Understanding the steps which led to the American Revolution is an essential component to any American history class. It is important for students to understand that there were many events which ultimately led to the colonists’ decision to revolt against England. With the current climate of economic insecurity, students have firsthand knowledge of how monetary issues can affect society.
One way to illustrate the steps to the Revolution is to have students trace one of their feet onto a piece of paper (be sure that you have an equal distribution of left and right feet, otherwise you’ll be hopping to the Revolution!). Assign each student a different act (for example, the Stamp Act, the Quartering Act, or the Sugar Act) to research. They should then list several facts on their paper foot. Post the footprints on the board or the wall in chronological order to help students develop an understanding of the timeline of events.
Another tried and true lesson which will help students gain an understanding of the American Revolution is to have them create a newspaper or newscast from the era. Students can serve as war correspondents from the battle lines, medical correspondents reporting on how wounded soldiers are being cared for, and analysts who present analysis of both the British and Colonial point of view.
Making historical events relevant to the modern world is always helpful when trying to impart students with a sense that history repeats itself. A discussion of the modern Tea Party Movement can be extremely relevant and timely when discussing the Boston Tea Party. Comparing and contrasting the motivation behind both tea parties can be a valuable exercise for students.
Reenacting the Boston Massacre is a perennial favorite activity for students. Of course, in lieu of throwing rocks and snowballs, balls of paper or koosh balls can be used to illustrate the chaos. Students will gain an understanding of how both sides believed that they were in the right, and why such confusion ensued. Here are a few more lesson plans which will enhance your student's knowledge of the American Revolution.
Steps to the American Revolution Lesson Plans:
Moving West and South
Students write letters to the editor from the perspective of either eighteenth century colonists or British loyalists expressing their feelings about the war. This lesson can be adapted to serve as a response to a particular event as well. This lesson can help students see both sides of the issue, and allows them to practice their persuasive writing skills.
What Was the American Revolution?
An excellent chance for students to analyze primary and secondary sources, this lesson guides students through founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Students also consider the challenges faced by the colonists in the face of British oppression. This lesson can be done either independently, in small groups or as a whole class.
Political Cartoons of the American Revolution
Students evaluate and analyze political cartoons from the American Revolution era. They develop an understanding of how this medium was used to incense the colonists and stir up support for their rebellion against the British. This lesson can also be used to compare and contrast political cartoons from the Revolutionary War era with contemporary political cartoons. Consider allowing students to create their own political cartoons about the Revolution as well.