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Lesson 11
Life on the Frontier


Subject Areas
• U.S. History - Colonial America and the New Nation
• U.S. History - Native Americans

Level
High school

Learning Objectives
After completing these activities, students will be able to:
• Give concrete examples of what life was like in Deerfield in the early 18th century
• Speculate on why an artifact might have been important to Deerfield inhabitants
• Compare and contrast their speculations with the findings of other classmates

Skills
• Investigating
• Observing and describing
• Interpreting written and visual information
• Comparing and contrasting
• Making inferences
• Thinking critically
• Representing ideas and information orally
• Working collaboratively
• Analyzing primary documents
• Information gathering and research

Time Required
One to two class periods

Introduction
In this lesson, students learn that they can use historical objects and documents as primary sources to help them gain an appreciation for people's lives during certain historical periods. Students learn how to describe what life may have been like for Native Americans and English colonists on the "frontier" of New England.

Guiding Questions
What information can an artifact reveal about life on the frontier in New England in the early 18th Century? Why might this item be important to the history of Deerfield, Massachusetts?

snowshoes

Artifacts: snowshoes,

  feathered headdress

feathered headdress,

  Stephen William's account

Stephen William's account

Preparing to Teach

  1. Become familiar with the early history of Deerfield by reading: English Colonization, by Kevin Sweeney, in the Explanations section of the 1704 website. From the Teacher Background Essays of the American Centuries website, read both Native American Presence in Deerfield, Massachusetts and Deerfield as a Frontier Settlement in 17th Century New England.

Teaching the Lesson

  1. If students are using computers in class, instruct them to complete the Student Activity Sheet for this lesson. If they will be using computers elsewhere, either give them the Student Activity Sheet URL (http://1704.deerfield.history.museum/teachers/lesson11_student.jsp), or print the Student Activity Sheet and distribute copies to students.
  2. Based on the items students choose, group students by a class-generated list of topics related to their items. For example, topics might include Native Americans, women, written documents, captivity, founding a town, etc.
  3. Once in groups, direct students to discuss what they have found and why it may be important to the lives of the people in 1704 Deerfield, and to Deerfield’s history. They should also speculate about what life may have been like for colonists and Native Americans during this time.
  4. Assemble the class as a whole to compare and contrast all of the speculations students have made. Each group should appoint a representative to present the group's findings to the rest of the class. Record general themes on a flipchart or blackboard.

From the Explanations Menu on the 1704 website:

  • English Colonization, by Kevin Sweeney

From In the Classroom of the American Centuries website, (www.americancenturies.mass.edu):

New England Outpost, by Richard Melvoin

This lesson was adapted from one by the same title created by Rick Rochstroh, a teacher at Mohawk Trail Regional School in Shelburne Falls, MA.

 

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