Dialogue and Colonial Times...killing two birds

We have been working on dialogue in class, so I thought I would tie it in to our studies on colonial life with this fun little project (that could be adapted to really any unit of study...we just happened to be working on the colonies :) )

teachinginroom6.blogspot.com, colonies, 5th gradeSo let's see...how to best explain this.  We started with looking at the various clothing that the colonial people would wear.  There is this AMAZING site from Colonial Williamsburg (that a 4th grade colleague pointed out) that is chalk full of information about the time period.  I used the part about what the different people wore at the time.  This is an interactive website where you actually get to dress members of society. (click on the blue link above to go directly to the site) We did this together, with me on the board, and them choosing the clothing.  The LOVED it.  Really, it was quite fun!  I also had them fill in a circle map with all the clothing as we were going so that they had a record of what each piece was called.  You can grab the Circle Map here. On a side note, the Colonial Williamsburg site has a fantastic teacher forum to join, which has even MORE lesson plans.  It is worth it (and free) to sign up. 

Then, to help them really grasp our dialogue studies (in which we used some workbook pages and lessons from our Basal), I asked them to think of a realistic scenario that would occur between two people living in Colonial times.  It could be a father and son harvesting rye, or a man and woman from the gentry at a social gathering.  Whatever they wanted.   Again from the Williamsburg site, I printed out a list of terms that would have been common for people to say back then (ie: 'Twas a good morning, or Hello, cousin, how are thee today?)  Using these phrases, I asked the kids to create a dialogue between the two people within that given scenario.  I got that off the teacher forum section...you have to be a member to access it.  Again, it is free (and no, they aren't asking me to say this...it just really is good ;) ) 

Oh my!   What fun they had trying to put the phrases into action.  My English Learners struggled with this, but in the end, they were able to create something that made sense and worked for the colonial times.

Next, using the circle maps of clothing they created earlier, the students drew the two people, wearing "authentic" clothing.  Placing them on a background, they wrote their dialogue in between the two people on a dialogue bubble.  Here is the final result.
This isn't complete, but you get the idea.

All in all, they had a good time doing this...and we put quite a few standards and subjects together!  Win-win for all. 


  1. This is GENIUS, Steph! I love every single thing about it ... my mind is spinning trying to figure out where to incorporate it in my class ... they could definitely use some more dialogue practise.


  2. I love this!!!! I will be adding this to my post-yucky state test lesson plans soon! Testing next week!!! Thanks for an always amazing and informative post:)

    4th Grade Frolics

  3. Oh My!!!! THIS IS A 4 STAR POST-fits in perfectly for what we are studying and presenting today-Colonial Times for our school wide Time Fair! THANKS FOR SHARING!

  4. I love this idea! We will be working it into our Dust Bowl unit. Thank you!!

  5. That's really cool!! Wish I'd seen that a couple months ago! I also love the Jamestown website for their movies, games and podcasts

  6. I grew up in a family that had several friends who used the old-fashioned "thee" on a regular basis, and I learned to use it with these friends. For what it's worth, they always used the singular verb: "How IS thee today?" which sounds a little odd to us today. Do the Williamsburg folks use the plural verb? My parents' friends were Quaker, and Quakers may have been using a different verb form, as they used the "plain speech" as a protest against using different forms of address for your "betters" than for those in your class or lower. Fascinating post.

  7. Such a wonderful idea! Anytime I can incorporate clothing into history the kids get the biggest kick out of it and I do too! I'll be pinning this activity to use next year when I teach about Colonial Life.

    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  8. I love how you "killed 2 birds with one stone." As teachers, we need to do that more often. I love your blog. :)
    I'm a new follower. :)
    Creating Life Long Learners

  9. This is such an easy way and fun way to incorporate all of those pesky standards into one fun activity. You are always so good and doing this! Thank you for sharing this great idea!

    Young Teacher Love 5th Grade Blog

  10. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your fantastic ideas. I use them all the time.

    1. That is sweet of you! I am glad you find the ideas useful :)

  11. What a great activity! Do you happen to have the list of terms used?? I searched the Wiliamsburg site and I can't seem to find it! I am so excited to do this activity with my students!


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