Jobs in Jamestown

K-12 Objectives | Materials Needed | Procedures | Assessment | Standards


Discipline: U.S. History

Specific Lesson Topic: Daily life and events in the Jamestown colony

Methodology: Primary Sources




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  1. Before class, print out "job assignments" sheets for the class, and cut pages so that there are enough slips with individual jobs and their descriptions for each student.
  2. Ask some opening questions, such as: "If you were traveling to a far-off, wild place, what kinds of people would you bring with you? What kinds of tasks would you want someone to know how to do? What skills do you think would be important?" (Suggestions: grow food, build houses, make clothing, etc.)
  3. Tell students to pretend that they are all going to be new settlers in the Jamestown colony, and give each student a "job assignment." Have students read about their new assigned occupations.
  4. Provide crayons and art materials which students will use to make individual "applications" to live in the colony. Suggest that they draw a picture of what they are going to do when they get there (as a carpenter, laborer, etc.). Students will also write a short paragraph explaining what they are doing and why they are the best candidate for the job of "Jamestown Carpenter," for example.
  5. Before they begin the drawing and writing exercise, divide students up into groups of 4 or 5. One group will use the computer while everybody else works individually on their applications.
  6. Explain that the occupations they have now were all real occupations held by the first Jamestown settlers. Students will now research the kinds of occupations at the settlement and find out how many people performed which jobs. Find Virtual Jamestown on the web, hand over the mouse to the "designated driver." Remind student group that they are looking for census information about the settlers, ("censuses"), and that they must find information about their occupations ("Occupations of the New World"). Have them print out a copy of this form and look at total numbers. Note: if you click on the above links, they will open in a new window. To return to this page, simply close your new window by clicking on the X in the upper right corner.
  7. Have students make a bar graph which shows how many men performed each job, using different colors to show different categories. They should also make a color key. (More advanced students may create a pie chart to show the percentages of men in each category).
  8. Once all groups have used the computer, and each student has drawn their picture, written their application, and constructed their bar graph, reconvence the group for a whole class discussion. Some suggested questions and points are included:

Assessment for K-12:


National History Standards: Standards in Historical Thinking

This module created by Sonja Czarnecki of the University of Virginia.

Cheryl L. Mason and William G. Thomas

All Rights Reserved, 1999