A Royal Charter From the King

Notes to the Teacher

Know ye that His Royal Highness, the King of England, has hereby offered his approval to a venture establishing a colony across the seas on the shores of North America. This privilege has been extended to thy group contingent upon thou providing plans for such a colony. Such plans will, to the best available knowledge, insure the success of the colony and the health and welfare of the King's subjects.

The Task

You have been assigned the task of creating a proposal for a new colony. This work is to be very comprehensive because an error on your part may cost the lives of many colonists.

Your proposal should consist of two parts: a presentation and a model of the settlement.

The Process

To more efficiently carry out these tasks, your teacher may organize your class into three smaller groups: Political, Economic, and Social. After doing your research separately, work within your groups to design your part of the presentation for the King. Your presentation could be written, oral, multimedia, video, or any combination of these, with the approval of the Royal Inspector. Reform as a whole class to design your model of the colony.


This group is assigned the task of deciding how the colony shall be governed. His Majesty is most anxious that the administration of the settlement be fair and efficient. Although you may wish to have a single individual who is ultimately responsible to the Crown for the overall running of the colony, order and efficiency cannot depend upon one person. Assignment of various important functions shall need to be made. Consider the following needs of the colony:


It is most important that the colonists survive and prosper. To that end, each person must have something to employ their time to the best advantage of himself and the colony. Not every person can or should be engaged in growing food nor in any one thing. There must be a balance among all the work so that every person is dependent on the others to live. You must decide the following:


People in the colony will be living from day to day. How well they live will be determined by your group. Yours is possibly the hardest job since your decisions will affect every colonist personally. If you are wrong, it could cost some lives. Perhaps the best way to approach your job is to follow a typical colonist through a day from the time they get up until they go to sleep. For example:

Additional Resources

Ye Olde Library

His Majesty is most anxious for this project to succeed and has therefore alerted the Royal School Librarian to assist you in any way possible.

Ye Olde Encyclopedia

This should be one of your primary sources for information. Remember to use the INDEX volume first.

Ye Olde Internet

"Get thee into cyberspace." The royal inspectors and other folk have been busy finding places along the King's Information Highway for you to stop and find out information that you need to help you to complete your task. Take full advantage of these sites. Since the King has spent some big time bucks and time in arranging these sites for your edification, His Royal Highness will be most upset if you do not use them!

General Information

Colonial American History Resources
First Ten Newspapers in America
Colonial Williamsburg Historical Almanack
General Background and Colonial Links
The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story - a different point of view
The Colonial Period


"How do I know when I am done?"

  1. Do you have a clear presentation that contains original information that you wrote in your own words?
  2. Are you ready to give your presentation to the Royal Inspector and the Royal Commission?
  3. Have you helped make the model of the settlement making sure that your part is as accurate as possible?

If you can answer yes to these three things, then you are done.


There were three parts to this project: Political, Social, and Economic. Why do societies need a balance of all three to function? Describe what a society would be like if the political needs outweighed the social and economic needs. Describe a society where social or economic needs have outweighed the others.


How did you contribute to the presentation that your group put together? How did your group decide what information they needed to contribute to the model-building?


The British colonized many countries besides America. In fact, it was said that "the sun never sets on the British Empire". Research the differences between the American colonies and another group of colonies (ie. Africa, Australia, Canada, India,...) and explain how the American colonies differed.

Notes to the Teacher

Lesson Title: English Settlements in North America, A Royal Charter from the King

Curricular Area: History - Social Science

Many children, from the comfort of their homes, do not have an appreciation of the primitive, remote, uncertain and perilous conditions under which early colonists came to the shores of North America. This lesson is designed to give them a greater appreciation of the many decisions (some vital to existence) that had to be made and faced.

"Wherever possible, events should be seen through the eyes of participants such as explorers, American Indians, colonists, free blacks and slaves, children, or pioneers." "Students should learn about the political, religious, economic, and social life of the colonists. They should be helped to envision their simple homes and rigors of each day." (History Social-Science Framework for California Public Schools, 1997)

Grade Level: 5
Although intended for 5th grade, this exercise would be quite appropriate for both middle school and high school students by simply requiring higher standards of performance.

Length of Lesson: 2 weeks

Materials: Materials appropriate for constructing a model settlement, good reference materials, social studies text.

Interdisciplinary Connection: Language Arts

Teacher Resources:
The PBS series "Roanoake" shows in wonderful detail many of the contrasts between the white settlers and the native American population. It also gives the students a new perspective on who or what is a "savage." Although the show is three hours long it holds the attention of students if presented in one hour segments. CAUTION: Although this is a PBS documentary and wonderfully done, I strongly suggest that you preview the program since there is some graphic violence.

Prerequisite Learning:
Students need to know the events leading up to the founding of the North American English colonies in the South and New England. This will give them a reasonable background to appreciate the problems and failures of many of the earlier colonies.

The content of this exercise is sufficient that you can, if you wish, engage the entire class in individual learning objectives. However, to make this project turn into a viable colony the students must check with one another for possible overlaps and/or conflicts. They need to learn how to sort out these problems to arrive at a smooth running solution. You might remind your students that monarchs back in those days had a short tolerance for big egos. Although this will entail "cooperative learning," this type of interaction is most likely outside of their experience and the students will have to "work it out" for themselves with some guidance from the Royal Inspector (you).

It would be a good idea to alert your school librarian, several days in advance of this activity, so that he/she might have adequate time to arrange any of the library's resources that might be available and pertinent.


Stuart Kornbluth
Bonnie Oehl Elementary
San Bernardino City USD