Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Jumping Into Jamestown

Artifacts and History

Tammy Hawkins, Patricia Turner, Janis Slater, Pam Bracken | Published: January 3rd, 2024 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 5th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course Oklahoma Young Scholars/Javits
  • Time Frame Time Frame 200 minutes
  • Duration More 3 or 4 50-minute class periods


Students explore visual artifacts and do research to ascertain what life at Jamestown was like. They research tobacco to discover how it helped make Jamestown successful.

Essential Question(s)

What was life like in Jamestown? What made Jamestown a success?



Students view a picture of a nail and an ear picker found at Jamestown. They brainstorm what they think they are and discuss how they would have been used by the original settlers.


Students go to the Historic Jamestowne website. With a partner, they explore one artifact found at the archeological site to learn about Jamestown.


Students use a Google slide to present their knowledge of their chosen artifact. The slides are shown to the entire class so that every pair of researchers can learn about the others’ artifacts.


After watching a short video about tobacco, students research this major Jamestown crop. With this information, they create a poster answering the following questions about tobacco: What was tobacco and what did it look like? How did they grow and harvest it? Why was this crop valuable? How did this crop make Jamestown successful?


Students are graded on the slide they create for their class slideshow and the poster they make about tobacco.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Inside Out handout (attached; 1 per student)

  • Nail from Jamestown (attached)

  • Ear Picker from Jamestown (attached)

  • Tobacco Resources for Teachers (attached)

  • 8 ½ x 11 plain paper (1 per student)

  • Laptop or other devices

  • Wifi/internet connectivity

  • Markers, Crayons, Colored Pencils

  • Pencils/Pens

  • Masking or other tape

  • Sticky notes


15 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to facilitate the lesson.

Pass out the attached Inside Out handout, then display slide 2 and explain how students will organize their thoughts on Jamestown. First, they are to answer the question What do you know about Jamestown? in the smallest circle. Give students 1-2 minutes to write. Then, with a partner, they share their information, and record their new information on their sheet in the middle circle. Next, pass the attached Nail and Ear Picker images around the room. Explain that students should answer the questions on slide 2 in the outer circle. Ask for volunteers to share out as time permits.  

Move through slides 3-5 and review the essential questions and learning objectives, letting students know they will jump into Jamestown through images of historical artifacts found at the site of the original Jamestown Settlement.

Display slide 6 and share the video clip “Jamestown in a Minute: Women, Romans, Englishmen” from the Historic Jamestowne website. When the clip is over, ask students, What does an archeologist do? How can archeologists help us understand what happened at Jamestown?


35 Minute(s)

Move to slide 7 and direct students to the Historic Jamestowne website “Explore the Artifacts: Browse by Material Type.”

Display slide 8 and explain to students that they will be exploring one object of their choice with an Elbow Partner. Let them know that they are to “explore” their object to learn more about what Jamestown was really like in 1609. Have students make notes to use later when they create their slide presentation.


50 Minute(s)

Move to slide 9 and share the tech tool Google Slides. Explain to each pair that they are acting as archeologists, presenting the material they have researched on the Jamestown settlement on one slide. They can cut and paste the image into the slide or just describe and explain what the artifact is and how it reveals life in Jamestown. Explain that each of their individual slides will become part of a Jamestown Virtual Museum made up of all of the artifacts chosen by the entire class.

Display slide 10 after you have inserted the link to the Google Slides. Go through the Google slideshow, letting each set of partners explain their artifact as it is projected.


Display slide 11 and show the following video clip, “John Smith, Jamestown, and the Roots of America.” It describes the eventual flourishing of Jamestown through the growing of tobacco.

After the video, talk about how Jamestown was set up for failure, yet it became the first successful colony. Remind students that the original settlers came to find gold in the New World, but the reality is they found something that was almost as valuable as gold in the growing of tobacco. There was a price to pay in slavery and tobacco smoking.

Move to slides 12-13, and have students research tobacco using Internet sources. Using their research, have each student create a poster on the Tobacco Template handout answering the following questions about this cash crop:

What was tobacco and what did it look like?

How did they grow and harvest it?

Why was this crop valuable?

How did this crop make Jamestown successful?

Display slide 14. After all students have completed their tobacco posters, display them around the room for students to do a Gallery Walk. Supply students with sticky notes to leave one or two comments or questions around fellow students’ posters.


10 Minute(s)

Move to slide 15. Take a moment and review with students what they learned from the Jamestown Virtual Museum the class created as well as what they now know about tobacco. Ask them the following question:  What three things do you now know about Jamestown that you didn’t know before ?

Have students return to their Inside Out handout and write at least three things around the outer circle.

Opportunities for Gifted Learners

Gifted students can write a brief first-person biography of one of the important  figures in Jamestown history (i.e.  John Smith, Pocahontas, John Rolfe, Powhatan, Edward Maria Wingfield, George Percy, etc.).