The American Revolutionary War was a pivotal time in U.S. history as the result of that war defined the nation. This is a topic studied by students at all levels of education. Homeschooled students often have the flexibility to study this war more extensively, and there are numerous sources parents and teachers can access to assist the students in learning about this time in history and even enjoy learning about the Revolutionary War!
This lesson plan is geared for elementary students in grade 3 to grade 6 and can be modified as needed to reach slower students and motivate academically gifted students.
Begin this unit by watching an episode or two of the PBS TV series “Liberty’s Kids”. This series no longer airs on many PBS stations, but the entire series can be purchased on Amazon.com or if you prefer free, most episodes are on YouTube. Good episodes to start with are “Boston Tea Party”, The Intolerable Acts” and “United We Stand”. Throughout the unit you can use episodes of “Liberty’s Kids” to make this history come alive to your students.
Required reading for this unit is the book “My Brother Sam is Dead” by James Collier. This book follows a boy living in a Tory family whose older brother has decided to join the American army. Students will learn how families lived during this time period and of the losses families suffered during the war for independence.
A great activity students can do is to make a skit about part of the war. A simple skit can be done with as little as three students, and a classroom could do a longer production if desired. Homeschool families with few children could invite their children’s friends to participate. A few skit ideas: Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, Paul Revere’s poem, a mock trial of Benedict Arnold.
Have students create a “character biography” of a major player in the Revolutionary War. The biography should include details such as: place and date of birth, childhood, and achievements during the war, significance of this person in history, fun facts or trivia. This biography can be presented as a written report, oral report with visual aids, or PowerPoint presentation.
Help students learn vocabulary words by providing crossword puzzles, word searches, and using them as weekly spelling words. Homeschool and traditional teachers can use online resources to create the crosswords and word searches for free. Another fun activity is to have students create a “vocabulary cartoon”. Some great examples of this can be found at: http://www.beavton.k12.or.us/jacob_wismer/leahy/revolution/cartoons/index.htm
The following resources (mostly free) are great for homeschool families doing this unit:
Liberty’s Kids- This website has short video clips, games, coloring pages, word search, and other activities to reinforce what is learned in the Liberty’s Kids episodes.
The American Revolution- This school website provides lessons, activities, and quizzes to learn about the war from start to finish.
The Flames of Revolution- This is a free downloadable game that is a strategy/war game playable by two users. Players chose either the British or Colonists side and the goal is to take control of all 13 colonies.
BrainPop- Here you will find several short, fun videos about different aspects of the Revolutionary War. A free week trial is available and you can sign up for unlimited access for only $9.95 a month.
Mrs. Huber’s Class- Mrs. Huber has great information on her website, including slides of important war events.
Mr. Donn- Mr. Donn has a number of excellent resources for both teachers and students. I’ve never met him, but he’s one of my favorite teachers!
OpenUW Course- The University of Washington Open Source website includes a class on the American Revolution. This is great for more advanced students. After each chapter there is a quiz.