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Lesson Plans - How Does Your Mama Make Breakfast?

NAME OF LESSON: How Does Your Mama Make Breakfast?
GRADE(S) DESIGNED FOR: 2/3 (multi-age classroom)

Three or four 40-minute class periods (option of one class period for field trip)


Alayne A. Fix                 

An Industrious People: American Economic History

SALEM in History Topic Addressed:

Women and Work in Colonial New England

Lesson Summary | Frameworks | Essential Question(s) | Lesson Objectives
Historical Background Essay | Materials List and Pre-Arrangements/Preparations Needed
Vocabulary | Lesson Activities | Student Product or Performance
Assessment Criteria | Possible Modifications | Possible Extension Activities
Cross Curricular/Interdisciplinary Links/Activities | Sources and Resources
Additional Resources for Students and Teachers


In this lesson, students will analyze the diverse and multi-faceted roles of colonial women by examining a select set of artifacts in the Ward House (at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA). Students will be able to identify and discuss the work done by colonial women and appreciate the efforts made by these women to help sustain the economic wellbeing of their households. Students will compare family life and home economics in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to life in 2005 in Salem.

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Fireback, 1684.  John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Trammel, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Candle Mold, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Warming Pan, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Andirons, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Salt-cellar, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Chest, for meal, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA

Trough, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA

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1. What kinds of work did colonial women do?

2. How much of their day was involved in work?

3. What objects and tools did they use to accomplish their work every day?

3. What are the objects in the Ward House?

4. What were the items used for?

5. What do the objects tell us about the work that colonial women did?

6. What is different about women’s housework today versus their work in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries?  

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  • Students will be able to carefully analyze artifacts for economic and social significance using the guiding questions provided.
  • Students will be able to understand the work role of women in the seventieth and eighteenth centuries and make connections to the roles of women today.
  • Students will be able to recognize some of the challenges faced by colonial women in their day-to-day lives.


  • Students will observe, interpret and analyze primary sources i.e. artifacts and houses.
  • Students will discuss connections between a particular historic era and larger social, economical and cultural trends.
  • Students will be able to identify the location of the Ward House on a current day map of Salem 
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3.8 (Geography) On a map of Massachusetts locate the class’s hometown or city and its geographic features or landmarks.  


Grade 3 : New England and Massachusetts


3.4: Explain how the Puritans and Pilgrims differed and identify early leaders in Massachusetts, such as John Winthrop; describe the daily life, education, and work of the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

3.8: On a map of Massachusetts, locate the class’s home town or city and its local geographic features and landmarks.

3.9: Identify historic buildings, monuments, or sites in the area and explain their purpose and significance.

3.11: Identify when the students’ own town or city was founded, and describe the different groups of people who have settled in the community since its founding.

3.12: Explain how objects or artifacts of everyday life in the past tell us how ordinary people lived and how everyday life has changed. Draw on the services of the local historical society and local museums as needed.



Grade 3


Observe visual sources such as historical paintings, photographs or illustrations that accompany historical narratives and describe details such as clothing, setting or action

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The work of New England women in the 17th  and 18 th centuries was essential to the economic sustainability and smooth functioning of their households. Even though it is often hard to track women’s economic activities in the colonial era, (because so few left written records) by expanding our understanding of what is meant by economic activity and where we look for it.  Women worked not just in shops but also in kitchens; they labored not just on farms, but in towns or cities.  We can see how the daily work of women contributed to the economic wellbeing of their families. In their daily work, women carried out a wide range of tasks required for both subsistence and a family’s economic growth. Women made a significant difference in the economic life of their families and the colonial world more generally.

In Good Wives, noted historian, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, compares the roles of colonial women to four different skilled laborers: skilled manufacturers, pharmacists and midwives, resourceful traders, and the “business of service.” As skilled manufacturers, colonial ladies worked the wool and flax from which they constructed their family’s clothes.  They operated dairying and textile-processing equipment. Sometimes, they operated thriving home industries such as laundry enterprises or retail stores. But, more often, they served as the head agriculturist for their families.   Colonial women raised peas, beans, turnips, onions, and cabbage as staples for their gardens. They seeded, hoed, weeded, and watered the prized plants that nurtured and strengthened their families.  They served as pharmacists and midwives. As a resourceful trader, the colonial woman augmented in the family’s resources and obtained items that her family did not make or grow.  She cleverly scouted, hawked, and bargained for every ingredient needed to assemble family dinners.  Ulrich declares that this was no easy task in a time that lacked any center for retail trade.  “Sugar, wine, and spices came by the sea; fresh lamb, veal, eggs, butter, gooseberries, and parsnips came by land" and “[t]rade rather than manufacturing or agriculture, was the dominant motif in her meal preparations.” (1) Finally, the colonial woman was involved in the business of “service”.  Her virtue inspired and directed her servants and her children.  The colonial woman’s duties included extending a helping hand to the poor and providing the model of wisdom and kindness that served to center her family and ground the community.(2) Ultimately, Ulrich points out that, “Colonial women understood the rhythms of the seasons, the technology of fire building, the persistence of the daily demands of cooking, the complexity of home production, and the dexterity demanded from the often conflicting roles of housekeeping, mother and wife.” (3)    

Women's work was never done. Women faced daily chores that kept them busy from the earliest hours of daybreak until dark much of the year. Colonial women tended the garden, raised poultry and looked after milk cows.  They took care of numerous children and cared for the sick while they spun threads from which they wove cloth.   Their duties included whitewashing the house and raising vegetables. Women carried out the day- to-day backbreaking labor of preparing and preserving food, raising and killing livestock, hauling water, and building and tending fires; and in between, bearing, breast-feeding, and caring for young children.(4)

In New England, colonial wives marked each calendar year with the beginning of the endless, perpetual duties that sustained the family. In early spring the first young calves appeared.  Their meat sustained the family during times of hardship.  New England women devoted thirty to forty hours (usually in early summer) processing their milk into fine cheeses that would be eaten by the family or traded for other goods.  The gardening and harvesting months quickly followed the dairy months. Autumn was the beginning of the slaughtering season.  Ulrich describes a colonial woman killing small pig “…holding their hinder parts between her legs…. and taking the snout in her left hand…. she stuck the animal through the heart with a long knife.”(5)  She wasted nothing. New England women were versatile chemists.  They understood the delicate processes involved in changing “…milk into cheese, meal into bread, malt into beer and flesh into bacon....”(6)  The animal was processed into sausages, roasts, bacon and ham.  Fall was also the season for cider making. The mildly alcoholic drink was staple of the New England diet.  Next, housewives brewed the family’s yearly supply of strong beer. 

Many New England women, especially in rural settings, lived in conditions not much above the subsistence level of income. Feeding a family required complex skills.  Most families lived on farms.  They raised most of their own food and produced flax and wool needed to make cloth.  In addition, most families raised at least one crop to trade.  The idea of a family producing everything that it required was rarely realized.  Families needed to trade crops, goods, and services to make their lives more comfortable. A wife had to identify, establish and then use a network of people to trade with in order to procure the other foodstuffs and goods she needed to feed her family. She generally would not have used cash, but rather would trade for other goods with those that she grew or made.   One aspect of this bartering economy depended on the skill of colonial women to keep abreast of the arrival of ships in the harbor. Women needed to carefully assess the variety of nonstandard goods that could be exchanged.  In the given setting, trading for food might involve as much energy and skill as growing it.(7)

A woman’s environment was not limited to her family, her dwelling and her yard. Ulrich states, “of necessity, the boundaries of each woman’s world also extended into the houses of neighbors and into the cart ways of a village or town.”(8)   Colonial women were neither completely isolated nor completely self-sufficient.  They helped one another to survive in cruel conditions. In early New England, it was expected that each individual look after one’s neighbors. Acts of charity were considered the personal responsibility of each citizen.(9)

Since few families ever saw a physician or visited an apothecary shop, medical knowledge was very important part of a women’s education. Women tended the sick. Literate females coveted their medical recipes (called receipts) in the same way that they valued treasured family cooking secrets.  Often, the formulas for cough syrup and headache remedies were tucked away amongst the other family favorite recipes such as those for stuffed fowl or ginger cakes.  Women stocked their gardens with the standard ingredients for medicines: Caraway for colic, Marigolds for healing, and Jerusalem oak for the treatment of worms.(10)

  But cooking remained a central to the life of colonial women, as they prepared three meals a day. Breakfast in colonial times was usually leftovers consisting of toasted bread, cheese, meat and turnips from the night before, and cider, beer or milk.  Special occasions might merit doughnuts or pie.  The noontime “dinner” was the heartiest meal of the day.  It featured boiled meat and sauce, vegetables, and maybe, a pudding.  Supper was made from the broth reserved from the noon meal with the addition of oatmeal or barley for thickening.  Specialty meals might include: “roast pork or goose with apples, spring eel or leek soup or gooseberry cream.”(11) All of these meals were tended to in the cavernous fireplaces used by 17th and 18 th century cooks.  Ladies stood in these fire pits and established many small fires to accommodate the various temperatures needed to cook a variety of items. The cooks moved from one fire to another checking the spit, stirring the skillet, and adjusting the height of the pot that hung from the lugpole. Roasting, frying, boiling and baking were every day tasks for colonial ladies.

Preparing all of these foods, required many tools. Kitchens laden with the family’s collection of “pots, kettles, dripping pans, trays buckets and earthenware”(12) were valuable possessions and became an integral part of each family’s inventory. Furthermore, although cooking and baking were daily tasks, food preparation was far from simple. According to Ulrich, “preparing the simplest of meals required both judgment and skill…. The most basic of the housewife’s skills was building and regulating fires.’(13)     Like fire building, bread making was an essential skill for New England cooks.  Colonial bakers relied upon” an organic sequence of events which if interrupted was difficult to begin again."(14) To make bread, colonial women needed a “sponge,” a thin dough made from water, yeast and flour.  “The yeast might have come from the foamy “barm” floating on top of fermenting ale, or, even, the unwashed part of a kneading trough.”(15 After the sponge was raised cooks would work in more flour, knead the finished dough, and shape the loaves, leaving them to rise again. The tricky part of baking the bread had to do with the correct temperature of the oven. Colonial cooks had to make sure that the oven had reached the proper temperature at the same time as the risen loaves.  Given the drafty nature of colonial homes, the non-standardized yeast production, and the uneven temperatures of early ovens, Ulrich refers to the colonial task of bread making as indeed “an art, craft and mystery.” (16)

            In summary, colonial homes relied upon the unpaid work of women.  The importance of their domestic labors cannot be denied.  Working from sun-up to sundown in a variety of capacities, colonial women were the epitome of energy, resilience and initiative.  While few of these women left written records of their activities, the materials, goods and artifacts that they have left behind serve as a living testament of their enormous efforts and contributions. This material legacy is a rich source of information about daily activities and the work involved in keeping a colonial family and a burgeoning community economy afloat.   To make clear the variety of women's work and its centrality to colonial history, Laurel Ulrich points out the colonial "pocket"-- and explains its value as a symbol of colonial women.

             “…a woman’s pocket was not attached to her clothing, but tied around her waist with a string or a tape.  …this homely object symbolizes the obscurity, the versatility, and the personal nature of the housekeeping role…she carried her pocket with her from room to room, from house to yard, from yard to street…. the items which it contained would shift from day to day and from year to year, they would of necessity be small…yet precious.  A pocket could be… a plain homespun or a rich personal ornament boldly embroidered in crewel.  It reflected the status as well as the skills of the owner. …It characterized the social complexity as well as the demanding diversity of women’s work.” (17)

1 Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England 1650-1750 (New York: Vintage Books, 1991), 26, 27.

2 Ulrich, 14

3 Ulrich, 33.

4 Nancy F. Cott, No Small Courage: A History of Women in the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) 131.

5 Ulrich, 22.

6 Ulrich, 23.

7 Ulrich, 27.

8 Ulrich, 13.

9 Ulrich,14.

10 Cott, 122

11 Ulrich, 20.

12 Ulrich,18.

13 Ulrich, 20.

14 Ulrich ,21.

15 Ulrich, 21.

16 Ulrich, 21.

17 Ulrich, 34.


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Day 1:

Day 2:

For each group:

Day 3:

Part 1:

  • Original Artifact Prediction Chart (from Day 1)  

Part 2:

  • One class set of Artifact/Description Match Cards of its use, (one set of object cards and one set of cards with description of the objects’ uses.)
  • Copies of “Colonial Times”/ “Today” charts 

Part 3:

  • Magazines, scissors, glue, artifact cards for use in gluing.

Day 4:

  • Venn Diagrams [Optional]



For Day 1:

Cut out artifact cards; Make a bag with badges for each group and a prediction chart for each group.

For Day 2:

Be sure to make arrangements with Education Dept. at PEM for docent-led tour of Ward House. You will want to make these arrangements about 1 month ahead if possible.

For Day 3:

Cut out all cards for match game; photocopy
“Colonial Times”/”Today” charts

For Day 4:

Photocopy Venn Diagrams [Optional]

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Day 1:

Anticipatory Activity

    OPENING: How does your mama make breakfast?

    Use Buzz Buddies for a discussion about how breakfast is made at each partner’s home.  Discuss products that are made at home and items that are bought.  (Five minutes)

    • Instructions for “Buzz Buddies”: Have children pair up with the person next to them.

    Each partner has five minutes to discuss his or her topic without interruption.  Then, it is the other partner's turn to talk.  The word "buzz" describes the noise heard in the room.  For young children, I usually say, "whisper in your partner's ear."

Artifact Activity : Making Predictions (Twenty Minutes)

    • Organize students into cooperative groups. Each group will have a set of artifact cards, an Artifact Predication Chart and a bag with badges to organize group work.
    • Each student will take a badge from a bag.  The badge designates each student’s job assignment.

                        Recorder- writes information

                        Speaker- shares information with the entire class

                        Timekeeper- keeps group on time and on task

                        Materials Manager- Secures and returns all necessary items.

    • Each group will examine a set of artifact cards.  After examining each card carefully, each group will record their predictions on the Artifact Prediction Chart.  The goal is for students to answer the following "Main Questions" about each artifact AND offer details to support their answers. Circulate around the room.


    • What do you think this object was used for?
    • How do you think this object was used?
    • Who do you think used this object?

    Teachers can use the broader questions on the enclosed“Some Questions for Exploring Ward House Objects to facilitate student’s analysis of objects. You may amend the language as needed. The purpose of these questions is to help students make predictions based on the qualities of the object itself (e.g its size, materials, shape, parts, weight, patterns, etc. Does it look like someone took a long time to make it or not? Why? Why not?) Students should be able to point to something about the object itself to convince others why they made the predictions they did.

Create a Class Prediction Chart: Allow each group time to share one of their predictions for a (different) object. Make sure they give the reasons for their prediction. Teacher will record on a large chart for whole class. Keep this chart. It will be used on Day 3. (Ten Minutes)

Day 2: Trip to Ward House (half a day)

*Plan Ahead: Have a discussion ahead of time with the docent(s) who will work with your students for a lesson at the John Ward House (Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA).

Background information: 

    • Use a current day map of Massachusetts.  Identify Salem on the map. 
    • Use a current day map of Salem.  Identify the Ward House on the map.
    • Identify the location of the school on the map.
    • Ask students what route they would take to walk to the Ward House.
    • Ask students what route what they would use to travel by bus to the Ward House.

Materials: a clipboard, a copy of the map of Salem, a miniature set of artifact pictures and an Artifact Information Chart for each group,  a pen for each group,

1. Group the students according to the previous day’s cooperative teams.

2. Supply a map for each group so that they can follow the map as they walk or ride to the museum. Supply each group with a clipboard, a set of artifact pictures and an Artifact Information Chart


Time to Find Objects on Own: Provide a miniature set of the pictures that were printed on the artifact cards and a clipboard.  Give students enough time to “spot” each artifact printed and record its location in the Ward House before docent tour or talk (Ten to Fifteen Minutes)


a)  for the remainder of the visit, arrange a tour with docent. Request that the tour to be focused on women’s jobs and the tools they used to accomplish them. Share your selected set of artifacts with docent ahead of time so that the tour can highlight familiar objects.

b) students will each have an  Artifact Information Chart (this is a modified version of the Artifact Prediction Chart)  and will record key information about each object as the tour takes place. (teachers may want to limit to 4 or 6 items rather than all 8 depending on time available) - (Students will record information about WHAT each object was used for HOW it was used and WHO used it on their Artifact Information Form.)

Day 3: Revisit Original Predictions/ Matching Objects and Descriptions/ Making Modern Links

PART 1: Revisit Original Predictions (15 minutes)

Post the original class Artifact Prediction Chart and ask Students (as a class) to compare their original predictions with the correct uses of each object. Also discuss with students their original reasons for their predictions and discuss any changes to information noted on Day 1. For a math activity, the class can create a fraction to describe how many original predictions came to pass.

(Alternative: have each original group revisit their own group's prediction chart from Day 1 and come up with a fraction to describe how many correct predictions they had.)

PART 2: Match Game (10 minutes)

Materials: One class set of Artifact/Description Match Cards
(This includes one set of object cards and one set of description cards)

1. Hand out Artifact Match Game Cards: Give each student in class a card with an image of one Ward House object; Give each student in the other half of the class a card with a description of how one Ward House object was used.

2. Instruct students to try and find the classmate who has the card that matches theirs. Use a match game format so that partners can match an artifact with an appropriate description of the job that it accomplished.

PART 3:  Find the Modern Day Equivalent (Twenty Minutes)

Materials: magazines, scissors, glue, artifact cards for use in gluing, photocopied sheets with a t2  column table – one column labeled “Colonial Times” and the other “Today”

1. Once partners have completed the first part of the assignment, have partners cut out pictures from magazines that demonstrate how the modern day household accomplishes the same task as the artifact of yesterday.  (For example, a butter churn could be paired with a tub of margarine.) 

2. Have students paste “matched” pictures on chart.

3. Allow each partner to share one artifact and its modern day equivalent.

Day 4:  What is the same?  What is different?  [Optional: Use of a Venn Diagram] (Forty Minutes)

Materials:  Venn Diagrams, Completed comparison worksheets from Day 3 (Part 3)

  1. Organize student into cooperative groups.
  2. Have students choose roles. (see Day 1)
  3. Instruct students to compare any two artifacts from their pictures to one another.
  4. Use the followings questions to guide their observations.

What are the objects made from? Who used the objects in colonial times?    Who uses it today? What are the artifacts used for?  Example cooking food, preparing food, storing food? What other similarities or differences can they find?

5. Allow groups time to share their findings.

OPTIONAL: Have students record their findings about similarities and differences in a Venn Diagram (one circle labeled “Colonial Times” and “Today”)

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1. Students will be assessed on their written responses to the worksheet questions.

2. For most of this lesson students will be assessed by their participation in oral discussions and written responses.

3. Parallel Diary: The final assessment will be a parallel diary.

Provide a parallel diary for each student.  This is a page divided in half.  One half of the page is supposed to be a colonial women writing about one task from her daily chores.  The other half of the page is a modern day woman writing about the same task from her point of view.

 Model the activity.  For example:


 It is a bright fall day and it is the beginning of candle making season.  I’ve been collecting tallow from animals for weeks.  Today, I will melt it down; pour it into the candle molds.  I will trim the linen string and put it in for a wick.  Later, I will tap the new candles free from the mold and store them for the year.


Oh, what a day I had.  It was hot and sunny, I had to pick up Sarah from soccer and then I had to run around to the other school to get Billy from football.  The baby was screaming because she had been in the hot car too long and the traffic was miserable!  We had to go to Stop and Shop to buy light bulbs.  The store was mobbed!  After, waiting in line for ten minutes, they closed the line I was in.  UGH!!! Finally, we got home so I could make dinner and the children could watch TV.

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Student parallel diary will earn credit (Check +, Check, Check – or 0) according to the following standards:

CHECK + Students write a detailed, narrative account accurately comparing a 20 th century tool and an object used during the 17th or 18th century that was used to complete the same work.

CHECK Students write a list accurately comparing a 20th century tool and an object used during the 17th or 18th century that was used to complete the same work.

CHECK – Students write down the name and uses of one tool used during the colonial era.  However, the student has not provided a comparable tool used during modern times.

0 Students cannot name and list the work completed by one tool used during the colonial times.

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 Possible modifications include but are not limited to:

  • Provide a Word Bank with the following terms:

Docent, saltcellar, meal chest, fire pan, fire back, warming pan, trough, trammel, andirons

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  • Plan a fieldtrip to the Gardner Pingree house (at PEM) and compare an early 18th/19 c. kitchen to the ones used in the seventieth and eighteenth centuries.  What was the same and what was different in both kitchens?
  • Choose one artifact from the Ward House and write an advertisement that describes the wonderful features of this work-saving tool.
  • Draw a picture of a pocket used by colonial women and write about its contents.  Why were the objects carried in the pocket important to colonial women?
  • Visit the PBS “Colonial House” website <see web resources> with the students. discuss

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Math: (fractions or graphing) For a math activity, the class can create a fraction or a graph/chart to describe how many original predictions came to pass.

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The following are a selection of objects that are currently on display in the John Ward House (ca. 1684) at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.  Most objects have not been assigned a specific date by the Museum, but are believed to be appropriate objects for the seventeenth century. A brief comment on the use of each object is noted. 

Fireback, 1684.  John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Cast iron plate placed attached to the back of the fireplace to protect the bricks and reflect heat back into the room.  (accession # 112584)

Trammel, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Wrought iron hooked pot hangers in a fireplace for supporting pots or kettles.  (accession # 112585)

Candle Mold, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Tin mold for creating 6 tall candles at a time. (accession number 112574)

Warming Pan, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Hot coals from the fire would be placed in the covered brass pan and used to heat bed linens. (accession # 112481)

Andirons, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Andirons are located in a fireplace and offer a bar for holding up logs in a fireplace.  In this case, their is also a brace for a spit.  This object is made from wrought iron. (accession # 112583)

Salt-cellar, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

A small dish (in this case, wooden) for holding and dispensing salt. (accession # 112509)

Chest, for meal, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA

A chest for storing coarsely ground foodstuff, known as “meal.” (accession #112561)

Trough, 17th century. John Ward House, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA

This wooden vessel would be used in food preparation for mixing.  (accession # 112548)


Nancy F. Cott, No Small Courage: A History of Women in the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Cott traces the history and struggles of women in the United States from the pre-colonial era to the present.  This resource is a valuable instrument for understanding women’s history.

Kamesky, Jane. The Colonial Mosaic: American Women 1600-1760. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Chapter two of this book, “To Toil the Livelong Day: Working Lives” gives an excellent background that spans beyond Colonial New England and gives the reader a picture of the lives of colonial women in relation to their contribution to the economics of the early American colonies.

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England 1650-1750.  New York: Vintage Books, 1991.

Ulrich provides an excellent overview of the lives of colonial women in relation to their contribution to the economics of the fledgling colonies. The author provides factual background information taken from probate records and inventories of colonial homes.

  • Note: The following is an additional Primary Source used to create this lesson but not used in it: Probate Inventory.

Transcription of the Estate of Francis Plummer of Newbury (1672). The Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts. Vol II, 1665-1674. Salem, MA: The Essex Institute, 1917.

This is the transcription of the Plummer Probate used by Ulrich in her book.  The list gives the reader insight into the utensils used by colonial women in their every day tasks.

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Teacher Created Materials has a thematic unit series that is very helpful as the books even have sample lesson plans in them. One from their series is on Colonial America (ISBN 1-55734-597-X). (Website: They are considered "cross curriculum" books in that they draw many subjects into the study including math, science, and language arts.

Two unit study books by authoress Amanda Bennett have good materials to incorporate into a unit study on Colonial America: "Thanksgiving" and "Pioneers." Both of these books are available through many book retailers, homeschooling catalogs and the Amanda Bennett website.


 If you are reading this article you more than likely have at least a passing familiarity with using the Internet. What follows is a long list of websites that either have information regarding the Colonial Period or have actual unit studies on this subject for you to use. At the time that this article was written, all web addresses had been checked for content; however, please check them again before allowing your children to view them.

“Colonial House”. <> [visited 7/17/2005].

The resource has lesson plans based on the PBS television “reality” show Colonial House.  The broadcast closely depicts everyday life in the colonies during seventieth and eighteentieth centuries.

“Cooking in Colonial New England.” [visited 7/17/2005].

This article, included in the list of resources, discusses the types of food the early colonists would have eaten. It is a brief, one page article that is easily readable.

“The History of Household Technology” Journeys and Crossings, Library of Congress.  [Visited 7/17/2005].

This presentation, provided by the Library of Congress, is an excellent discussion of the history of kitchen gadgets etc. that brings the lesson beyond the era of early Colonial America. If you have access to computers for your students, the Library of Congress offers a “web cast” presentation of the history that is interesting with excellent visuals. The web cast is a classroom friendly 17 minutes long and carries the history of housework and invention of gadgets through the early Twentieth Century. If you cannot show the web cast, the transcript <included in lesson plan resources> is available at this site as well. This page also offers an EXTENSIVE list of primary and secondary resources on housework.

 Colonial America Discussion Port (a discussion board for colonial American topics)

 Life in Colonial Williamsburg

Children’s’ Bibliography

 Anderson, Joan. The First Thanksgiving: Clarion Books New York 1984.

An early grade book. Through photographs taken at Plymouth Plantation, the book recreates the first harvest feast. The pictures give an excellent idea of the clothing, games and total life at the time. An excellent book for children to look at on their own without being able to read the text. (Based on Of Plymouth Plantation and Mourt’s Relation.)

 Bradford, William and others of the Mayflower Company. Homes in the Wilderness: A pilgrim’s journal. Linnet Books Hamden, Connecticut 1988.

An excellent upper grade story book, first published as Mourt’s Relations. It tells of the settlement at Plymouth in journal form.

The Coming of the Pilgrims: Told from Governor Bradford’s Firsthand Account: Little, Brown and Co. Boston 1964.

The story of the Pilgrims leaving England and landing in Holland and then their continuing journey to New England.

 Gibbons, Gail. Thanksgiving Day: Holiday House Book 1983.

Beautiful illustrations help explain the first Thanksgiving and compares it to today’s celebrations. Great for the lower grades as the text is simple and pictures are colorful and self-explanatory.

 Lowitz, Sadybeth and Anson. The Pilgrim’s Party: A really true story. Lerner Publications Co. Minneapolis 1968.

Black and white drawings tells the story of leaving England, landing in Plymouth and what happened after. Early primary grades can follow the pictures.


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