7-8 Grade Field Trip Lesson

Fort at No. 4 History

Grades: 7-8

Subjects: Social Studies, New Hampshire and United States History

Concepts: Colonial period in United States History

Skills: Reading comprehension, Cooperative learning, social skills

Materials: Handout: History of the Fort at No. 4, Handout: Student Guide

Time: 1-2 class periods

Focus Questions

  • What was life like on a frontier settlement in colonial period New Hampshire?
  • What aspects of the history of Fort at No. 4 add to our understanding of United States History, especially the events of pre-Revolutionary America?

Instructional Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Have a successful and productive field trip by becoming familiar with the background information of Fort at No. 4
  • Describe the key events and people that are part of the history of Fort at No. 4
  • Connect historic examples from Fort at No. 4 to larger events in United States History
  • Present and teach their answers to the Student Guide questions in a small group setting
Rationale and Background
Connection to the NH Framework Proficiencies

Introductory Activity

Announce to students that they will be taking a field trip to the Fort at No. 4 in Charlestown, NH. This is a reconstructed Fort from the 18th century that provides a snapshot of life at that time. Explain to students that they are studying the Fort to supplement their curriculum, because it will help them gain a deeper understanding of life in colonial America. Tell students that the goal of this lesson is to give them background knowledge before their visit to the Fort.

Set the Scene

From the History of Fort at No. 4, read the introductory paragraph to the class entitled The Story:

The history of The Fort at No. 4 in Charlestown, New Hampshire in many ways reflects the larger growth and development of the English colonies. This area in western New Hampshire was settled by pioneers who were characterized by their determination, work-ethic and emerging industrial skills. As the English colonies grew throughout the 18th century and immigration from England continued at a rapid pace, the need for more farmland and economic opportunity drove settlers west. The “west” in colonial New England included the vast tracts of land beyond the established towns. This was territory dense with forest and overflowing with deer, beaver and fish; it was also land that was home to various Native American tribes. Just as coming to North America provided economic, religious and social opportunities, westward expansion of the colonies represented similar freedoms.

To follow-up introduction, show a map of New Hampshire and the location of Fort at No. 4 in relation to the students’ home town. Have the class estimate the number of miles. Have students imagine making the trek this frontier settlement from a more established town in eastern New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Ask:

  • How would colonists get to the Fort?
  • Why would they go?
  • What would they bring with them?
  • What do you think life was like once they arrived?
  • How did life there change over time? How has life in your home town changed over the years?

Students will have the exciting opportunity to find out the answers to these questions through their preparation and visit to the Living History Museum at Fort at No. 4.

Instructional Resources or Materials

Instructional Procedure

A Jigsaw

Explain to students that the class will be learning about the Fort at No. 4 through a cooperative learning activity called the “Jigsaw”. Use the visual analogy of a jigsaw puzzle to describe for students how the lesson works.

Make copies of the Handout: The History of Fort at No. 4 for each student.

Pieces Connected

Students begin in Home Teams of four people each. Every Home Team learns the same body of information – the answers to the questions on the Student Guide. When students are in their Home Teams, distribute the Handout: The History of Fort at No. 4: Student Guide.

Each student chooses one section to read and answer the questions. There are four sections of the Fort History to choose from. The goal is for all students to have the answers to all parts of the Student Guide.

Pieces Apart

Once students have selected their area to read, the puzzle “breaks apart” and students meet with their Expert Teams made up of all the other students in the class who selected that area. For example, all the students who chose Part One of the Fort History will meet with all other students who chose Part One. The next step is for each Expert Team to answer the questions on the Student Guide. Give enough time for all members of the team to read and discuss the questions. All members should write down the group’s responses to the questions so that they can teach those answers to their Home Team members. Accountability is key for successful collaboration. Remind students that everyone will be responsible for the answers to all questions by the end of the lesson.

Pieces Connected Again

Once all the questions are answered, have students return to their original Home Teams. Ask that they take turns teaching each other the information. This is an excellent opportunity to teach small group social skills such as being attentive, note-taking and eye contact.

Circulate among students during the time in their Expert and Home Teams to ensure that everyone is on task and accurate.

Ask each Home Team to read the Conclusion together and collaborate to answer the questions found on the Student Guide.

Concluding Discussion

To conclude the lesson and check for understanding, conduct a whole class discussion about the History of Fort at No. 4 based on the questions on the Student Guide. Connect the information learned to the larger events of United Sates history that the class has been studying.

Next, have students generate two questions each to ask the Fort at No. 4 Interpreters. Offer bonus points to students who actually get answers the day of the field trip.

End by discussing student and teacher expectations of the field trip to Fort at No. 4.

Curriculum Modifications/Extension


Informal assessment based on participation during class discussions.

Completion of the questions on the Handout: The History of Fort at No. 4: Student Guide