Designing a Magazine Cover


Elementary, Middle


Students will evaluate the impact of people and events on the survival of Jamestown and design a magazine cover to illustrate their findings.

Standards of Learning:

VA SOLs: VS 1g; VS 3e, f, g; ELA 4.6; ELA 6.1; ELA 6.5
National Standards for History: Historical Analysis and Interpretation; Historical Comprehension

Materials Needed for Activity:

Key Jamestown People and Events
Evaluating Key Jamestown People and Events Worksheet

Other Helpful Resources:

Cultures at Jamestown – Essay
Life at Jamestown – Essay
Young Pocahontas – Biography
John Smith – Biography
Angela – Biography
Women in Early Virginia – Essay
Tobacco and Labor – Essay


Step 1: Review with students that Jamestown is remembered as the place where America began but that it came very close to failing many times, as other colonies had done such as the Roanoke colony in what is now North Carolina. As is often the case, key people and events at Jamestown are frequently cited as playing a significant role in Jamestown’s survival as a colony.

Step 2: Share with students that they will have an opportunity to highlight one or more of the key people and/or events they think were crucial to Jamestown’s survival by selecting one to feature in a story for a magazine read by thousands of young people all over the country. After they have made their selection, they will design a cover for the magazine’s story. First, they will need to review, and then evaluate, some of the possible choices.

Step 3: Break students into groups of no more than five students. Distribute the Evaluating Key Jamestown People and Events Worksheet with names of people and events that are often credited with contributing to the survival of Jamestown. Give students time to discuss the choices listed, using the questions on the sheet as guidelines. After some time discussing the different choices, ask students to rank them in order of importance to Jamestown’s survival. Note: If consensus seems impossible, students may have more than one person or event listed in the same position.

Step 4: After the designated time, have one person in each group report to the class. Write on the board the decisions of the groups. If groups differ on their choices, try to get the class to decide on one person or event they feel should be featured in the story and on the cover of the magazine. Share with them that they may have one person and event together on the cover. For example, Pocahontas and her interaction with the English or Angela and the arrival of the Angolans.

Step 5: Once the person or event has been determined, students may begin to create their own cover for the magazine. Students may sketch out their ideas, using magazines or texts for assistance. They may also use the Intranet to find graphics that would best depict their idea. Tell students their work will be judged based on historical accuracy, creativity of design, audience appeal, use of graphics to reflect the topic, and ability to understand what they are communicating. NOTE: Artistic ability should not be a deciding factor in determining how well students succeeded.Summary Activity: Display the students’ magazine covers on the bulletin board for all to see.

Lesson plans made possible by Archibald Andrews Marks.