Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

*Click to open and customize your own copy of the Building the Thirteen Colonies Lesson Plan

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Building the Thirteen Colonies, and supports the standard of explaining the importance of triangular trade. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.


Ask students:

  • Why do you think the thirteen colonies were valuable to England? 
  • How were the thirteen colonies connected to the global community? 


  • Read the description on the Building the Thirteen Colonies topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Have students read one of the following Related Reading articles: “Around the World,” “Way Back When,” and “Did You Know?” Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY and ASSESS 

Students take the Building the Thirteen Colonies Challenge and Quiz, applying essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.


Students express what they learned about building the thirteen colonies while practicing essential literacy skills with one or more of the following activities. Differentiate by assigning ones that meet individual student needs.

  • Make-a-Movie: Produce a travelog following the journey of a ship through each leg of triangular trade. In your travelog, answer this question: What kinds of  goods or people are being exchanged at each stop?
  • Make-a-Map: Make a concept map identifying the impacts of trade on the relationship between the colonies and England. 
  • Creative Coding: Code a game challenging players to sort facts based on the region of the colonies they describe. 

More to Explore

Mission U.S.: For Crown or Colony: Students use what they know about tensions between England and the colonists to take on the role of an apprentice to a newspaper printer in Boston in 1770.

Time Zone X: British Empire: This interactive timeline game challenges students to put historical events in chronological order.

Related BrainPOP Topics: Deepen understanding of colonial life with these topics: Regions of the Thirteen Colonies, Jamestown, Part 1, and Jamestown, Part 2.

Teacher Support Resources:

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments