Building a Colonial American Town

A WebQuest For Upper Elementary Students

By Sarah Richwine and Angela Youtz








Teacher Notes


The King of England has asked Governor Dunmore of Virginia to appoint the best and brightest colonists to create and build a new settlement in the vast wilderness of the colony. The governor has selected all of you based on your unique qualities and sense of adventure. Your job will be a challenging, but exciting one. You and your team will be responsible for establishing a new settlement based on the thriving town of Williamsburg. As citizens of Williamsburg yourselves, your job will be to take what you know about the workings of a town and create another town modeled after Williamsburg.


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You and your team will research a particular building which will be part of the new town. It will be important to work together equally to complete your project.

You will need to:

answer questions

define vocabulary

 write a report

create a 3-D structure

Your final job will be to give an oral presention to Governor Dunmore(teacher) and colonists(classmates and/or guests). Together with the rest of the colonists, you will create your 3-D town.

Click here to view the grading rubric before completing the task.

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As a team, your first job is to agree on what your new town needs to thrive.

Sign up on the board for the part of the town you want to create and learn about.

Get together with your group and follow the steps on the team assignment sheet below.

Team Assignment Sheet

1. Click on the topic that your team will be researching. Print out a copy of your questions.


Apothecary shop


General Store







2. Use the available resources listed below under resources to answer all of the questions on your printed sheet about your topic.

*Make sure that all of your answers to your questions are in complete sentences. (Keep a list of the resources that you use.)


3. Take the answers and type them into a report


4. While one person is typing, the rest of you need to find definitions for your list of vocabulary words. Use your resource list below to help you with this.

*Click here to get your vocabulary words. Print out a copy.


5. Make a cover for your report. It must include:

 The title of your topic.

 Authors of the report.

 Neat, colored picture relating to the topic.


  1. Make a bibliography page listing the resources you used. We will show you how this must be done.
  2. Examples:

    Richwine, Sarah A. Living in Colonial America, 1999


  3. Draw and color two pictures of your building, one of the outside, and one of the inside.

  5. Put all of the things together with the cover first, the typed report second, the pictures third, the definitions fourth, and the bibliography last. Staple them together.

  7. Use your picture and report to design a 3-D building. Begin by doing the outside of the building. Decide what kind of material they would have used and make it look as real as possible.


    Next work on the inside walls of your building.


    Now, add things that would be inside of your building. They must be things that would have been found in your building. You must include at least 10 items.


  9. When you have completed steps 1-9, click below to see and print out your evaluation rubric. As a team, grade yourselves.


*Evaluation Rubric


*If you have done all of these things, you have done a wonderful job of working together as a team and you deserve a pat on the back. Govenor Dunmore is so proud of you that you are awarded a reward with a gold coin printed in honor of your new town. Good job!



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You will be evaluated on how well you worked together, answered questions, defined vocabulary, wrote a report, created a building, and presented your information.

Click here for your grading rubric

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You and your team of citizens have completed your colonial town. We hope that you enjoyed studying about colonial life. Before you leave the webquest you and your team must think of a name for your town. Be creative!

As more people move into your town, you will need to add new buildings. Good luck on your growing colonial town.

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Teacher Notes

Before having students embark on the webquest, the following brief unit plan will give them the background they need to be successful.

Student Objectives

Students will…

  1. answer questions
  2. define vocabulary
  3. write a report
  4. create a 3-D structure
  5. present their report



Week 1*Week 2 — 4*

Read Meet Felicity: An American Girl,by Valerie Tripp to the students and discuss. You may want to have students write summaries of each chapter or otherwise support their comprehension. As you are reading, discuss Williamsburg history more in depth. You may also want to read Felicity Learns a Lesson: An American Girl as a follow-up.

Week 5 — 8*

Teach students a mini-lesson on how to write a bibliography. Students should complete the webquest outlined above.

*The time periods are estimates.

General Background Information

Review the following information with the students or have them read this before having them embark on this webquest.

Now that you have read and discussed Meet Felicity and Felicity Learns a Lesson, you have a better understanding of what growing up in Colonial Williamsburg was like for both children and adults. You already know that there were 13 colonies in America during the colonial period from the 1600s to the 1700s. Of these colonies, Virginia was the first one formed. Williamsburg became the capital of Virginia after Jamestown. It was named Williamsburg after King William III of England.

There were a variety of people living in Williamsburg, many of them upper class. Different people brought unique opinions of what should come of the "New World". Some people felt strongly that the colonies should stay a part of England. They were called Loyalists. Some people felt that they should govern themselves and that their money should stay near to home. They were called Patriots.

Williamsburg was mostly a self-sufficient town. Walking down the main street of Williamsburg, you would see the College of William and Mary, Bruton Parish Church, the market square, an apothecary shop, a general store, a mill, a school, a tavern, a tannery, and many beautiful homes some of which were on plantations. *Click here to view maps of Colonial Williamsburg.

As you embark on this webquest, you and group of your classmates will create a town similar to Williamsburg.


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