weebly  – created to help students research online

Assignment Overview, Guidelines and Rubric

Original Guidelines and Rubrics (created by Robert James) – I plan to use the feedback form on the last page this year.

Scripted Notes (created by Robert James)


4 State Capital Videos for 5th Grade Geography

I use the following videos when covering the state capitals in my 5th grade classroom. Since I have a class blog (KidBlog), I post a video each week to keep this content fresh and exciting. My students with strong musical intelligences eat this up, but the videos are enjoyed by all. Here they are, in the order that I share them.

1. Wakko’s 50 State Capitals with Lyrics

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Pilgrim Infographic – 5th Grade Social Studies

Understanding the difference between Puritans, Separatists, Saints, Strangers, and Pilgrims if difficult, especially for a 5th grader. To illustrate the differences we acted it out in class which was very helpful. I put this infographic together to review the differences. Feel free to download and print if you find it useful.

Puritan, Pilgrims, Separatists Infographic

Elementary Grandparents/Significant Elder Project

interesting-grandparents-day-clipart-1National Grandparents Day is celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day in the United States, BUT my school will be celebrating Grandparents Day this upcoming Friday. That afternoon, we have a celebration. The whole school gathers with students’ families, grandparents and grandfriends, and each grade goes on stage to perform or present something. It’s sweet to see how excited students are to have their grandparent at school and showcase something for them.

Last year, we created grandparent similes and metaphors. These were a lot of fun…and funny! It was a hit, and I loved that it was academic. It fits right in with our focus on figurative language in ELA, so I plan to do it again this year.

But this year, I’m also adding something different. A couple questions from a weekly assignment triggered an idea last week…In this weeks Social Studies Weekly assignment, students were asked to respond to the following questions.

ssw copy

imgres-1This got me thinking, Will students really be able to grasp how communicating instantaneously can be detrimental? Which led to — Do they have any idea of what society was like for previous generations? Which led to — My students are always on the go with such busy schedules. Do they ever just sit and chat with older relatives? Do they know how different it was to be a student just 30 years ago? Which led to — I remember doing an interview assignment when I was younger that made me have a conversation with my grandmother about her upbringing and childhood. 

And when my thoughts get going like this, what do I do? Google (because I am in the twenty-first century and I can).  So, I did some researchin’.

2007 ancestry.com study revealed that Americans know “surprisingly little about their own families”. A USA Today article described the generation gap in the workplace today and how different generations are having difficulties communicating because they do not understand one another. This can arguably be connected to the ancestry study, the fact that younger generations don’t know or understand much about their own grandparents. It begins here, with one’s personal prior knowledge and experience, right?

Workplace effects aside, communicating with grandparents fosters a close rgrandparents-grandkidselationship between grandparent and grandchild. Unfortunately, many student’s lives are so scheduled and scripted now that there is less time for dinner conversations and grandparent chats, and many families are scattered across the country. Maybe this is the reason we know so little; we don’t actually take the time, or have the time, to talk and listen.

As an educator, I want to enable my students to have conversations with their grandparents. Hey, if we require an assignment in class, we can facilitate this learning. Make it possible! If my students’ engagement during social studies is any indication of their interest, I believe that my kiddos will love to learn about their grandparent’s history.

Endpoint, I’ve seen the smiles on my students’ faces and their outward joy as they share with grandparents on Grandparents Day, and I’d like to provide another opportunity for sharing (and learning) through the use of a Grandparent Interview Project.  So, with the help a few online resources (credited below), I put the following project together for my 5th grade class.

Click the images for access to the complete printable documents. Contact me if you would like to make revisions, and I can email either document to you.

GPP copy

This Interview Sheet contains 17 questions and a lined page for additional notes. It is appropriate for upper elementary students.

GPPI copy

I pulled information from the following resources to create the 5th grade friendly forms above.
Credit: http://www.deangeli.lapeer.org/lessons/ctb_lesson/student_guide/ and http://www.teachers.net/gazette/AUG08/printables/#one