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Pocahontas Mini Unit Study

In November 2005, New Line Cinema (the studio behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy) will release The New World, a film inspired by the legend of John Smith and Pocahontas and set in the Jamestown colony. It’s too early to tell if the film will be good, but the website for it looks promising. Given my excitement over a new historical movie as well as the recent publication of the Colonial America issue of the magazine, I thought the story of Pocahontas would be a fitting topic for this month’s newsletter.

Pocahontas was a member of the Algonquian tribe and the daughter of Powhatan, a powerful tribal chief who controlled the tribes and land surrounding Jamestown. Legend has it that a young Pocahontas saved the life of Captain John Smith, a Jamestown colonist, in 1607 and from there on out was on good terms with the colony, periodically visiting her new friends there. A few years later, after many dramatic events, she was baptized into the Christian faith (a portrait of this is hung in the Rotunda in Washington, D.C.) , changed her name to Rebecca and married one of the colonists, John Rolfe. After their marriage, they traveled to London with their son Thomas to help convince new investors to put money into the Jamestown colony. Unfortunately, on the return trip, Rebecca (Pocahontas) fell ill and never recovered.

In this mini unit study, you can: read more about the life of Pocahontas, uncover what is fact vs. fiction in the popular Disney Pocahontas movie, learn some words in the Powhatan language, read a letter John Rolfe wrote about his marriage to Pocahontas, see the picture of her baptism in the Rotunda and a statue at Jamestown, play an online game featuring Pocahontas, test your knowledge about her with a quiz, work on coloring some pictures and create a lesson plan that uses the Disney film to teach about the Powhatan.


Read a biography of Pocahontas (younger kids):

Pocahontas Biography #1

Read a more detailed biography of Pocahontas (older kids):

Pocahontas Biography #2

Learn a few words of Powhatan:

Powhatan Dictionary

Fact vs. fiction in the Disney movie

The Real Pocahontas

Primary Source Documents

Letter from John Rolfe regarding his marriage to Pocahontas:

John Rolfe's letter



See the painting of Pocahontas's baptism that hangs in the Rotunda in Washington D.C.:

Painting of Pocahontas


See a statue of Pocahontas at Jamestown:


Play an online game with Pocahontas to find out what things don't belong in early 1600's America (younger kids):

Online Game



Coloring pages on Pocahontas:

Coloring pages

Worksheets on Pocahontas

Worksheet #1

Worksheet #2

Test your knowledge of Pocahontas with this quiz:

Quiz on Pocahontas

Create a lesson plan (teachers) on the Powhatan using Disney's Pocahontas film:

Film Lesson Plan

Recommended Resource

Love and Hate in Jamestown

This month's reading recommendation is summer reading for the adults, particularly those of you that will be kicking off the school year with early American history. Love and Hate in Jamestown will literally take you back in time to Jamestown and provide an intimate and at times, riveting, look at early colonial times.

In late December of 1606, approximately 105 British colonists sailed to America, seeking gold and a trade route to the Pacific. Instead, they found disease, hunger, and natives who wanted them gone. Only the presence of a low-born former slave, Captain John Smith, averted extinction for the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

The Jamestown colony is one of the great survival stories of American history, and this book brings it fully to life for the first time. Drawing on extensive original documents, David A. Price paints intimate portraits of the major figures: from the formidable monarch Chief Powhatan, to the resourceful but unpopular leader John Smith, to the spirited Pocahontas. He also gives a rare balanced view of relations between the English and the natives and debunks popular myths about the colony.
(Publisher's Description)

Book (Paperback)
Authors: David Price

Amazon Price: $10.17 (new)

Read more about the book on Amazon

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