Most of your students will probably hear the name Captain John Smith and think of the Disney depiction of the story of Pocahontas – John Smith is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed colonist who fell in love with a Native American. What they may not realize is that Captain John Smith was real, and played a vital role in the history of the Chesapeake Bay region.
Teachers may find it pretty easy to work the Chesapeake Bay into a science class, but there are a lot of ways to work Bay education into a history, English or social studies classroom as well. The Bay played a vital role in the colonial times with the establishment of the first English colony in Jamestown, Va. and Captain John Smith’s exploration of the Bay, the information from which remains valuable to us today.
Why should YOU teach about Captain John Smith?
Captain John Smith traveled up the Chesapeake Bay with 14 men, keeping a journal with detailed information about the people and places the crew encountered along the way. The observations Smith made during his journey allowed him to chart a very detailed map of the land and waterways making up the Chesapeake Bay region. Smith’s original chart is surprisingly accurate to the Chesapeake Bay as it is today, but a lot has certainly changed.
Over the centuries, the land has become more developed and more populated, leading to significant changes in the water and wildlife found in the region. The observations of Captain John Smith can teach us valuable lessons about the way humans can shape, for better or for worse, the land we live on. Your students will learn that Captain John Smith is not just a character in a Disney movie, but he also represents a vital chapter in the Chesapeake region’s history.
So how do YOU teach about Captain John Smith?
There are plenty of teaching resources about Captain John Smith and the colonial Chesapeake region. You can use the journey of John Smith to teach your students about land use, population growth, history, effects of humans on the environment and change over time. Start by checking out the resources below:
- Colonial Chesapeake Map – Sultana Project
- John Smith 400 Project – Sultana Project
- The Chesapeake Bay in Captain John Smith’s Time
- Exploring the Chesapeake Then and Now – National Geographic
- Captain John Smith and colonial times – Bay Backpack