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Explaining the reasons for English colonization.



  • Review information studied about the American Indians (First Americans). Show a world map and locate England on the map. Draw a line from England to Virginia and ask the students if they were in England in which direction would they have to travel in order to reach Virginia.

  • Ask the students the following question, “Why would people in England want to go to a new land (Virginia) to settle?” Record responses on sentence strips. Combine these sentence strips with teacher made statements on sentence strips. Post them and discuss which ones are good reasons for settling in Virginia.

  • Tell the students that the English, after failed attempts at settlement, were finally successful in 1607 in settling a colony in Jamestown. Read a story about Jamestown to the class.

  • Select a group of students to hold a sign that says Virginia Company of London. On the opposite side of the room, have one or two students hold a map of Virginia. In another section have one student portray the king by wearing a paper crown and holding a poster that looks like a charter. Set the scene by reading the following scenario.

  • Groups of businessmen who live in England are trying to increase their wealth. They are all members of the Virginia Company of London. They have decided that Virginia is a good place to locate an English colony because they suspect that there is gold and/or silver there. They also hope to find natural resources that could be used to produce products for new markets for English trade. The businessmen will not travel themselves, but need to find men who will travel; they also need to provide ships and supplies for the journey and settlement. They also need permission from King James, and so they present their case. King James grants a charter allowing them to proceed.

  • Assign some students to become the Company of London. Information about the Charters of Virginia is available at http://www.jamestowne.org/royal-charters.html. Astudent playing King James may read the first charter of the Virginia.

  • Review the reasons for the colonization and settlement in Virginia. Discuss the importance of the Virginia charters with the class. Stress how Jamestown was an economic venture. Share samples of the charters from Virginia: “The History and Culture of a Commonwealth” from The Library of Virginia. Charters are available at the following Web address: http://www.learner.org/workshops/primarysources/virginia/before.html.

  • Refer back to the scenario in step 4. Choose a group of students to pretend they are boarding the Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed for travel to the New World. Have them travel across the room to Virginia. Ask the students what they see around them when they arrive. List the responses on a chart. Reinforce the idea that there were lots of forests and wilderness and that the inhabitants were Eastern Woodland Indians, specifically the Algonquian language group and Powhatan tribe.

  • Give the students a world map and have them trace the route from England to Virginia through the Chesapeake Bay to Jamestown. Place a star on the student map and classroom Virginia map for easy reference. Review the meaning of peninsula and explain that Jamestown was originally located on a peninsula, but now Jamestown is an island. Learn more about why the settlers chose Jamestown at http://www.virginiaplaces.org/vacities/7jamestown.html.

  • Remind the students that England wanted to establish an American colony to increase her wealth and power. England hoped to find silver and gold in America. An American settlement would furnish raw materials that could not be grown or obtained in England while opening new markets for trade. Jamestown was primarily an economic venture.

  • Illustrate posters advertising the Virginia Company of London seeking passengers to journey to the new world in search of riches.



Produced by Prince William County Public Schools in collaboration with
the Virginia Department of Education. All rights reserved. Filnet Inc.
Updated on August 11, 2008.