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Join the Revolution! American Revolution Lesson Plans and Activities

Invite your students to follow the progress of the American Revolution -- from that first battle to the final surrender -- by participating in some Revolutionary War activities. Included: A dozen activities to help students re-create the activities and events of the Revolutionary period.

On April 19, 1775, the battle of Lexington and Concord was fought. Your students can relive that unusual battle and follow the progress of the entire war -- from that first day to the British surrender at Yorktown -- by participating in some of the Revolutionary War activities below.

 

For more lesson ideas, be sure to see Education World's Fourth of July Holiday page.

CREATE A TIMELINE

Provide students or small groups with a list of some important events that occurred, using America During the Age of Revolution as a source. Ask each student or group to locate one age-appropriate Web site for each event. Have students create chronological lists, then a timeline. Place Internet resources (including the site names and URLs) on the timeline. If you have a class Web page, create the timeline there and link each date to the appropriate Web site. Younger students can work in small groups, with each group locating a site for one event. Combine the sites into a hotlist and post it on the class Web page.

WRITE A SECRET LETTER

During the Revolutionary War, British and colonial soldiers frequently intercepted enemy mail, so the combatants used various ways of disguising messages that traveled across enemy lines. Invite students to investigate some of those methods at Spy Letters of the American Revolution. Then help students write secret messages with invisible ink. Here's how:

  • Mix 4 teaspoons of water with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
  • Stir until smooth.
  • Heat and stir over a hotplate for several minutes.
  • Dip a toothpick into the mixture and write a message on a piece of paper.
  • Let the paper dry.
  • Dip a sponge into a solution of 1 teaspoon of iodine and 10 teaspoons of water.
  • Carefully wipe the paper with the sponge. The message should turn purple.

A REVOLUTIONARY WAR WEBQUEST

Invite students to explore information in A Revolutionary WebQuest. Then have them complete the "The Road to Independence" simulation, in which they act as commanders in the Continental Army. As commanders, students must purchase troops and supplies and use them to conquer five fictional cities.

PEOPLE OF THE REVOLUTION

Arrange students into small groups and provide each group with a name from Famous Men in the Revolutionary War or Amazing Women in War and Peace. Ask each group to research the life and loyalties of the assigned individual and then present to the class a short skit showing what that person might have said during a debate on the causes of the war.

CREATE A REBUS PUZZLE

Writing letters in which pictures were substituted for words was a popular activity during the Revolutionary War years. Invite students to solve the rebus puzzles at Rebus Game. Then ask each student to create a rebus puzzle and challenge a classmate to decipher it.

THE 'SHOT HEARD 'ROUND THE WORLD'

Ask students to read song The Shot Heard Round the World. (Listen to the song if you access to the School House Rock series.) Then have them answer the following questions: What was the "shot heard 'round the world"? Where was it fired? Was it really heard "around the world"? Why is it important? Older students might enjoy comparing this song to Loyalist, British Songs and Poetry of the American Revolution.

KNOW YOUR REVOLUTIONARY ABC'S

Assign each child a letter of the alphabet and have students create an ABC Book of the American Revolution.

 

Home Activities

FAMILY CONNECTION: A SECRET MESSAGE

Provide each student with a copy of the explanation and directions for creating a mask letter from Spy Letters of the American Revolution. Ask each student to work with his or her family to create a brief secret message about what freedom means to them. Have students bring their messages to class -- along with the mask they used. Display the messages and masks on a classroom bulletin board, with a number next to each message. Challenge students to decode the messages, and award a small prize to the student who correctly decodes the most messages.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Explain to students that during the Revolutionary War, the pineapple -- a symbol of welcome -- was often displayed at the doors of colonial homes. Discuss what symbols are, and then ask students to explore Revolutionary War sites to find additional symbols of the -- including such objects as flags or events such as the Boston Tea Party. Have each student draw a picture of one of the symbols and write a short explanation of what it symbolized.

 

WAR IS A CHARADE

Provide older students with quotations from the Revolutionary War, including the following:

  • "Enlighten people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."
  • "Give me liberty or give me death."
  • "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
  • "No taxation without representation."
  • "There never was a good war or a bad peace."

  • See more quotations on the American Revolutionary War Quotes. Then have students take turns acting out one of the quotes from the list as their classmates try to interpret the charade.

     

     

     

     

    A REVOLUTIONARY QUIZ

    Wrap up your study of the Revolutionary War with an interactive Revolutionary War Quiz. You can also use the tool at the site to create a quiz of your own.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    Archiving Early America
    Archiving Early America provides historical information and texts of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution.

    Paul Revere's Ride
    The Paul Revere House provides the complete text of the famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

    Military Science Worchester Polytechnic Institute
    This site provides information about the causes, events, and aftermath of the battles of Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, Saratoga, and Monmouth.

    Revolutionary War Web Sites for Kids
    This hotlist was created by a California teacher. It has links to a number of sites containing biographies of individuals connected with the Revolutionary War.

    A Hypertext on American History
    This hypertext, compiled from a number of sources, includes links to documents, essays, and other sites about American history from the colonial period to the present day.

     

     

    Article by Linda Starr
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2007 Education World

     

    Originally published 04/24/2000
    Links updated 06/01/2011

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