Technology of Colonial America

By learning about the technology of Colonial America, students can gain a greater appreciation of history.

By Daniella Garran


technology of colonial america lesson plans

When students think about technology, what comes to mind are computers, iPods, cell phones and cars; they neglect to remember that technology is defined as anything that makes life easier. When learning about past cultures, it is important to analyze the role that tools and technology played in creating and sustaining that civilization. It is a useful exercise for students to consider what technology is really needed for a successful and stable civilization and what technology is simply wanted.

The American colonists created the 13 colonies from scratch. While we might perceive their tools as archaic, they were, in fact, quite advanced and skilled. The colonists had advanced farming skills which allowed them to raise both crops and livestock. Masons and carpenters were also highly skilled and very much in demand throughout the colonies. Once settled, colonies experienced the need for urban planning. They were able to apply many of the skills and technology that had been used in Europe for many years.

A fun and engaging activity for students is creating their own colony in terms of food, health, wealth and morale. Students will have to consider how they will provide and care for the colonists, how the colony will prosper financially, etc . . .

You can also have students try to create models of some of the tools that were used in colonial America using everyday materials, such as cardboard, balsa wood and the like. Using this list, then have students plan what they would want to include in a new town and how they would go about building it using only these tools. For more lesson plans about technology in Colonial America see below.

Technology in Colonial America Lesson Plans:

Learning About Colonial Life

This lesson is an excellent introduction to the tools and technology available to the American colonists. Students view images of different items used by the colonists, most of which are unfamiliar to us, and they will have to make predictions about their uses.

Firefighting and Community in Colonial America

Students learn about the tools and materials available to the colonists for building homes. This lesson also focuses on fire hazards and how the colonists fought fires without the technology to which we are accustomed.

Create Your Own Colony

This lesson has students create and maintain their own colony. They are only able to use the resources and technology available at that time to sustain the colony’s population.

The Human Organism

Students learn about the functionality of various tools. After some hands on activities, students write about what the world would be like without a particular tool (of their choosing).