Family Life: Then and Now

A third grade webquest comparing family life of the 1700's to today's families through journal writing.

 Created by Tracey Hartman


Introduction | Task | Procedure | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits




It is Friday night. You are looking forward to an exciting weekend with your family. Tomorrow, you and your family are going to Carowinds and you go to sleep early. The next morning you wake up in a bed but realize it is not your own. You see your sister sleeping in a bed across the room. She wakes up and both of you are wondering what on earth is going on. You are both in a odd long room, it is kind of dark but you see an opening to one side. You walk over and begin to descend the 'ladder'. Mom and Dad are up and walking around the little building. You all look at each other in amazement when your dad spots a note on the 'hearth'.

The note reads: Welcome to Colonial America in the year 1765! As a family, you must act as if you lived in this era and blend in with the community. After the thirty-first day, if no one suspects you as outsiders, you will wake up in your own beds. You have been provided with one set of clothes and enough food to prepare two days of meals. In order to return to the 21st century, you will have to leave a journal on the hearth documenting the daily life of each family member for the last week of your stay. In the journal you will write what you did as a member of a colonial family. Once back in the "luxury" of the 21st century, each family member will write another week of journal entries and compare them to the entries of the 1700's


How will you and your family live your lives in the 1700's for a month without anyone finding out you are from the 21st century?

Good Luck in your adventure!

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To learn about life in the 1700's you and your "family members" will do research using the internet and our Media Center. Once your family unit has found enough information, each of you will write a week's worth of journal entries. You will then write another week's worth of journal entries as a 21st century family. The final step will be to present the similarities and differences of both families to the class.

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This adventure is happening to more than just one family. Just like the 21st century, 18th century America had many different kinds of families. There were families of different cultures (English, Native American, African American) and families of different economic status (rich, poor). The lives of these people were very different from each other.

Each member of the class will be assigned to a family group:

African-American Family

Wealthy Patriot Family

Poor Patriot Family

Native American Family


Each member of the family group will be assigned a role:





Brother/Sister (if five students in a group)


Once the groups and members are established then take a few moments to talk about what your names will be. You can keep your first names but the whole family will need a common last name.


Questions to Ask

Each group will work together to find information for the entire family. Click on the family link below to get a list of questions to think about. You can print out the questions to use when doing research. These questions are just a guide. There may be other interesting facts to find!

hint: The will always bring you to the main (home) page.

African-American Family

Wealthy Patriot Family

Poor Patriot Family

Native American Family


Map of the Original 13 Colonies

Fill out the Worksheet


Click here to get a worksheet to use for answering the above questions. Print out the worksheet. Just like the questions, you may find other interesting information. Create extra categories on the back of the worksheet if needed.


Now for the resources. The links below have been carefully selected to give you the information you need. Some links are for colonial life in general and all families and family members should use these links. Others are more specific. These links have been listed by family type and family member.

So get to it...I'm sure you have gone through at least one of your two meals and I bet you could use a change of clothes!

hint: the links below open in a new window. To get back to this page just close the top window. You can go through links on these pages without worrying about losing your place.

General resources for all:
soap making (scroll to soap in the American Colonies)
everyday items
colonial photos

African-American Family:
agricultural slaves
more slaves in agriculture
slave life (scroll down to slaves in New England)

Native American Family:

Poor Patriot Family:
The Dagetts

Wealthy Patriot Family:


life of a black woman
Daily life of women slaves

school tools
black and white relationships
mealtime for children

school tools
black and white relationships
mealtime for children


Creating the Journal

It is time to begin the journal entries for the last week of your stay in Colonial America. With the information gathered each family member will record daily events for Sunday through Saturday.

Things to think about:

Remember: You are writing events in the journal as if they happened to you that day. You are not writing about other people. You are using your research to write about the daily life of families in 1765. Read the following example of a poor patriot girl (sister):


"It finally happened! During morning chores while milking Bessie, I heard Poppa in Suzy's stall. He was making a lot of noise. Suzy was in foal and poppa was helping with the birth. I have waited for this day for so long! I already have a name for her.....Claudia! Then I had to leave for school. The teacher made me sit next to Billy today. He is so much older then me. I am so glad he is in his last year, I won't have to put up with him the rest of my time in school. At least I was able to write about Claudia today on my slate during writing time.

After school I ran home as fast as I could. I didn't even stop to skip stones with Laura. All I wanted to do was see Claudia. I watched her for a while but then Mamma said I had to get the churn out to make butter. Oh well, I will see her tomorrow. I better stop writing and blow my light out. I have a long day tomorrow."


Can you pick out events or items that normally would not happen in today's family? Do you have to "blow out your light at night"? Where do you get your butter? How come Billy is so much older but in the same room as the girl?

It is important for the family to work together while journal writing because many of the same daily events can be written about from different view points. Perhaps the little girl's father also wrote about the birth of a new horse. Maybe the brother also wrote about Billy in school.

After the family group works together to create all entries for the week, the family group will again work together to create journal entries for the same dates............but in the year 2001!

Steps in making the Journal

1. While in your group brainstorm ideas for events. Then on your own paper, write your journal entry. When the entry has been edited, you will copy your entry onto a larger paper along with the entries of your family members.

2. All four (or five) family member's entries will be on one page. You can see an example of this page here:
Example of journal page. Do not print this page. Your teacher will have copies for you.  

3. Then the group will go through the same process for a family in the 21st century. The pages will be presented in a journal book. The 18th century page will be facing the 21st century page. Both will have the same date but the years will be 1765 and 2001. You can see an example of how the pages will be displayed here: Example of journal pages. Click below to see guidelines for making the journal.

Journal Guidelines

When the journal is complete, the group will present its findings. In the presentation, the group will need the completed journal and one other visual.

Ideas for visual: If the group chooses a different idea be sure to get approval from the teacher.
overhead transparency
kid pix slide show
video created in imovie
internet sites

The presentation should be between five to ten minutes long. References should be made to the journal and similarities and differences should between the family of 1765 and the family of 2001. The presentation will be scored by the class using a rubric. To see how the presentation will be scored, look at the rubric in the evaluation section.




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Go to the rubric to see how groups and individual students will be evaluated after
the completion of the webquest.


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After completing this webquest you will have a better understanding of the

similarities and differences of families both in terms of time and cultural significance.


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This page created using Claris Home Page 3.0

Image Sources:


Animation Factory

Webquest format and rubric from the Webquest Page.

Map copied with permission from the University of Virginia's American Studies map archive.





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