Poster for Federal Art Project series on the history of civic services, showing water being drawn from a well outside a fort in "New Amsterdam" in 1658.
Credit: Courtesy of American Memory.
Beginning with Columbus's first landing in the New World, European nations laid claim to what would become the United States. Vestiges of that history are part of the American landscape. Spanish missions from Florida to California, the distinctive architecture of the French Quarter in New Orleans, place names like New London, Lake Bayou D'Arbonne, Harlem, Las Cruces, etc.
The lessons in this unit are designed to help your students make connections between European voyages of discovery, colonial spheres of influence, and various aspects of American culture.
How did England, France, Holland, Russia, and Spain come to make claims on territory in North America? What was the impact of these multi-national influences on the settlement of North America?
Make five copies of the map. Cut apart the territories to create a kind of jigsaw puzzle and place the pieces in an envelope. If possible, include Alaska and attach it to Russia's claims in the northeastern United States.
To make the Lesson more dramatic, hang another large map on a bulletin board in class. Do not mark off the territories or cut the map. When each group makes its presentation, the students can attach their territories to the blank map. In this way, America will be put back together in your classroom!
Share with the class the 1482 World Map from 1492: An Ongoing Voyage, a link from the EDSITEment-reviewed website American Memory. Compare the map to a contemporary world map. Ask the students to list elements that are "wrong with this picture" in comparing the 1482 map to a contemporary map. Students should note such points as:
Encourage discussion. Does the 1482 map indicate that people knew the world was round? (Yes, the rounded portions of the map are a result of the attempt to show a round, three-dimensional object on a flat map.) Why are there "wind heads?" (They indicate the dependence on the wind for travel.) What makes the date of this map significant? (Columbus's first voyage, only ten years later, would change the map of the world forever.)
As a result of Columbus' voyage, Spain made the first claims to the New World, but other countries soon made claims of their own as a result of the voyages of their explorers. By the 18th century, North America had been divided on the basis of these various claims.
Divide the class into five groups. Give each group an envelope containing the "jigsaw puzzle" map of the U.S., showing the territorial claims of England, France, Holland, Russia, and Spain in the 18th century.
Have the groups remove the puzzle pieces from the envelope and put together the America of the 18th century. Tell the students that it would have been accurate in the 18th century to think of America not as one country but as separate territories controlled by European powers, as indicated by the puzzle pieces. Do the students know why those powers were in control?
Have the groups mix up the pieces and put the puzzle back together at least once more.
European claims in the New World were based on the exploits of a variety of explorers. The temporary ownership of America by various European powers—specifically, England, France, Holland, Russia, and Spain—has left an enduring influence in America as witnessed through architecture, place names, music and other cultural touchstones.
Continuing from the activity in Lesson 2, have group members take one piece of the puzzle and form new groups with other students holding the same piece. (If the teacher wants to form the groups, each puzzle piece could have a number on the back. The teacher can pre-assign a specific number to each individual.)
Each group then uses the maps, images and media listed below to explain to the class what influence their assigned European nation had—or continues to have—on the U.S. Groups will complete research either in the library or online and make a presentation based on their findings.
Each group should begin its presentation by attaching its enlarged puzzle piece to the large outline map on the bulletin board (as explained in Preparation Instructions, above), so that the United States is gradually put back together again.
Groups can divide the labor by subject:
Or, groups could divide the labor by skill, for example:
If groups are divided by skill, a student "specialist" (or specialists) is primarily responsible for that area but depends on group members for assistance as needed. Researchers should not do all the research, but rather manage that phase of the work. Under any circumstances, the group should cover all subject areas listed above—geography, history (parts 1 and 2), archives, and music.
Instruct each group to regard the assigned images as pieces of a puzzle. How do they fit together to tell the story of the European territory in the United States?
Influences from Holland
|Hoor De Wind Waait Door de Bomen /||Listen How the Wind Blows Through the Trees|
|Hoor de wind waait door de bomen||Listen how the wind blows through the trees|
|hier in huis daar waait de wind.||even here in the house the wind is blowing|
|Zou de goede Sint wel komen,||You think Santa Claus is still coming|
|nu hij het weer zo lelijk vindt?||since the weather is so nasty?|
|Nu hij het weer zo lelijk vindt.||Since the weather is so nasty.|
|Als hij komt in donkere nachten,||He travels in dark nights,|
|op zijn paardje o zo snel.||on his horsey, oh so fast.|
|Als hij wist hoe zeer wij wachten,||If he knew how much we long to see him,|
|ja gewis dan kwam hij wel,||then for sure he will come,|
|ja gewis dan kwam hij wel.then for sure he will come.|
Native Americans were greatly affected by the arrival of Europeans in the New World. In the Codex, available through a link from the EDSITEment resource American Memory, the people of Huejotzingo told the story of their encounter with the Spanish. Background information about the Codex is also available through a link from American Memory. See the fourth segment on the page, titled "Testimony from Huejotzingo."
Share one or more pages from the Huejotzingo Codex with the class. The first page illustrates the products and services provided as tribute to the Spanish. Judging from the Codex, what were these products and services?
Challenge the students to use images, as the people of Huejotzingo did, to illustrate the information previously presented by the groups (England, France, Holland, Russia, Spain). Using pictures as much as possible, students should be sure to:
4 class periods