Friday, July 1, 2011

Revolutionary War Unit

French and Indian War Lesson

Note: The French and Indian War isn’t covered in the Core Knowledge Sequence for 1st grade but I think it’s worth touching on it given it acted as a precursor to the Revolutionary War.

I used online links to make a little story to hit the highlights of the war (copy and paste style). I included this image in my storybook to emphasize the reason for the British/French tensions over land.

An alternative that has less detail but hits the important points pretty well is to look at this set of slides. I found that link in the Lesson Pathways list of links and they have plenty of material for planning a longer lesson on this topic if you would like.

I used the idea in the above Lesson Pathways link to recreate the Fort Necessity fortress. This is the image I used in my story for this portion.

We colored maps of land claim before and after the Treaty of Paris.

Map of pre-war to color and Map of post-war.

Then we’ll put a $$$ sign in the middle to emphasize that costs, coming taxation, and how that indirectly resulted in the Revolutionary War.

We made books of our Revolutionary War studies and this was actually our first content page along with their summary about the outcome of the French and Indian War and increased tensions that resulted.

Note: I found this site with great information and videos of particular battles in Canadian history that I would use for older children. The battle reenactments would be too much for my young/senstive kids.

General Revolutionary War Introduction Lesson

For the Revolutionary War I will focus on the specific topics outlined in the Core Knowledge Sequence. We won’t cover every battle.

As mentioned in the last section, I believe it is most effective for my kids to make their own newspaper or book with the events we cover. For many we used a picture of the craft we did and their own words in summary.


I’m using books (if I find something great I’ll mention it), Liberty Kids video clips, the Dover Revolutionary War coloring book, and activities to delve into the selected events Core Knowledge emphasizes. Those are the highlight events. However, I want to give them an overview of the events as a whole and sort of fill in the blanks between in a general way. As I was looking for my own resources I found this “newspaper” that’s too old for my two but might be helpful as is for an older child.

We mapped the major events using this resource.

We'll begin with the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party using the resources above. My activity will be a modified version of a lesson highlighting the taxation without representation aspect of the tensions.

Specifically, we’ll watch this No More Kings video and then do something similar to this activity.

I hope to emphasize the causes as broader than the taxation point emphasizing the proclamation of 1763; taxes placed on sugar, paper, glass, tea, etc. without asking colonists; colonists forced to provide housing to soldiers without being asked; the Boston massacre; and the harbor blockade.

Boston Tea Party, 1773

Review yesterday’s material and then watch Boston Tea Party Liberty Kids video.

Note: This is a link to the first of two videos and we watched both parts.

The Complete Book of United States History has a little on the Tea Party as well as Revere’s Ride and the battles of Lexington and Concord.

Discuss and then act it out together to solidify what happened. Map it.

We’ll have a tea party and do the craft mentioned in this link though we’re going to add tea to construction paper water outside the ship. There is also a nice craft idea here.

As I mentioned we’ll take a picture (or draw if there is no item to picture) of the activity we did and then write up a summary to create our own book of this time period.

Paul Revere and Minutemen Lesson

To provide context I’ll highlight what has happened to this point including the “Intolerable Acts” and First Continental Congress specifically.

Liberty Kids video midnight ride. This is the link to part one of a two part video set on this topic.

Follow up using resources to reinforce the events (library book/I found some video clips) and map the events. The book And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? looks good but seemed a little to old for my age of children when I previewed in the library.

This book has some information about this ride as mentioned in the previous lesson. I didn’t find a perfect book for this that outlined how it really happened and worked well for my kids.

Note: this is a nice resource on Paul Revere and includes a sequence (click and pop up) of the ride. The whole site is nice and I’m including it because if you wanted to make a series of lessons on Paul Revere it would be a great resource I think. For this activity I’m using this interactive map instead.

Read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem Paul Revere’s Ride as outlined in these plans.

Note: This lesson was modified to be more accurate--I emphasized the roles of the other men (Dawes and Prescott) and how, because of the poem, we tend to remember Revere and not the others. I also emphasized that the riders likely spread the word that the “Regulars are coming” and certainly not the "British are coming" as they were all British!

Make a paper lantern and act out the Ride of Paul Revere. Instructions in this link.

A picture of us with our lanterns “calling out” and a little blurb they wrote about this event was added to our Revolutionary War books. One of mine has started making his own drawings of the events for the book as well.


Redcoats/Minutemen, 1775

This is a nice Map of battles.

We watched Liberty Kids Video--The Shot Heard Around the World (again, part 1 of a video in two parts).

We covered the Minutemen and Redcoats and the beginning of the Revolution (Battle of Lexington) in this lesson somewhat as outlined in these plans.

There are scores of free paper Revolutionary soldiers at this site. You’ll need to scroll down.

Pictures of a Minutemen and British Soldier.

Thomas Jefferson Lesson

We’ll be reading the book A Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson. This book has highlights from his entire life really and I liked it for this age.

Possible video alternative for Jefferson information if a book can’t be found in your library system. However, it’s just facts and pictures and I don’t think ideal. Certainly preview before using.

I’m covering (briefly) John Adams as well though if I had it to do again I would go ahead and talk about the White House along with Adams. I’m also using Yo, Millard Fillmore! to attempt to learn the presidents as we go through each president in history. I also used the Dover Presidents coloring book. There are also coloring pages here and here and even a presidents lapbook that could be used.

Declaration of Independence Lesson

I’ll cover the context and events preceding the Declaration of Independence using my own words. Specifically I'll highlight the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga, George Washington takes command and eventually the British withdraw from New York.

We’ll read the Founding Fathers—East chapter in The American Story.

Then we’ll watch this Liberty’s Kids video and reinforce events. (link to part 1 of two parts)

I thought I might use parts of Will You Sign Here John Hancock but my interlibrary loan timing was off and it wasn’t great for our age anyway in my opinion so I didn’t try it. It does look like a good book.

We’ll view the Declaration of Independence and there are lots of images are available with a google image search. I’m not going to link because the links sometimes go dead. I will note Hancock’s signature—extra large so the King of England would have no problem reading it and also emphasize Thomas Jefferson’s role.

We’ll talk about the idiom “put your John Hancock here” and sign ourselves.

I’ll emphasize this was the first fourth of July with a craft. There are tons of craft ideas out there for this. Here is one and another with several printable paper crafts.

We added this event to our book of the revolution (Declaration of Independence picture, little blurb they wrote about it, and the first Fourth of July craft picture).

Benjamin Franklin and Electricity (Science) Lessons

Goal: Identify Benjamin Franklin as a patriot, inventor and writer.

I may show this video about him. (note: this is one of two parts, I show both) This is a Liberty Kid’s video so focuses on Franklin as a patriot.

We’re reading the Go Fly a Kite chapter in The American Story. This emphasizes his role as an inventor. I’m sure there are other books and online resources to make the same points but this one is interesting to read.

We might make a kite using plans here or here.

We’ll do the Ben Franklin lessons much as outlined here. They have some nice ideas including working with static electricity.

I also started a science unit on electricity at this point and we’re using Snap Circuits (so fun and easy for the teacher too)! There are free Core Knowledge lesson plans including science experiments with electricity as well linked above.

I spent more than one day on these lessons—focusing on patriot and writing (using the core knowledge stuff linked above) and then some inventor/electricity lessons.

Crossing the Delaware/Battle of Trenton Lesson

Again, we’ll cover events leading up to the Battle of Trenton using my own summary and we’ll map the events as we go. Specifically I’ll touch on the Battle of Long Island and surrender of Fort Washington. We’ll talk about Benjamin Franklin sailing for France and hopefully emphasize that the revolution might fail.

We watched the Liberty's Kids Across the Delaware Video--part 1 of a 2 parts.
This is the Battle of Trenton but it does mention Concord as well at the end of part 2.

We could make and eat hardtack (recipe page 5) and talk about the hardships the soldiers were facing. However, I scheduled hardtack for a Civil War lesson so we’re going to step in ice water and do a little simulation instead in the kitchen.

I used Scholastic Interactive 3-D Maps: American History for this lesson. It has an interactive map for crossing the Delaware and the Trenton and Concord battles.

Here is a coloring page if needed.

We added this to our book of the Revolution. One son drew pictures and the other used a picture of the 3-D map he made and his summary.

Saratoga Battle and Deborah Samson Lesson

Lots of video today and not a lot of activity. I might have just given a little context and then emphasized Samson and a short summary today with a coloring page if I were doing this again. I’m not sure.

I did the Battle of Saratoga because it seemed important in context and I wanted to emphasize the Hessians/Germany role.

Video: The Hessians are Coming, 1777 Battle of Saratoga (again, two parts)

We added this to our maps and I tried to emphasize with the map that many battles and years passed. We also touched on Benedict Arnold and the concept of treason.

Deborah Samson
Video--Soldier of the Revolution (two parts)

I made a coloring page from this site.

Again, I might do this differently if I were doing it again.

The American Revolution - Final Events Lesson

We’ll briefly review and cover the intervening events using resources as we have in the past.

I felt we should cover the Battle of Yorktown. I used this Yorktown video and have linked the first of two parts.

Noted: Benjamin Franklin and John Adams sign the peace treaty with England, ending the Revolutionary War (November 30, 1783).

Music: We did Yankee Doodle Dandee—emphasizing the core knowledge objective of moving to music mostly as well as the role music played in the Revolutionary War. Here is Music of the Revolutionary War.

We watched a Liberty Kids video about the Constitution called We the People (two parts--linked first).

The book Shh! We're Writing the Constitution would probably be good.

I planned to discuss/emphasize the need for a law of the land and the idea that they didn’t agree made it hard work.

We’ll watch this video: the Preamble, Schoolhouse Rock and do coloring page (Scroll down) of We the People emphasizing the colonies had to come together and make this agreement as a group. This page is what went into our Revolution Book along with our completed map of the major battles.

Do “signing the constitution” type activity with Quill pen I think using this really thorough quill pen lesson.

You could note that James Madison wrote the Constitution and is called the Father of the Constitution. He is also our fourth President. Here is a James Madison finger puppet idea.

Here are some video clips that might work if you want to delve deeper into the structure of our government or the Bill of Rights. I didn’t use these but they are worth mentioning for use along with the link above.

Video--It’s semi-catchy anyway!

Branches of Government video that might be used with the coloring pages here.


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