Duration: 1-2 class periods

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Roots of a Nation: A Chesapeake Journey Submitted by Jennifer Gunter

Grade Level: 5th grade

Duration: 1-2 class periods

Focus Question: How did the location of the Jamestown settlement affect the success of the settlement?

Alignment: 3A1b Use a globe and a variety of maps to identify natural/physical features of colonial settlements. 3A1c: Use photographs, maps, and drawings to describe geographic characteristics.

Lesson Objective: Students will be able to identify what natural/physical features of an area would make a settlement more likely to survive in 1600. Students will be able to use photos, maps, and drawings to examine the actual location of the Jamestown Settlement to explain the pros and cons of the settlers’ choice.

Vocabulary: peninsula, marsh, physical/natural features

Materials: Student sheet #1, #2, nautical chart of James River, pictures of marsh land, peninsula

Primary sources- John Smith’s map of 1612, Percy’s description of Jamestown

Instructional Procedures:

  1. Ask students why people would leave their homes to travel to a new world to settle.

  2. Set the stage: In May of 1607, 105 settlers reach the New World. They explore for about two weeks to find the perfect spot to start their settlement and build their fort. What do you think that site looked like? What physical/natural features would you have chosen spot have? What features would help your settlement survive in the New World?

  3. Have students discuss in small groups what features they would have looked for if they were trying to find a place to settle and why the chosen features were important. Have students complete student worksheet #1 independently or in small groups.

  4. Have students share out their top 3 features and discuss why they are important. Compile the results on the board.

  5. Display the nautical map of the James River. Identify the location of Jamestown, and have students identify the pros and cons of that location. (defense against the Spanish, defense against Indians, deep water- transportation, salt and brackish water, land for agriculture, etc.)

  6. Have students read selected sections of Percy’s description of Jamestown. Have students list the physical features mentioned.

  7. Display photographs of marshland. Add to the pros/con list created earlier.

  8. Tell the students that 50 percent of the Jamestown colonists died in part to the poor location of the settlement. Students must predict what other factors could be related to this high percentage of deaths. (drought, little ice age, Native Americans, lack of food and supplies, disease)


  1. Students vote on the following: Was the location of the Jamestown fort a good choice?

  2. Student Sheet #2

Extension: Compare the site chosen for Jamestown to other settlements such as Roanoke or Plymouth. How are they alike or different?

How did the Native American population affect the success of the colony? Explore the role of the Native Americans in the Plymouth colony.

Name__________________________________ Date___________________

Student Sheet #1

Look through the following word list and circle 3 physical/natural features that would be important when choosing the site to establish a colony in 1607.

river forest mountains

marsh saltwater river open fields

peninsula freshwater stream island

Directions: In the box below, sketch the layout of the land for your settlement using the 3 features you chose from the list above.

Explain why each feature you chose would be important when choosing a site to build your fort in 1607.

Physical/natural feature Why is this important?




c:\users\lucia\appdata\local\microsoft\windows\temporary internet files\content.ie5\6axs1hkz\mc900356307[1].wmf

Name________________________________ Date______________________________

Student Sheet #2

Predict: What other factors could be related to the location of the high percentage of deaths?


Directions: Write down the pros and cons of the place that the people chose to establish the Jamestown settlement.

Pros Cons


2._________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

3.______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________

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