Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 4-12, students explore BrainPOP resources to learn how and why the 13 colonies were founded, including the role of mercantilism and the relationship between the colonies and England. As part of this lesson, students will design their own 13 Colonies Sortify game.


Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Take a pre-assessment quiz to assess what they know about the building of the thirteen colonies.
  2. Brainstorm what they know about the thirteen colonies and how they began.
  3. Identify categories of information based on the movie.
  4. Create a Sortify game.


  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Index cards or scrap paper (enough for all students to make 16 tiles)
  • Scissors
  • Staples or tape


  • Assign the Building the Thirteen Colonies quiz prior to this lesson.
  • Assign the Building the Thirteen Colonies Make-a-Map.
  • Preview the movie Building the Thirteen Colonies to plan for any adaptations.
  • Make copies of the Game Designer Planning Log.
  • Lesson Procedure:

    1. Prior to teaching this lesson, have students take the Building the Thirteen Colonies quiz to assess what they already know about this topic.
    2. Begin the lesson by displaying the Building the Thirteen Colonies topic page on the whiteboard. Ask students to share what they know about the thirteen colonies. Then have a volunteer read the description below the movie.  
    3. Tell students that today they will learn about how the colonies came to be and the relationship between the colonies and England. Show the movie Building the Thirteen Colonies to the whole class. Enable closed captioning to aid in student comprehension. Pause to explain and clarify as needed.
    4. After the movie, have students open their Make-a-Map assignments and watch the movie again from within Make-a-Map. As they watch, instruct them to identify categories for their Sortify Game bins. For example, they may choose the different colony regions (e.g., Middle, Southern, New England, etc) or they may decide to sort by people, or by imports and exports, etc.
    5. If your students have not played Sortify, demonstrate the game on the whiteboard for the whole class. Select a topic that they are familiar with. Place the first few tiles yourself and identify a category, then invite volunteers up to continue the game.
    6. Distribute the Game Designer Planning Log to each student. Explain that they will now design their own Sortify game using categories related to the thirteen colonies as identified in their Make-a-Maps. Have them write the categories in the Bin spaces at the top of the page.
    7. Next, students cut out pages 2 and 3 of the log and fold the bins on the lines, stapling or taping the sides. Lastly, instruct students to label the bins with their categories and value of points for right answers. More challenging bins should be worth more points.
    8. Using scrap paper or index cards, students are to create and label 16 tiles, putting a number on the back of each one.
    9. Finally, have students challenge a classmate to play their Sortify game.

    Extension Activities:

    Change any tiles or bins that make scoring points too easy or too hard so that people will want to play it over and over, If your game is not challenging enough or frustratingly difficult, they will only want to play it once.