HomeLesson PlansNorth Carolina History Lesson Plans from the Southern Appalachian ArchivesNorth Carolina Era 2 – Colonial 1600 - 1763: Migration Push/Pull Lesson

North Carolina Era 2 – Colonial 1600 - 1763: Migration Push/Pull Lesson

Migration Push/Pull Lesson

LESSON: Migration Push/Pull
UNIT: North Carolina Era 2 – Colonial 1600 - 1763

LEARNING TARGET: “I can list three push and three pull factors that led to migration during the colonial period.”

Time needed: 20 minutes



  1. Ask students to imagine that they are moving from one town to another. What might be some reasons they would leave their present town? What might be some reasons they would want to go to a different town? 
  2. Explain that these reasons are similar to those that have encouraged people to migrate throughout history. These are called “push and pull” factors; reasons that “push” people from one place and reasons that “pull” people to another.
  3. Explain that students will be examining several primary and secondary sources to find push and pull factors that influenced early settlers to the America and the North Carolina colony. 
  4. Put students into groups and ask the recorder of each group to get out a piece of notebook paper and label “Push factors” on one side and “Pull factors” on the other.
  5. Have the groups read the primary and secondary sources concerning migration. As the students read these pages, they should talk about and list the factors that would cause people to want to leave Europe or northern colonies (push factors) and those that would cause them to want to go to America or further south in the colonies (pull factors). 
  6. While the groups are working on their lists, tape chart paper you have prepared in the front of the room or write a chart on a board.
  7. After the groups have read the sources and generated their own list, have the class come back together to share group ideas. 
  8. Write the factors on the chart paper or board as the groups share their lists. For this activity, accept all appropriate answers. 
  9. Discuss with the students the importance of these factors in the early settlement of the English colonies. Explain that while push/pull factors may change during different ages and in different situations, they are important to think about as the class continues its study of history.


This activity will be assessed by observing the groups working. Students should all take part in talking about the push/pull factors. The whole class should generate a complete list of the appropriate push/pull factors.

Optional activity (from a lesson written by Pauline Johnson for Learn NC Digital History Book)

  1. Ask the students to get back into their groups.
  2. Assign each of the groups one of the following categories: social factors, economic factors, and political factors. You may need to go over a working definition for the class for each of these categories (social factors involve individuals, families, religion, lifestyles; economic factors include those that have to do with money, jobs, goods and services; political factors encompass governments, laws, empowerment of individuals in making rules.)
  3. Have the groups list the factors from the class push/pull list that fit into their category.
  4. As a whole class ask the groups to share their evaluations. (Note: some of the push/pull factors may fit into more than one category.)
  5. These evaluations should lead to a discussion of the factors and the categories. Students should defend their placement of the factors into a category, but ultimately should recognize that some factors will overlap or share categories. This discussion will engage the students in higher levels of thinking.


Mars Hill University Special Collections provided the primary and secondary sources for this activity.

Encyclopedia Virginia: a publication of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
background on William Byrd.

NC Pedia
background on Bishop Augustus Spangenberg

NC Pedia
background on Dr. John Brickell and his writing

NC Pedia
background on George Burrington

Copies of the primary and secondary sources needed for this lesson can be found here:
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources