K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Related pages

  • Immigrants' experiences in colonial North Carolina: In this lesson plan, students read two primary-source documents describing the experiences of new arrivals to North Carolina during the colonial period: One is a summary of a report written by a young Moravian settler from Pennsylvania; the other is a letter from a German immigrant. Students compare and contrast the journeys and settlement of the two groups.
  • Graphic organizer: John Lawson's assessment of the Tuscarora: This graphic organizer will aid students' comprehension as they read a primary source account detailing an English traveler's encounters with the Tuscarora Indians in 1700-1701.
  • Educator's guide: The arrival of Swiss immigrants: Teaching suggestions to help your students synthesize the information in the article "The Arrival of Swiss Immigrants."

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Students will compare and contrast three different descriptions of the early Carolina colony:

As an extension activity they will write letters imagining they are describing their own neighborhoods for relatives back home.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • read and evaluate a primary source document
  • discover information about the early Carolina colony
  • cite references from a primary source to support their own interpretations
  • engage in critical thinking
  • replicate the reasons that the early settlers wrote primary sources

Teacher preparation

Materials needed

  • Computer with internet access for each group of students or one computer with an LCD projector
  • Three copies of the decision-making chart used in the lesson plan “‘The Present State of Carolina’: Making Decisions.” Note: Only two copies will be needed if you have done the “‘Present State of Carolina’: Making Decisions” lesson. Alternatively, you may project the chart and have the students copy it onto paper.

Time required for lesson

One class period. Homework time will be needed.


  1. Bellringer Activity: (oral or written exercise) Ask the students to imagine they are twenty-five and are thinking about moving to a new state. What might be some of the reasons for moving? What might be some reasons against moving? Have some students share their answers with the class.
  2. Divide the class into three different groups — one for each of the sources they’ll be reading. Note: If you have used the “‘Present State of Carolina’: Making Decisions” lesson plan, you will only have two groups, rather than three.
  3. Divide each student group into smaller cooperative groups that will work together — 3 to 4 students per group.
  4. Each group needs to have a copy of the decision-making chart, either photocopied or made on their own paper from projecting the PDF.
  5. Explain that the students will be reading sources from the early days of the Carolina colony: As they read, they are to think about the pros and cons of the colony, but in the opinion of their group — not necessarily the opinion of the author.
  6. Allow the students time to read and discuss the sources, being sure to remind them to read the information about the authors and the material in the sidebars. Ask each group to also determine the reason the source was written.
  7. After the charts have been filled in, have the class choose one (or more if there is time) of the sections to discuss as a whole class. Students should be prepared to support their opinions about why they have labeled items “pro” or “con” during the discussion.
  8. Ask the students who read the Janzen letter to describe for the class some of the personal stories that were included.
  9. Ask the class what differences they noticed between the two advertisement sources (Horne and Lawson) compared to the personal letter (Janzen). Students should recognize that the advertisements were intended to draw more people to the colony, so they wanted to portray the colony in a positive way. While the letter was mostly positive, Janzen mentioned the lack of marriageable women, lack of variety of fruit in the area, and his wish for a pastor.
  10. Homework: Have the students write two papers (these can be as short as a paragraph or as long as a page each, depending on the ability level and/or interest of your students). Instruct the students to imagine that they have just moved from Europe to their neighborhood (town or farm). The students should write one notice back to their former country in Europe, describing their new home with the goal of encouraging many more people to come. They should also write a letter back to their family in Europe explaining exactly what it is like in their new home.


  • Each group should have a completed decision-making chart. This assignment should be graded on effort as there are many possible answers to the pro/con questions. They also represent opinions of the different student groups.
  • The class discussion will allow the teacher to gauge the comprehension of the students. Student participation should be an assessment.
  • The homework should be assessed by the following: one written letter and one writing more in the form of an advertisement. Each writing should contain information about the student’s neighborhood, town, or farm; grammar and correct spelling, although if students place their writings in the past rather than the present, some of your students may be aware that spelling was not standardized at this time.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • History/Social Studies

        • Grades 6-8
          • 6-8.LH.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 8

        • 8.H.1 Apply historical thinking to understand the creation and development of North Carolina and the United States. 8.H.1.1 Construct charts, graphs, and historical narratives to explain particular events or issues. 8.H.1.2 Summarize the literal meaning of...
        • 8.H.3 Understand the factors that contribute to change and continuity in North Carolina and the United States. 8.H.3.1 Explain how migration and immigration contributed to the development of North Carolina and the United States from colonization to contemporary...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 8

  • Goal 1: The learner will analyze important geographic, political, economic, and social aspects of life in the region prior to the Revolutionary Period.
    • Objective 1.01: Assess the impact of geography on the settlement and developing economy of the Carolina colony.
    • Objective 1.02: Identify and describe American Indians who inhabited the regions that became Carolina and assess their impact on the colony.
    • Objective 1.03: Compare and contrast the relative importance of differing economic, geographic, religious, and political motives for European exploration.
    • Objective 1.05: Describe the factors that led to the founding and settlement of the American colonies including religious persecution, economic opportunity, adventure, and forced migration.
    • Objective 1.07: Describe the roles and contributions of diverse groups, such as American Indians, African Americans, European immigrants, landed gentry, tradesmen, and small farmers to everyday life in colonial North Carolina, and compare them to the other colonies.