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A Unit Study on the American Revolution

I had great success with this unit with my son. He is a very hands-on learner and a former reluctant reader. Don’t let the topic overwhelm you. It isn’t just reserved for the Jr. and Sr. High student. There are many good activities, books, and websites that are easily scaleable for all age/grade levels. Below are the resources and activities that I used. You set your own calendar based on your own home schooling needs.




GENERAL RESOURCES:

Teacher Created Materials thematic unit series has an activity book entitled “Revolutionary War” in their challenging level. I used this book with great success with my elementary age children, just modifying some of the activities and questions to better suit their level and learning style. As with the other books in this series, “Revolutionary War” uses two book selections to help frame their study: Johnny Tremaine by Esther Forbes and The Fighting Ground by Avi. I really like this series as it has an “across the curriculum” approach and gives a sample lesson plans that you can use or adjust. (ISBN 1-55734-293-8). Teacher Created Materials are usually available at teaching supplies stores or can be ordered direct from the company at their website which is www.teachercreated.com . Christian Book Distributors (CBD) also has several in the thematic unit series available for sale.

T.S. Denison publications has a book in its Time Traveler Series entitled “US History: American Revolution” which is another good across curriculum activity book for this study. (ISBN 590-219-3605) This series was written for 3rd to 6th grades; however, as with many of the resources that I use, most of the activities in the book are scaleable to different levels. Very young children may be overwhelmed by some of these activities though as they do tend to test deductive and inductive thinking skills. The books in this series also come with 200 stickers to use as incentives.

Another series that I use quite extensively is the Hands-On-Heritage series by Edupress. This series has an activity book entitled “Revolutionary War Era Activity Book” (ISBN 56472-107-8). Its advertised for ages 8 to 13 years, but is one of the easiest to modify for any age that I’ve found. This book uses arts and crafts, cooking and historical aids to explore the era.

Milliken’s overhead transparency series is a good resource for the older student. “A New Nation Is Born” has 12 full-color transparencies, 28 reproducible pages, and a teacher’s guide. I have found that even with younger children, the color transparencies are good for illustrating events or ideas. (ISBN 1-55863-502-5)

Dover Coloring Books has many good selections that are useful to this unit. For their value these books are very inexpensive, usually costing about $2.95 if you buy them from an art store or teacher supply store. Many of Dover’s coloring books can also be purchased through the home school supplier Rainbow Resource and can be located on the amazon.com website.

American Wildflowers
Audubon Birds of America
Colonial and Early American Fashions
Early American Crafts
Early American Trades
Everyday Dress of the Colonial Period
Indian Tribes of North America
Medicinal Plants
Small Animals of North America
Story of the American Revolution

Blank map outlines are good to have when adding a geography component to your unit studies. In this study, you could discuss the original 13 colonies, the location of Native American Indian tribes at this time, locate major resources, ports, forts, troop movements or battle locations, and settlements. Blank maps come in handy for many different uses. Here is an online site where you can obtain some outline maps: http://dev.sbgschool.com/teacher_activities/social_studies/outlinemaps.html

The Benjamin Franklin Book of Easy and Incredible Experiments (ISBN 0-471-07638-4).

American Heroes (1735-1900) by Morrie Greenberg has two selections in it that proved useful in this study: Peter Zenger: Freedom Fighter and George Washington: Hero At Valley Forge. (ISBN 0-9622652-3-3)

American Adventures: True Stories From America’s Past (1770 – 1870) is another book by Morrie Greenberg. The first story in this book is dated 1781, but there is a good timeline and commentary that is useful to this study. (ISBN 0-9622652-1-7)

“Colonial Days” in the American Kids in History series is available through your local bookstore. Just have them look it up on their current publications file if they don’t have a copy in-store. This series follows a fictional family for a year in their life and is filled with information and activities that are hands-on and interesting.

Two books by Laurie Carlson that you may want to look into obtaining are “Colonial Kids” and “More Than Moccasins.” These books are full of activities appropriate to this unit study. These should be easily obtainable from your local bookstore. These two listings are also available in the Rainbow Resource Catalog.

Don’t forget paper dolls as a way of illustrating or simulating historical periods and/or events. Two that I’ve used for this unit are “American Family of the Federal Period” and “Colonial Fashions.” The Barnes and Nobles that we have by me have a good selection of paper doll books. Amazon.com also carries these books.

WEBSITES:

There are so many sites out there that can be used with a unit study on the American Revolution that it is sometimes hard to know where to begin. I’ve included many that I personally used as resource material. Several of these sites are geared especially for children or have a children’s section. There are also a number of prepared unit studies websites listed. [Note: as with all my sites, I review each web address for content at the time of publication; however, please have an adult check the site again before using with children.]

A good place to start on the internet when looking for a prepared unit study is at Mr. Donn’s website. Here is the site for his American Revolution listings:

http://members.aol.com/MrDonnHistory/American.html#REV

The Puzzle Maker helps make worksheets to use with unit studies.

http://puzzlemaker.school.discovery.com/

The American Revolution for Kids (great site)

http://artemis.simmons.edu/~williamf/AmRev/

The American Revolutionary War Page (national discussion board)

http://revolution.h-net.msu.edu/

The American Revolutionary Time Period

http://www.angelfire.com/oh/adoptalabrador/americanrevolutionlp.html

A section of Thomas Jefferson’s autobiography

http://www.leftjustified.com/leftjust/lib/sc/ht/decl/home.html

Colonists in the New World

http://www.nashville-schools.davidson.k12.tn.us/CurriculumAwards/colonists/colonists_in_the_new_world.htm

Experience Colonial Life

http://www.history.org/life/life.htm

American Revolution and Founding Era

http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/us_founding_era

A list of notable people during Colonial times

http://www.nashville-schools.davidson.k12.tn.us/CurriculumAwards/colonists/NOTABLE_PEOPLE.html

Homework Helpers section on the American Revolution

http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/k12/history/aha/arnav.html

Notable Women of the colonial period

http://earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/notable/index.html

Colonial American History for K12. This is a really good site to garner information from.

http://falcon.jmu.edu/~ramseyil/colonial.htm

A Literature unit based on the book “Can’t You Make Them Behave King George?”

http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/curriculum/socialstd/grade5/Cant_Behave.html

Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home) h

ttp://www.mountvernon.org/

Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s home)

http://www.monticello.org/

The American Revolution

http://www.kent.k12.wa.us/KSD/DE/research/revolution/

ThinkQuest for the American Revolution

http://library.thinkquest.org/10966/

The George Washington Papers

http://www.virginia.edu/gwpapers/

Spy Letters of the American Revolution

http://www.si.umich.edu/spies/

When he was 16 years old, George Washington wrote a list of manners and good behavior. This is interesting to compare to acceptable behaviors today

http://www.history.org/life/manners/rules2.htm

A literature study based on the book Swift Arrow.

http://home.earthlink.net/~lacelle/swiftarrow.htm

Build a Colony

http://www.crpc.rice.edu/CRPC/GT/jamerson/Colony/

The Life of George Washington

http://earlyamerica.com/lives/gwlife/index.html

Both sides of the Revolution

http://www.bright.net/~double/rev.htm

About.com is a wonderful place to go for information for a unit study. This is their address for information pertaining to the American Revolution

http://americanhistory.about.com/homework/americanhistory/msub24.htm?pid=2765&cob=home

This site has several links to lesson plans for history

http://www.public.iastate.edu/~history/lessons/hannibal/lessons.html

Information on American Revolution reenactment events

http://www.livinghistoryonline.com/rev-war.htm

Kid Info…American Revolution

http://www.kidinfo.com/American_History/American_Revolution.html

Colonial Timeline

http://www.history.org/dateline/chronhdr.htm

FICTION/NON-FICTION:

There are so many selections worth making note of, and the following list is in no way meant to be all inclusive. However, the selections I do mention are ones that I’ve personally used.

This site has a comprehensive reading list for the Revolutionary era. Includes books other than those listed below.

http://www.bright.net/~double/rev.htm

While I don’t usually recommend every book by a single author, I am going to recommend Jean Fritz. She is the author of “The Cabin Faced West” and many other works of historical fiction. She has a number of books that would fit quite well into a study on the Revolutionary era.

My Brother Sam Is Dead
Felicity of the American Girl series
Lives of the Signers
“The Winter of the Red Snow: The Revolutionary War Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart (1777)” in the Dear America series
“The Journal of William Thomas Emerson: A Revolutionary War Patriot (1774)” in the My Name Is America series
Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
Ben Franklin by Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire ( we enjoyed this book so much)
If you lived in Colonial Times by Ann McGovern
The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds
Calico Captive by Elizabeth Speare.
Sign of the Beaver by E. Speare
George Washington by d'Aulaire
George the Drummer boy & Sam the Minuteman by Benchley
What are you figuring Now? a story of Benjamin Banneker by Jeri Ferris
Paul Revere's Ride by Longfellow
Toliver's Secret by Esther Wood Brady
George Washington's World by Genevieve Foster ( We used this more for reference).
Amos Fortune: Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (We really liked this story).
The Story of Thomas Jefferson by Earl Schenck Miers (from the Signature Series).
The Bulletproof George Washington by David Barton (geared more for grades 7 & up).
Day of Glory (The guns at Lexington and Concord) by Philip Spencer.
Meet George Washington by Joan Heilbroner (A Stepup reading book)
Meet Thomas Jefferson by Marvin Barrett (A Stepup book)
Ben Franklin of old Philedelphia by margaret Cousins
Paul Revere and the minute men by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
The Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Clifford Lindsey Alderman

COOKING/ARTS & CRAFTS:

The books that I listed above have most of the activities that I used in my unit study. Below are a few more.

Thomas Jefferson Spoon Bread: Scald 1 quart of milk and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle in very slowly, one cup of cornmeal. Cook in a double boiler for one hour. Add 3 T. butter and 3 eggs. Mix well. Bake in a medium oven for 45 minutes. – [note: I’ve also been able to find modern mixes for spoon bread in the “flour” section of my local grocery store.]

Recipes from Colonial Williamsburg

http://www.history.org/life/food/foodhdr.htm

Check your local fabric store (i.e., JoAnn Frabrics, Mae’s, etc.) for patterns for making historical era clothing. Simplicity Patterns had them in the costume section of their catalog.

Create a Revolutionary War era diary. You can use the Dear America as an example. They can have daily writing assignments pretending they are a boy, girl, man, or woman during the revolutionary period or they can actually do some of their projects in the journal.

Check old recipe books for more ideas on cooking. Try making bread completely from scratch. Also, just imagine how many and what kinds of supplies you would need to feed an entire regiment of soldiers.

Remind the boys that there were few women that marched with the regiments. Have them do their own cooking, laundry, and sewing for a day to see what this would have been like for a man/boys in those days.

VIDEOS:

This is a new category in my unit studies that I will be including where applicable. Our county’s library system has an extensive video collection. If your library system does not, you may be able to get these through interlibrary loan. I would also suggest that, if you have cable or satellite TV, that you keep your eyes open for shows and series that you may want to use for this or any unit. Several channels now carry educational programming: the History Channel, A&E Biographies, the Learning Channel (TLC), your local public broadcasting station. Your local university may also have its own television station which produces or airs suitable programming.

The Liberty! Series by PBS. PBS also has a webpage dedicated to this series. http://www.pbs.org/ktca/liberty/index.html

Both the History Channel and PBS have produced some wonderful shows on this time era. Check to see what listings are available at your library. Ken Burns, the same man who produced the acclaimed Civil War series, also did a series on the American Revolution.

I hope that you have found these resources helpful. And, don’t forget to take pictures or keep a journal of your unit study. One, this could be a very useful addition to your portfolio, and two, it could be a source of inspiration or support when you’ve had one of those “end of the rope” days.

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