The 13 Colonies

A Complete Unit Plan for US History in Middle School or High School

The second unit in my US History curriculum covers the 13 Colonies, with lessons on Jamestown Colony and Virginia, Plymouth and the New England Colonies, the Middle Colonies, and more.

This is a fantastic unit for your middle school or high school US History students and a great way to transition from exploration to colonization. With PowerPoints, interactive notebooks, and videos, students are always engaged with new and experiential material, ensuring their consistent interaction with new concepts. 

You can download all the lessons and resources for this unit here or, sign up for a subscription and gain access to everything online.


The unit begins with a lesson on the first permanent English Colony in the New World: Jamestown. A PowerPoint with guided notes (or included video lesson) helps students to understand the colonists’ interactions with the local Powhatan tribe and the difficulties the colonists faced in building a colony thousands of miles from their home.

Several unique activities are available for you to use with students: a Primary Source play to understand why some colonists decided to leave Great Britain, an interactive notebook page, a primary source reading and worksheet, and several digital notebook pages.

The next lesson introduces students to the Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony, the Salem Witch trials, as well as specific gender roles that were typical of that time period. Another engaging PowerPoint with guided notes (or “flipped classroom” video version) provides background knowledge on figures such as John Winthrop, Roger Williams, and Anne Hutchinson.

Students analyze a primary source of the Mayflower Compact and then use their notes, a reading, and videos to compare Jamestown and Plymouth.

The next two lessons are similar and cover the Middle Colonies and Southern Colonies. There are more primary sources for students, including an early petition to end slavery and a look at Bacon’s Rebellion. Both these hands-on activities will compel students to put their newfound knowledge into play as they read and dissect historical documents.

After a further look at slavery in the Colonies and the Great Awakening, students complete a “real world” style project as a culminating activity for the unit.

Throughout the unit, students can also work on an assortment of digital notebook activities or a thorough unit guide packet. Dozens of great videos are linked in the lessons as well to use as well as readings you can share from our online textbook.

The unit concludes with an editable unit test - with an editable Google Forms version also included for easy grading!

Again, you can download everything for this unit here in one handy zip folder that can be saved to your desktop. Or, you can gain access to the entire unit’s lessons and resources online. A subscription also gets you immediate access to the ENTIRE US History curriculum. That’s 19 complete units like this one full of awesome lessons and resources.

If you’re unsure which option is better for you, you can read more about the differences between subscriptions and TpT purchases here

Thanks so much for checking it out

US History Units