Everyday life during the Colonial Period is difficult for today’s children to understand or embrace. Much of colonial history is still taught through political and military events and significant leaders. Resources that inform students about daily life have not been made available to them, or those that have been presented are not interesting to the children. This unit will be a window into the past of New Haven so that the students will be able to learn, understand, and appreciate the rich history and culture that the city has to offer them. The lessons designed will engage and connect each student to the past through a focused exploration of New Haven circa 1750. I teach Social Studies at MicroSociety Magnet School, a small inter-district urban pre-kindergarten to 8
grade school. The students I teach are unfamiliar with the history of their great city New Haven. They do not realize or even comprehend that New Haven has a unique and fascinating history, with a lively and ever growing present, which in turn promotes a future that will afford many educational and professional prospects for them.
New Haven’s fifth grade curriculum objective is to teach the students about their community by presenting precise examples of New Haven’s development through planning, architecture, and buildings as well as explanations detailing their inceptions and how each of them has grown and changed throughout history depending on religious, political, and personal desires in the local community. Students must be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of major events and trends in local history. I teach students to appreciate their surroundings by learning to visualize and to investigate all that they have encountered. I have forty-five minutes each day to introduce New Haven’s rich culture to a class of nine and ten year old eager students. My task is challenging, for many of them, it is their first introduction to any formal instruction in social studies.
Although this unit will focus mainly on fifth graders, it can be modified to teach sixth, seventh and eighth graders as well. Students of any age can grasp the concepts within this unit with appropriate age and learning modifications.