Lesson Plan: The Lives of Slaves in Colonial America

The Life of A Slave in Colonial America

Interpreter, Harold Caldwell discusses the life of enslaved people living in Colonial America.


This lesson uses a video clip from Colonial Williamsburg to illustrate the culture and lives of enslaved people brought to colonial America. Students will explore this topic through a vocabulary activity, graphic organizer and by identifying differences between the lives of slaves and their own lives.


  • WARM-UP:

    Before beginning class, have the students think about the following question:

    • Brainstorm what you know about slavery in colonial America.

    After discussing the warm-up question, have the students complete the vocabulary activity. If using their personal devices, they should make a copy of the Google Slide and match each term to the appropriate definition. If they are using this as a printed handout, they can draw arrows to the correct match.

    VOCABULARY ACTIVITY: Slavery in Colonial America Vocabulary Activity (Google Slide)

    Students will match definitions for the following vocabulary terms:

    • Traditions

    • Preserve

    • Culture

    • Woodworking

    • Arduous

    After reviewing the vocabulary terms and addressing any misconceptions, have the students view the following video clip about the slavery in the American colonies. Students should either complete the Boston Massacre Graphic Organizer with information from the video or answer the questions associated with the video clip.

    HANDOUT: Slavery in Colonial America Graphic Organizer (Google Slide)

  • Video Clip: The Life of A Slave in Colonial America (7:21)

    • How did enslaved people keep their African heritage alive?

    • What types of work were the enslaved people responsible for at the Randolph House?

    • How might the type of work in a colonial city be different from enslaved people living on a plantation?

    • How were slaves treated that worked inside of the Randolph House?

    Using what they learned in the video clip, students will make a T-Chart comparing life in colonial times to today. On the T-Chart, they will identify specific aspects of their lives and how those aspects compare to that of the enslaved population living at the Randolph House. Students will use the handout linked below to organize their answers.

    HANDOUT: T-Chart - Comparing Life in Colonial Times to Today (Google Doc)


    As a culminating exercise, have the students complete an exit slip that answers the following question:

    • Explain the impact that slavery had on the lives of slaves in colonial America.

    Traditions Quilt- Students will use the Traditions Quilt Square Handout (Google Doc) to illustrate the different aspects of enslaved tradition, culture, work and family during the colonial time period. They can use words, pictures, and color to tell the story of the enslaved people that lived and worked at the Randolph House.

    Definition Poem- Students can create a definition poem about slavery in colonial America using the Definition Poem Handout (Google Doc). Students will fill in the spaces to illustrate the lives of enslaved people at that time.

Additional Resources


  • Arduous
  • Bed Chamber
  • Colonial Williamsburg
  • Culture
  • Dairy House
  • Field Hands
  • Mancala
  • Master
  • Plantation
  • Preserve
  • Scullery Maid
  • Slavery
  • Traditions
  • Woodworking


State HistoryU.S. History


Middle School