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5 Strategies to Teach About the British American Colonies

It can be argued that the history of the United States of America began with the 13 British American Colonies. There would be no United States of America if the colonies weren’t founded and populated. The United States wouldn’t be here if the people in those colonies thought the rule of their king unfair. History has always been one of my favorite subjects to learn about and to, in turn, teach to my students. I love the stories of the past! If you had or are a good history teacher, you know what it feels like to see the stories come to life in what is essentially a lesson. Chills! Not all history teachers are great overnight; not all of us have been blessed with fantastic storytelling skills. Therefore, most of us need to read this article for five helpful strategies to teach our students about the British American Colonies!

Read Books about the British American Colonies

The easiest and most obvious way to teach about the British American Colonies and the time around the American Revolutionary War is to read books. Below I have compiled a short list of 3 of my favorite books to teach about the early history of the United States.

A Timeline History of the 13 Colonies

by Mary K. Pratt

This book is a great historically accurate companion text for your British American Colonies history class. The timeline of how the colonies came to be, who came, why they came, and eventually what led to the creation of the United States of America is all expertly laid out.

The Jamestown Adventure: Accounts of the Virginia Colony, 1605-1614

edited by Ed Southern

This great collection of true accounts and histories of Jamestown in Virginia is a favorite among students and teachers alike. The first permanent English settlement in the new world, Jamestown taught people a lot of what to expect coming to the North American continent. 

What Was the Boston Tea Party?

by Kathleen Krull

One of my favorite series of books right now is the Who Was/Is? What Was/Is? series of books that give kids a glimpse into history. Through this book, students learn about the infamous Boston Tea Party and why it was important in the British American Colonies. 

Start with the Jamestown Settlement of the British American Colonies

13 colonies blog

The Jamestown Settlement in what would become the colony of Virginia was the first permanent settlement of English colonists. Nearly 100 men founded the Jamestown fort, but only 38 were left alive only 8 months later. Settling in a new land with so many unknowns is very difficult, but even knowing life would be rough did not prepare them for what was waiting in Jamestown. Starvation, disease, conspiracy, leaders who didn’t know what they were doing, and of course, war with neighboring Native Americans added to the difficulties of life at the Jamestown fort. 


Jamestown can be a heavy subject for some students, so to make it more manageable and easier to understand without, I have developed some resources for you.

Jamestown Breakout Activity

The Jamestown Breakout Activity – Task Cards Puzzle Challenge gets students out of their seats and moving around the room while solving riddles and puzzles related to what they’ve learned and will continue to learn about Jamestown, the beginning of the British American Colonies. 

Jamestown Settlement Thinktivity

In the Jamestown Settlement Thinktivity Reading Comprehension resource, students will read all about Jamestown and earn robot parts as they answer comprehension questions and tasks. This resource is perfect for individual work, early finisher work, or group work. Make learning about Jamestown easier to remember by pairing these activities with your lessons. 

The 13 British American Colonies

Teaching students about the 13 original British American Colonies is a part of our heritage as United States Citizens. It is fun for us and fun for the learners in our class. Make it even more fun with some great resources developed to help review and make the learning applicable to your class. 

Great resources to supplement your lessons are all included in the 13 Colonies Reading and Puzzles and Boom Cards Bundle! Inside, you will find all the review material, supplemental lessons, and fun activities associated with the 13 British American Colonies you could ever want. 

Colonial America Bundle

Beyond the 13 original British American Colonies is all of Colonial America. Use the Colonial America Bundle to teach your students about the daily life of a person who lived in Colonial America and what their day looked like. Explore new ways to show your students Colonial America with escape rooms, thinktivity resources, scavenger hunts, secret messages, and reading passages. 

Videos about the 13 British American Colonies

The World History Encyclopedia does a great job providing videos for an overview picture of a topic. The History of Colonial America is a fun video that engages students and covers the basics of why people decided to live in America and what those British American Colonies originally looked like. has a fun video outlining for young learners exactly what education looked like in Colonial America with their video Education in Colonial America. Those 13 British American Colonies were a different place to learn than what our students are used to today. (While you do have to create an account for, it is free!)

BrainPop Jr. has some of my favorite videos for showing in class. They are always tailored to my younger learners and appropriate for the classroom. Their video on the Thirteen Colonies is no different than what I have come to expect. This video does a great job explaining lots of information around the creation of the 13 British American Colonies, the struggles they faced, and the important role they played in the United States of America. 

Teaching about the British American Colonies isn’t so hard!

With all these great resources available to you and your students, it has never been easier to supplement your history lessons with fun activities. Whether you are a master history teacher story teller or you just don’t have time to do your study of the 13 British American Colonies justice, you are covered. Try out some of these resources and comment below to let me know which ones work best in your classroom!

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