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Unit 3: Eastern Pennsylvania in the Colonial Period [Individual]

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Unit 3 encompasses the Colonial Period in North America, which began with Columbus’ discovery of Hispaniola in 1492 and concluded with the end of America’s Revolutionary War with Great Britain in 1783. The unit offers a broad global view of events that led to the colonization of North America before narrowing its scope to the settlement of Pennsylvania. You’ll learn the reasons behind Europe’s interest in North America and the complex struggles that European powers waged among themselves to gain dominance in the new land. The environmental impacts of new cultural beliefs and practices will be presented through a historical perspective.

Student Goals and Expectations
Students will:

  1. learn how two physically separated continents – and their vastly different cultures – were connected by evolving technology
  2. understand how living organisms introduced from one part of the world into another can disrupt life – human, plant, and animal – in their new habitats.
  3. learn why geography and natural resources influenced the European settlement of eastern Pennsylvania
  4. learn how to develop graphic models that interpret the growth and impacts of different cultural groups, and how these groups gain and maintain sustainability through interactions with the environment and other people


  • Electronic, Interactive Textbook (PDF)
  • Interactive Visual Timeline
  • Unit Overview Video


3 Curriculum Introduction
7 Unit 3 Introduction
8 Lesson 1: Finding North America
8 Lesson 1.1: Pangaea and ecological isolation
9 Lesson 1.2: Early European exploration of North America
16 Lesson 1.3: Europe arrives in North America
20 Lesson 1.4: The Columbian Exchange
23 Lesson 1, Activity 1: The Columbian Exchange
24 Lesson 1, Activity 2: Ecological Timeline Plots
26 Lesson 2: Discovering Penn’s Woods
26 Lesson 2.1: The competition for North America’s resources
31 Lesson 2.2: The ubiquitous beaver
34 Lesson 2.3: Hypotheses regarding the Little Ice Age
36 Lesson 2.4: Europe settles along the Delaware
39 Lesson 2.5: William Penn’s “Holy Experiment”
45 Lesson 2.6: The demise of the Lenape
50 Lesson 2, Activity 1: Ecological timeline plots
51 Lesson 2, Activity 2: The Little Ice Age
52 Lesson 3: The Europeanization of Eastern Pennsylvania
52 Lesson 3.1: Geography and geology of the wilderness
59 Lesson 3.2: Establishing settlements in the wilderness
64 Lesson 3.3: The Pennsylvania Germans
72 Lesson 3.4: The environmental impacts of settlement
78 Lesson 3, Activity 1: Group Assessment: Finding a place to call home
80 Lesson 4: Bethlehem, a diamond in the wilderness
80 Lesson 4 Introduction
81 Lesson 4.1: A community of missionaries
83 Lesson 4.2: The General Economy
91 Lesson 4.3: Bethlehem during the American Revolution
95 Lesson 4.4: Comparing colonial period human ecosystems on the Pennsylvania frontier
101 Lesson 4.5: Using an adaptive cycle model to explain the demise of Moravian Bethlehem
104 Unit 3 Timeline: Holocene Epoch/The Late Woodland, Contact, and Colonial Cultural Periods
107 Index
111 Glossary
117 Principal Sources