Defining us: The American Experience

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Defining US: The American Experience

FCPS Teaching American History Grant

Short Extended

1st draft _____ _____

revision _____ _____


Subject: Revolutionary War Grade: 6

Prepared by: Julie Roe School: Great Falls Elementary

Title: Bossy Britain Upsets Colonists

Instructional Time: five class periods

  1. Essential Learning: Students will examine the causes of dissatisfaction that led to the American Revolution

2. Virginia Standards of Learning:

USI.1 The student will develop skills for historical and geographical analysis, including the ability to:

  1. identify and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of events and life in United States history to 1877;

  2. interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives;

  3. evaluate and discuss issues orally and in writing;

USI.6 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes and results of the American Revolution by:

a. identifying the issues of dissatisfaction that led to the American Revolution;

d. describing key events

3. Fairfax County Program of Studies:

Benchmark 6.1.1: Students acquire historical knowledge and understanding of the growth of the United States as a nation, from the Age of Exploration through Reconstruction

Benchmark 6.9.1: Students analyze different perspectives on significant issues in American history

National History Standard

Historical Comprehension: Students will learn the causes of dissatisfaction leading to the American Revolution as the daily lessons are presented to them.

Formulate questions to focus inquiry or analysis: Students will be asked questions which will help them to understand events, pictures, or ideas.

Compare and contrast sets of ideas, values, etc: Students will use Venn diagrams, cause and effect charts, and sequence charts to separate ideas.

Use visual data from photographs , paintings, cartoons, and architectural drawings: Students will look at cartoons and an engraving to gather info.

  1. Learning Strategy(s) Objectives:

Tell What You Know (Activate Prior Knowledge): at the beginning of each lesson

Make Inferences: use skills to examine cartoons and other primary sources

Summarize: encapsulate the lesson in the step book of events

Use/Create Graphic Organizers: on each WOW page and to organize info

Take notes: to gather and arrange info

  1. Connection to TAH grant:

Students will focus on the road leading to the American Revolutionary War.


  1. Assessment:

Located at the end of each lesson.

  1. Instructional Strategies:

Lessons are set up for five days on the following pages.
Road to War
Please note…

I use interactive notebooks as many FCPS teachers are doing at this time. As one looks at an open notebook, the top of the left page is the Review and Practice (RAP) page where we activate prior knowledge and do a warm-up activity. The right page is the Words of Wisdom (WOW) page where students take notes and/or gather information. The bottom of the left page is the Challenge section where students do some type of processing activity. However, I like to switch up our notebooks to keep them interesting, so in these lessons the students will be using both pages of their notebook to record information. A horizontal two-inch wide (about 3 lines) “road to war” will be drawn across both pages about halfway down the pages for all of the lessons. This will be a timeline that will include the date and title of each act or event. When I describe the activities in the lessons I will refer to sections 1 – 4. Each page consists of two sections and since the notebooks are open, we have four sections to use. All pictures will be colored using colored pencils.

Day 1

To begin, students will use their next blank page to make a Flap Vocabulary Book. Use a left page and fold that page to the spiral binding in the middle. Make a crease on the fold. Then mark off this top folded section in one-inch intervals so there are eleven sections. Each of these segments is where students will write a vocab word. Open up the folded page and have students do the same thing to the other half of the page. This bottom section is where students will write the definitions of the vocab words. Once this is completed students need to carefully cut the top page on the lines that were drawn, so that segments turn into flaps that can be lifted to see the vocab definitions. It is important to cut the lines only to the fold. Words will be added to this “flap book” as they are introduced. They may also be written in the margin at the top of each section for extra practice.

On the opposite right page students will glue on a map of the thirteen colonies and make a title page called “Road to War.”


Students will set up their notebooks and learn about the following:

Proclamation Act of 1763

Sugar Act 1764

Stamp Act 1765

Colonial mindset of this time


Pictures of stamps from the Stamp Act

Vocabulary (record in Vocab Flap Book as introduced)

revenue (income)

taxes (money paid to the government on goods purchased)

boycott (refuse to buy)

Preview on RAP

Students will complete this activity on the top margin of the RAP page.

Imagine that you have a younger sibling who will not stay out of your bedroom. Draw a mini sketch that shows what could you do to keep them out.

Share your drawing with your partner.

I like to teach social studies in stories, so as I tell the story of this event, I will model the activities and the students will draw them in their notebooks:

Quickly review the outcome of the French and Indian War. As a result of the French and Indian War, Britain gained land but had huge debts. The Proclamation of 1763 was Britain’s attempt to keep colonists out of this land west of the Appalachian Mountains and keep peace with the Native Americans. Connect this to their RAP drawings.
In section 1:

  1. Write “Proclamation of 1763” on the road.

  2. Draw a small mountain above the road and label Appalachian Mountains.

  3. On the western side draw Native Americans with happy faces and British redcoats with serious faces.

  4. Draw King George on the top of the mountain with a huge red stop sign in his hand facing the colonies. Write “Keep Out” on the stop sign.

  5. Draw the colonists on the eastern side with grumpy faces. A speech bubble might say, “It’s not fair. We want that land.”

Any other info to be included should be written under the road. This might include that Britain needed to support soldiers, forts, and protection for the colonists and this cost money, on top of the debts that Britain already had from the French and Indian War.

Encourage students to think of possible sources of income for Britain. Connect this to how do students get money when they need it (perhaps parents). How does our government get money (citizens and taxes)? How could Britain get money or revenue to pay its war debts?

Back in Britain Parliament created the Sugar Act in 1764 to tax the colonists on purchases of molasses and sugar. It affected some merchants in New England who bought molasses, but there was little concern/little effect on most colonists. This act also allowed customs officials to conduct searches of the colonists’ homes and businesses at any time, which the colonists did not like.

In section 2:

  1. Write 1764 and Sugar Act on the road.

  2. Draw a medium sugar bowl with the $ symbol all over it.

  3. In the margin at the top students write “revenue” and “tax” so they will know to look back in their flap books for the definitions.

  4. Draw a colonist saying, “I’m not going to pay this tax.”

Other info: because Britain was 3000 miles away the independent-thinking colonists were not too worried about this tax.

Since many colonists did not pay this tax, it was ineffective. Britain did not earn much money to pay off its war debts and the colonists were not doing what their mother country told them to do, so Britain had to come up with a new plan.
In 1765 this new plan was called the Stamp Act. Now this tax would affect most of the colonists. They had to pay a tax on all paper products, including legal documents, newspapers, books, and even playing cards.
In Section 3:

  1. Write 1765 and Stamp Act on the road.

  2. Glue on the three stamps from back then.

  3. Students may create some on their own stamps with the taxed products on them as well in this section.

Complaints and grumblings could be heard. Colonists began to question why they should have to pay this tax. The colonists felt that since they were not represented in Parliament, they should not be taxed. A cry of

“No taxation without representation”

began to spread. Colonists believed that only their local, elected legislatures should be allowed to tax them and so they boycotted British goods.

In Section 4:

  1. Students draw the unhappy colonists holding a large sign high in the air that states, “No taxation without representation!”

  2. Colonists will also be saying, “Let’s boycott British products. We can do without them.”


Students should wrap-up the lesson by working with their partner. They will both label the Appalachian Mountains on their map and then take turns and explain one of sections in the order they happened. Give them 30 seconds per section. Each student will explain two sections. I will walk around and listen as they do this activity, and help anyone who is confused.


ESOL and special need students may draw pictures of the vocabulary words and other activities that require writing.

GT students could create a “keep out” song about the Proclamation of 1763 from the viewpoint of the king or the Native Americans.


Pictures of the actual stamps used
A teapot used by the colonists showing their resistance to the Stamp Act

Interesting visual teaching/tchcrsta.cfm

map of original 13 colonies

Day 2

Objectives: Students will learn about the following:

Sons of Liberty 1765

Repeal of the Stamp Act 1766

Townshend Acts 1767

Boston Massacre 1770


Overhead of the cartoon of the repeal of the Stamp Act

Overhead of the Boston Massacre

Picture book: Can’t You Get Them to Behave, King George?

Vocabulary (record in Vocab Flap Book as introduced)

repeal (to do away with)

quarter (to provide shelter)

massacre (the act of killing helpless people)

propaganda (spread ideas to further a cause)

Preview on RAP

Have students draw a “skull and crossbones” stamp in the margin of their RAP page. They should write 1-2 sentences that explain why the British might not like this particular stamp, but why the colonists might. Share.


Reminder…have students draw the “road to war” along both pages.

Recap yesterday’s lesson: Britain was in debt due to the French and Indian War and wanted to tax the colonists in a variety of ways to help pay the bill.

The colonists resisted these taxes by boycotting British goods.
And so the story continues. As resentment began to build in the colonies, the colonists formed “Sons of Liberty” groups where they gathered to voice their complaints. These groups met in common areas in their communities, and the liberty tree moniker emerged. These attitudes reflect a change in the thinking about their mother country.
In Section 1:

  1. Write Sons of Liberty 1765 on the road to war.

  2. Draw a Liberty Tree and on the branches write some of the freedoms that the colonists thought were important. Ex. freedom of religion

  3. Draw some unhappy colonists and speech bubbles to voice their thoughts.

The colonists were not the only unhappy campers. Merchants in Britain also complained about the boycott, so Britain repealed the Stamp Act. Show the cartoon of the Stamp Act Funeral. Look at the individual people in the picture and discuss who they are. Notice details such as their expressions, hair, and robes. Look at the items, including the coffin, the warehouses, and the ships. What is the setting? Who do you think created the cartoon? Have several students assume the positions of the characters and carry on their conversations about the pesky colonists. Now switch students and present the same info, but from a colonial point-of-view and then compare how they are the same and different.

In Section 1:

  1. Make a small tombstone for the Stamp Act to the right of the Liberty Tree. Show an unhappy king on its left and a happy colonist on its right.

Britain continued to need money to pay its debts, and so Parliament created the Townshend Acts in 1767. These acts taxed the colonists on imported goods such as glass, paper, tea, lead, and paint. Some of the revenue went to pay royal governors of the colonies who were loyal to King George.

In Section 2:

  1. Write Townshend Acts 1767 on the road.

  2. Draw the king standing beside these goods with his hand reaching towards a colonist.

  3. The king’s happy face might say, “What a clever way to get money,” while the unhappy colonists might say, “This is unfair. Britain has to stop taxing us.”

Other info to write underneath the road: Sam Adams and John Adams from Massachusetts, and Patrick Henry from Virginia, gained attention as they keep “stirring the pot” about these latest taxes.

Because of the continued colonial protests and boycott, Britain quartered more soldiers in Boston and dismissed some colonial legislatures. Tensions rose steadily as colonists began to divide their loyalties between Britain and the colonies.
In Section 3:

  1. Draw a house big enough to hold two people, and on the roof draw a quarter to remember the vocab word.

  2. On the left side draw a “Redcoat” British soldier saying, “The king said that I can stay in your house, so move out of my way!”

  3. On the other side of the doorway draw a colonist with a sad face saying. “I hate this! It’s not fair.”

1770. Tensions came to a head in Boston on March 5. Colonists taunted several British soldiers, someone threw a snowball at them, and suddenly soldiers fired upon the crowd. When the smoke cleared, five colonists were dead.

Display the overhead of the Boston Massacre. Initiate questions such as:

Who is in the picture? How is color used? Analyze the body language of the soldiers and the colonists. What has happened? Based on what you know about a massacre, does this seem like a massacre? Why or why not? Who do you suppose made this picture and why did they make it? Tell me a “cause and effect” observation about this picture.

Introduce the term propaganda. Sam Adams played a key role when he kept fanning the flames of resistance with his idea of a massacre. Paul Revere created this engraving to excite and whip up anti-British sentiments.
In Section 4:

  1. Write Boston Massacre 1770 on the road.

  2. Glue on a small copy of the massacre picture. Write a headline above the picture that would incite the colonists. Include the ideas that ties between Britain and the colonies were becoming weaker and loyalties were changing. Thoughts of independence grew stronger for many, but not all, of the colonists.

Parliament repealed the Townshend Acts on all products except tea, on the same day as the Boston Massacre, which helped tensions to die down.


Add Boston to the map of 13 colonies on the front page of this section.

Read selected pages of the picture book: Can’t You Get Them to Behave, King George?

Before reading this book aloud ask students to listen for certain things. They should pay particular attention to the troubles King George has with the colonists. Students should raise their hand if he’s acting like a good king and snap their fingers if he’s acting as a poor king as I read. After reading discuss those ideas. Note responses.


ESOL and special need students may draw pictures and have a peer help them take notes.

GT students could continue the conversations of the British lords as they sadly carry the coffin of the Stamp Act.


Picture book: Can’t You Get Them to Behave, King George?

By Jean Fritz ISBN 0-698-11402-7

This is the story of King George’s life, from his mom telling him to act like a king to the pesky colonists and the problems they cause.
Boston Massacre engraving

The bloody massacre perpetrated in King Street, Boston on March Revere, 1770. Engraving By Paul Revere, 1770.
Reproduction number: LC-USZC4-4600

Repeal of Stamp Act

The repeal--or the funeral procession of Miss Americ-Stamp. (Cartoon). Engraving, 1766.
Reproduction number: LC-USZ62-1505

Day 3

Objectives: Students will learn about the following:

Committees of Correspondence 1772

Tea Act 1773

Boston Tea Party 1773

Preview on RAP

Draw a mini liberty tree of values that you personally think are important. Share with a partner.


monopoly (complete control)

correspondence (form of communication)

intolerable (unbearable)


Overhead of Boston Tea Party

Reader’s Theater: The Boston Tea Party


Reminder…have students draw the “road to war” along both pages.

Recap the results of the Boston Massacre. Ask students to describe ways that the colonists’ mindset has changed from the end of the French and Indian War through the Boston Massacre. Predict what King George and Parliament have in store for the colonists.

And so the story continues… Tensions calmed down after the Boston Massacre as Britain repealed all of the taxes except for tea. Sam Adams helped to organize Committees of Correspondence so colonies could communicate with each other about British actions. It’s important for students to understand that the colonies were not united at that time; there was no US government. The colonial legislatures could do as they wanted.
Two years later Britain decided to create the Tea Act, which tried to force colonists to buy tea only from the British East India Tea Company. This was a monopoly on the tea trade. Alarm bells went off for the Committees of Correspondence when news reached the colonists of this latest tax. Colonists once again set up a boycott. Many British ships had to return to Britain while still loaded with tea and other goods. Britain grew very frustrated with those pesky colonists.
In Section 1:

  1. Write Committees of Correspondence 1773 and Tea Act 1773 on the road.

  2. Sketch letters to the 13 various colonies with semi-serious faces on the colonists saying. “No!” to the Tea Act.

  3. Draw a ship with lots of crates at a dock. The angry colonists say, “Go back to Britain. We don’t want your tea!”

In Massachusetts the royal governor decided that the ships in the Boston Harbor would not leave until they were unloaded. The colonists decided to follow the governor’s orders and they unloaded the tea. Unfortunately it was not quite what the governor had planned.

On December 16, 1773, a group of colonists decided to dress as Mohawk Indians and unload the tea—into the harbor. This became known as the Boston Tea Party. Look at the overhead of the Boston Tea Party. Describe the actions, the reasons for the spectators, and the purpose of this nocturnal event. More than 300 boxes of tea were destroyed, but the damage did not end there.

In Section 2 and3:

  1. Write Boston Tea Party 1773 on the road.

  2. Draw a large teapot with King George’s crown as the lid.

  3. List reasons on the teapot for the tea party.

Read the play,The Boston Tea Party, as Readers’ Theater and let students dramatize it.


You were a reporter at the Boston Tea Party. Write a news article about your observations. I am the editor and I want you to remember that you should state what you saw and not put your opinion into your news.


ESOL and special need students may buddy read the play.

GT students may draw a political cartoon about the “party.”


The Boston Tea Party by Sarah J. Glasscock from Scholastic’s Hands-On History ISBN 0-439-07208-5 a reader’s theater selection

A picture of the Boston Tea Party

The destruction of tea at Boston harbor. Lithograph by N. Currier, 1846.
Reproduction number: LC-USZC4-523 (color film copy transparency)

Day 4
Objectives: Students will learn about the following:

Intolerable Acts 1774

First Continental Congress 1775


Overhead of colonists in cage

Cartoon analysis worksheet

Picture book: Charlotte

Venn diagram


intolerable (unbearable)

Congress (a group of delegates who meet to discuss a certain matter)

Preview on RAP

Write a slogan for the colonists that supports independence using 10 words or less. Share.


Reminder…have students draw the “road to war” along both pages.

Recap yesterday’s lesson. After the Boston Tea Party there was no turning around and working out any problems with Britain. She had had enough of those unruly colonists.

And so the story continues…The colonists received a severe punishment from Britain in the form of the Intolerable or Coercive Acts. More soldiers were quartered in Boston, the harbor was blockaded, and the colonists had to pay for the cost of the tea before the harbor could be reopened. Jobs were lost and goods could not be shipped.
Look at the cartoon of the colonists in the cage. Use the cartoon analysis worksheet from the National Archives to analyze this cartoon. There are three levels of involvement for students to be involved in, dealing with the objects to the message in the picture.

In Section 1:

  1. Write Intolerable Acts 1774 on the road.

  2. Glue on the small cartoon of the colonists in the cage.

  3. Make speech bubbles for what they might be saying.

Because of the Intolerable Acts the rest of the colonies decided to send aid to Boston. This backfired against Britain as the colonies actually worked together for the first time.

Colonial leaders were worried, so fifty-six of them from all the colonies except Georgia, met to discuss the future of the colonies and ties with Britain at the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia from September 5 through October 28. Plans were formed to unify and protect the colonies, as British soldiers occupied Boston, and trouble was right around the corner.
In Section 2:

  1. Write First Continental Congress 1765 on road.

  2. Label Philadelphia on the map of 13 colonies.

  3. Draw a scroll and list some of the problems the colonists were facing.


As we wind up this road to war and the causes of dissatisfaction, it’s time to read Charlotte aloud. This powerful story touches many emotions. Students will need a Venn diagram in front of them for this activity. As I read students should jot down emotions they think Charlotte and her father are experiencing. This story lends itself to a powerful class discussion. Assess student responses during this activity.

Militias began gathering supplies and the British found out. Lexington and Concord are next on the list of important events. They became the scenes of the earliest confrontation with British soldiers, as they were so close to Boston. The “shot heard around the world” took place here on April 19, 1775, but that’s for another story.


ESOL and special need students may draw pictures instead of words in the Venn diagram.

GT students may add an additional circle to the Venn diagram and compare another character such as the mother or uncle.


Picture book: Charlotte by Janet Lunn ISBN: 0-88776-383-9

The touching story of a 10-year girl caught in the hatred of war. Her father is a Patriot who has forbidden her to visit her Loyalist cousins. He dramatically cuts the family ties with Charlotte after an innocent, goodbye visit with these cou

Cartoon Analysis Worksheet

Level 1


Words (not all cartoons include words)

  1. List the objects or people you see in the cartoon.

  1. Identify the cartoon caption and/or title.

  2. Locate three words or phrases used by the cartoonist to identify objects or people within the cartoon.

  3. Record any important dates or numbers that appear in the cartoon.

Level 2



  1. Which of the objects on your list are symbols?

  2. What do you think each symbol means?

  1. Which words or phrases in the cartoon appear to be the most significant? Why do you think so?

  2. List adjectives that describe the emotions portrayed in the cartoon.

Level 3

  1. Describe the action taking place in the cartoon.

  2. Explain how the words in the cartoon clarify the symbols.

  3. Explain the message of the cartoon.

  4. What special interest groups would agree/disagree with the cartoon's message? Why?

Page URL:
Day 5
Today we will finish up these “road to war” activities with a review strategy called “Chain Reaction Review Game.”


Students will review the causes of dissatisfaction leading to the American Revolution.


3 – 5 short test questions per student written on notecards

1 small whiteboard or other hard surface

a coin

a small non-breakable item (ex. rubber chicken)

How to Play:

  1. Each student will create 3 – 5 short answer questions based on the material covered during the past four days. These questions should be written on the front of individual notecards, and their answers should be written on the back. Collect the notecards.

  1. Arrange students into two teams. Members of each team should sit shoulder-to-shoulder and face the opposing team. Ask students to hold the hands of the team members to the left and right of them.

  1. Place the non-breakable item on a chair between the last team members.

  1. The teacher sits between the FIRST members with the whiteboard, a coin, and the questions.

  1. Ask the first two team members to carefully watch the coin as you continuously flip it. Ask all the other team members to look in the opposite direction.

  1. Continuously flip the coin. The first two members must watch for the FIRST time you roll “heads.” When they see you roll “heads” they must gently squeeze their team member’s hand—beginning the chain reaction!

  1. When the last person on each team feels the squeeze he/she must reach for the unbreakable that you have placed at the end of the line. The first person to grab the item gives his/her team the FIRST chance to answer a question.

  1. If “Team A” grabs the item first, the FIRST person on Team A (the one sitting closest to you—who started the chain reaction) has the opportunity to answer the question. He/she may NOT get help from fellow teammates. If he/she answers the question correctly, his/her team earns a point. If he/she answers the question incorrectly, the first person on the opposing team has a chance to “steal” the point by answering the question correctly.

  1. After the first question has been answered, replace the non-breakable item on the chair, all team members slide down one chair, and the last two people on each team become the first two team members. The same process is repeated until all students get a chance to play!

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