Voices of Revolution

Think About the Selection

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Think About the Selection

  1. We remember James Forten more for his life after the American Revolution than for his role during the war. Use the selection to discuss whether this statement is true or false.

  2. Do you think James Forten was treated fairly when he was a prisoner? How do you think prisoners of war should be treated?

  3. After the British ship, the Active, surrendered, James Forten had "mixed feelings" about the victory. Why? Describe the feelings he may have had.

  4. James Forten and Captain Beasley's son shared an interest in playing marbles. What interests do you have that might help build a friendship?

  5. Choose one of the events that helped shape James Forten's life. What do you think he learned from this experience?

  6. Walter Dean Myers writes that James Forten was "not a hero." Do you agree or disagree? Explain why. What do you think it means to be a hero?

  7. Connecting/Comparing Many people, both Patriots and Tories, risked their lives during the American Revolution. Compare the dangers that Paul Revere, Katie Gray, and James Forten each faced during the war.


Write a Dialogue

What do you think James Forten said to persuade his mother to let him go to sea? What might she have said in reply? Write a dialogue between Forten and his mother that shows how each feels.


  • Be sure that each character states his or her opinion clear­ly and backs it up with strong reasons.

  • Use correct punctuation and capitalization.


Social Studies

Create a Pamphlet

Based on what you have read about Philadelphia in this selection, create a pamphlet that tells about the city's strong points in 1781. Try to persuade people to move to the city.


Write a Caption

Look back at the illustrations in the selection. Choose one that you find interesting or exciting. Then write a caption that provides a short explanation of what is happening in the illustration.


Take an Online Quiz

In this theme, Voices of the Revolution, you read about people who helped create the United States. Take our online quiz at Education Place to see what you remember. www.eduplace.com/kids


Social Studies Link

Skill: How to Follow Directions

  1. Read through the directions, noting materials needed and the sequence of steps. Pay special attention to order words such as first, next, then, after, or finally. Study pictures or diagrams, if provided.

  2. Gather the materials. Reread the steps, one at a time, and follow each in sequence.

  3. If you don't understand a step, reread the directions. Check diagrams again.

Games of Young America

When James Forten and Captain Beasley's son played marbles on the deck of the British ship Amphyon, they were taking part in a game that has been popular for more than 2000 years.

Many games from the time of the American Revolution are still with us, such as tag, leap frog, and hide-and-seek. Other games have changed only slightly. Jackstraws, quoits, and the game battledore and shuttle­cock are known today as pick-up sticks, horseshoes, and badminton.

Most colonial games relied on simple objects found at home. One of the most popular games of the revolutionary period, hoop-rolling, used the wood or metal hoops that held barrels together.

The games described here would look very familiar to James Forten and his friends. When you play them you will be keeping alive traditions that are hundreds of years old.


Marbles, or "Ring Taw"

As you will discover, hitting the marbles in the circle requires practice and skill!

Players: 2 to 5

Materials: 6 marbles or cranberries per player

Object of the Game: To win marbles belonging to other players

How to play

  1. Draw a circle, three feet in diameter, on a level surface.

  2. Draw another circle, one foot in diameter, in the center of the first circle.

  3. Place marbles inside the smaller circle, five marbles for each player. Save the sixth marble as the "shooter."

  4. To choose the first player, take turns shooting from the outside circle. To shoot, cradle the marble in one hand and release it with a fast flick of the thumb. The player whose shooter lands closest to the inside circle has the first turn.

  5. Take turns trying to shoot marbles out of the inside circle. Players keep all the marbles they shoot out. A turn ends when a player misses.

  6. Play until all the marbles have been shot from the circle. The player with the most marbles is the winner.



In the 1700s, children often scratched the pattern for this game in the dirt with a stick.

Players: 2 to 4

Materials: Number cube; up to four different kinds of markers (beans or buttons); a game board, as shown.

Object of the Game: To be the first player to arrive at the center of the spiral.

How to Play

  1. Choose markers - a different marker for each player.

  2. Take turns rolling a number cube. The highest number goes first.

  3. The first player rolls a number cube and moves the number of spaces shown. The next player rolls and moves. Take turns to the left around the circle.

  4. No player may land in an occupied space. If a player rolls a three and that space is occupied, he or she must give up that turn.

  5. The winner is the first to land on the last spot in the center of the spiral. A player close to the last spot cannot move if he or she rolls a number higher than the remaining spaces.


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