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Colonialism PDF


Colonialism is a hands-on history unit about the Portuguese, Spanish, French, British, and Dutch empires from about 1500 to 1700. It is for a mentor to use with ages from 6 to 18.


Colonialism is the second unit in the Colonial History course. This unit is about the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British colonial empires, the causes of colonialism, and how colonies operated. It includes the five major colonial powers, mercantilism, the military dominance of the colonial powers, settlements, missionaries, and trading factories.

This book is for adult mentors to use as a resource when planning lessons, not a textbook for students.

This unit has sections on:

  • Colonialism Defined
  • Portuguese Empire
  • Spanish Empire
  • The British, French, & Dutch Empires

Layers of Learning is activity-based and this unit guide includes many hands-on ways to learn about Colonialism. Here are a few things you will find to do inside this unit:

  • Play a game to learn about mercantilism
  • Make a mobile about ways the Portuguese used threats of force to get what they wanted
  • Color Portuguese setter paper dolls
  • Map the major European trade routes
  • Make a 3-panel mini-poster of the settlement of Santo Domingo
  • Read a primary source account of a missionary in Spanish-Mexican territory
  • Pick six events form the history of Lima, Peru and make an illustrated timeline
  • And much more!

Layers of Learning History units include Library Lists of books on the topic, a family read-aloud suggestion, hands-on activities, printables and paper crafts, sidebars for extra learning, and tools to help you assess your student’s progress and mastery. Learn more about how Layers of Learning works.

See Inside

This is a view of a two page spread from Colonialism:

This unit, like all of Layers of Learning is pick-and-choose so the mentor can decide which Explorations to choose from among many options.


This unit was written to be used for a month but contains plenty of content for many more weeks of learning if you choose. This is a pick-and-choose curriculum, meant to be cycled back to in the future when your child is older. As such, it intentionally includes far more material than you can possibly cover in a month.

Colonialism is also part of the overall Colonial History course, the third Year of the four year Layers of Learning History cycle. If you use the program in order, it will take you through the history of the world from ancient times through the 21st century. However, each unit stands alone and can be used independently of any other unit.

Printable Pack

This unit comes with a downloadable Printable Pack that includes all the student worksheets. The printables can be copied as many times as needed for your family or class.

You can download the Printable Pack from your receipt or from your account at Layers of Learning. This printable pack includes 29 pages.

Extra Resources

This unit comes with extra weblinks and a YouTube video playlist on the Colonial History Resources page.


PDF Download








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