March 13, 2008

If You Lived in the time of the American Revolution

So far I think this was my favorite of the classes in this series. Perhaps it is because we are in the middle of the American Revolution here at home but it was a fun class I think the kids enjoyed. I decided to make the focus of the class walking the students through the history that led the Patriots to rebel against the British in a fairly interesting and interactive way. We used candy to make it most interesting to them.

For the main talk time everyone gathered in a circle on the floor and was given a napkin full of skittles. We had someone be King George, someone be the tax collector and someone be parliament. In the future I would skip the parliament as it made it too complicated. We walked through all the laws and rules passed by the British and took candy from the kids to represent their losses in money/supplies/freedoms. I went through each of the following, briefly explaining it and then having the tax collector take away candy to represent it. For example we took half their candy during the currency act to represent loss of half of money value. For the intolerable acts we "taxed" them for glasses, clothing, shoes, etc) I also handed the following out as a printout the kids added to their books as a reminder of the lesson and overview of the causes of the American Revolution. This is a simplified list that was useful for our class, it is not detailed and comprehensive however.

Causes of American Revolution

French-Indian War
colonists help England fight and win
England decided to tax colonies to increase money and
lower expenses by closing the frontier

The Sugar Act 1764
tax for all sugar, used patrols to enforce

The Currency Act 1764
made colonial scrip (money) illegal
reduced value by half

The Quartering Act 1765
provide barracks and supplies to
house or quarter British troops

The Stamp Act 1765

required government stamps for all official papers
stamp masters tarred and feathered by patriots

Repeal of Stamp Act 1766
Parliament repealed under pressure
America's first victory

The Townshend Acts 1767

taxes on imported goods such as
glass, tea, coffee, paper, paint

Writs of Assistance 1767
search any home or business
encouraged neighbors to "tattle" on one another

Colonial Legislatures Dissolved 1767

Massachusetts assembly dissolved by Parliament
due to resistance and encouraging others to resist
-dissolved MD SC and GA as well

The Boston Massacre 1770
shots fired into a crowd of civilians
5 people dead - led to outrage

Townshend Acts and Quartering Act Repealed 1770
all repealed by British prime minister
except tax on tea

The Tea Act 1773

decreased British East India tea essentially
creating a tea monopoly for Britain along with tea tax

The Boston Tea Party 12/16/1773
colonists disguised as Indians boarded tea ships in
Boston Harbor and dumped 10,000 pounds of British tea

The Intolerable Acts 1774
Boston ports closed until lost tea costs paid
Changed and controlled local government structure
New worse quartering act - troops stationed in homes against will

First Continental Congress 1774

colonial delegates meet in Philadelphia to decide on common action
wrote a petition to King George III asking him to intervene
rejected Parliament but said loyal to king
Patriot/Loyalist break

Lexington and Concord Battles 1775

The war begins

Some Famous Americans of the Time

George Washington
Patrick Henry
Thomas Jefferson
Samuel Adams
Abigail Adams
John Adams
Paul Revere
Ethan Allen
Benjamin Franklin
John Hancock

While this list seems really long it moved quickly and had an impact. I think the kids really felt injustice at losing something they valued. We left everyone with somewhere between 2-5 skittles and allowed them to eat them saving the rest for later for a review activity.

Then we broke the kids into small groups and moved them through a few stations.

Spy and Secret Messages

1. Invisible Messages: They got to try their hand at using invisible ink to write messages. Use one of the following mixtures to make your own Invisible Ink:

* lemon, grapefruit or orange juice
* milk
* sugar or salt water (teaspoon in a cup of water)
* white vinegar

Use any kind of heavy white writing paper, paper with lines is best kind. Dip a clean pen (not a ball-point) or any instrument with a smooth point, like a toothpick, into the ink. As you write the words will disappear, so hold your finger at the end of the last word to mark your place. When its dry, hold the paper over a bright electric light or a heated pop-up toaster.

2. Book Cifer Code: Think National Treasure, most of the kids understood it from that reference. Pick one page from your favorite book, make sure it has a lot of words on it! Assign numbers to the words on the page to make your own Secret Code. Use the words to compose a message to decode. We had a teacher create the message and they deciphered it.

3. Rebus game

These were all available at the one station for the kids to try. You would not likely need all.

Almanac Making Station

Tying it to the almanac of the day we had each student make their own book to keep records of the class in. Using crumpled paper bags, white hole punched paper and leather straps the kids made books designed to look old fashioned but fairly low budget. They wound the piece of leather through the holes in the paper and bag and then wrote If you Lived on the front and their names inside. We had enough pages for each week we did to have several sheets for them to fill. They pasted in the work from the previous week (knights) and this week - the outline of causes and spy games.

Food, Discussion and Artifacts

The last station is a catch all station - they get to eat their food - this week was tea and shortbread type cakes. While they are eating I show them pictures from various books the DK Publishing time period books work really well. We also had a tricorn hat from the time period for them to look at. I had set up a water harmonica but we could not make it work. This is the wine goblets with water filled at different levels. After persistence one of the students figured it out and it does sound beautiful if you can figure it out. We had some of our glasses filled too high.

At the end we brought them to review the American Revolution causes. To keep them interested we used candy. I went through my long list above reminding them even if the names sounded strange they could likely figure it out from our experiences before. I rewarded right answers with candy. That was a hit and served as a nice review.

I am always amazed when I type this all out how much we do in the span of a single hour. It is really because we have several teachers there is no way to do all this at one time with one teacher. But maybe divided over a few days you can get it in. I never expect them to have depth just a basic taste and overview of the time period we are learning.

I love teaching history this way because it really seems to bring it alive to kids. They suddenly find history fun and interesting and hopefully some of the details will sink in because they learned them not just by dates but through experience. I know my own kids do really well with this format.

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