One of my favorite units to study with my class has always been the American Revolution. I love the history of this time, and courage it took to break away from England. My passion is always caught by my students, but I still have to make sure that they all remain engaged. Here are some tips:
1. Stress the boldness of the Declaration of Independence – It’s difficult for students today to understand the true risk our founding fathers took by signing the Declaration of Independence. Make sure they understand that had America not won, each man who signed the declaration knew they would be hung. The declaration of independence was a declaration of war.
2. Incorporate Literature – To help students understand the mixed emotions of the time have them read a novel about the American Revolution while studying it in social studies. American literature is rich with wonderful novels that take place during the American Revolution. I use three novels at once (at three different reading levels) to make sure that all of my students truly benefit and feel as if they too are living in that period.
3. Incorporate Art and Drama – Nothing engages students like drama. Over the years I have had students use Reader’s Theater, or even write their own skits reenacting things like the Boston Tea Party. Students also love art projects, here is an eight scene summary my students created after reading “My Brother Sam is Dead”.
4. Incorporate Writing – Let your students know how important advertising was for building patriotism. Find some of the ads from the revolutionary period, and discuss them. Then have your students work in groups to create their own ads. I’ve even had students create brochures to recruit members for groups like the Sons of Liberty.
5. Incorporate Movies – At the end of my American Revolution unit my students and I watch a movie about it. There are so many to choose from – a fun modern dash through revolutionary history is Disney’s National Treasure (the original). I do have to explain to my students there is not really a National Treasure. They have fun writing down all the facts about American History they see in the movie, which we have learned about during our studies.
If you’d like to view my full American Revolution unit click here. Enjoy!