Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Setting the Stage for the American Revolution

teachinginroom6.blogspot.comOne of my favorite units to teach (as you probably know because every.single.time I talk about it I shout that to the roof!  hee hee) is the American Revolution.  At the beginning of the unit, I ask my students to find artifacts that would represent the time period, and then write WHY they believe these artifacts are appropriate.  In doing this, the students are not only getting their brains focused on the American Revolution and what we are going to be studying, but also begin the process of critically thinking about objects, making inferences about them, and justifying their answers to others (just like they will on the state test....ahhh....always trying to make connections....)

teaching in room 6 blog, upper grade blog, 5th grade
Anyway, I give the students this sheet.  They then set out to find things that really, truly help tell the tale of the Revolution and set the stage for our future learning.















The students came up with a variety of different things.  Some of the objects were homemade, like these tea bottles/bags.  I thought these were SO clever!  I love how each of the students put something on the label identifying it as being from the time period...especially the "Tax" sign. 
social studies, hands on learning

betsy ross, 4th grade blog, upper grades
I also loved these flags that the students made.  We had already read the Betsy Ross story by this point, so the students thought they would make their own flag!














hands on social studies, unit of study
This student created his own tri-corner hat!  Then explained that this was the style of hat worn at the time by people like George Washington.











reading, writing, social studies connectionA book, of a song, that was a popular "dig" on the often disheveled Americans during the French and Indian war and Revolutionary time period. 















An actual $2 bill! (though we did make a photocopy of it for the bulletin board...didn't want money hanging up there)  We had a much greater discussion than the actual writing that this student had written.  What was the scene?  Why was this important?  Why was Jefferson important enough to have a unit of money?
American Revolution, Revolutionary War
 So that is that.  I know many of you are getting ready to embark on this unit when you get back to school from winter break, so I thought I would share.  It really did get my students thinking and on the path towards critically thinking about how our country got its start.

For more posts on this era, click here and here.

What do you do to introduce this unit of history?

12 comments:

  1. Stephanie,

    I am beginning the same unit after the break and LOVE your artifact activity! Do you give this to the kids after you have started talking about it or before you start? Last year we were using the textbooks mainly for social studies. Thank goodness we are not using them this year, too heavy and dull. What do you use for lessons? Also, I found a cool video of different movie stars reciting the Declaration of Independence. If you have not seen this before you should check it out. Thanks for posting and sharing your ideas.

    Declaration of Independence Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYyttEu_NLU

    Sarah
    Teaching Star Students

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    1. I haven't seen that video before. Thanks for posting!

      As for the scavenger hunt, I give it to them on the day we open the unit BUT we have already learned about colonization and what was happening in the time before the French and Indian war. So they do have some background knowledge. They then have a week or so to bring the items in, by which time we have learned a little about the revolution too.

      For lessons, I use a mixture of pretty much everything I have gathered over the years! Mostly trade books, but I do use our social studies book some. The internet has a lot of great ideas too! Thank goodness for the internet. What did we do before it???
      Stephanie

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  2. Hi Stephanie

    That is a really great idea for an introduction to the unit...and ultimately any unit with a significant time period. I always find myself struggling when it comes to teaching social studies because we do not necessarily have a currirulum except that we should be teaching about the state we live in first (which for us is NJ) and then the rest of the 49 states in region order. Any suggestions on how to start the conversation through history of the states? We are entering the north and south east. We are doing a project where every studnet has a different state to research but I would love to some how tie in time period pieces of history like colonization, explorers, declaration of independence, etc.

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    1. I am not very familiar with the NJ state standards, but I know in CA we spend a GREAT deal of time just on our state in 4th grade. We learn about the missions and the gold rush, the regions of the state...basically all things CA. Then in 5th grade, we learn about the rest of the United States. Do you do something like that or are you supposed to teach about NJ AND the rest of the US in one year?
      Stephanie

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    2. I do a fantastic unit called See the U.S.A. designed by an incredible company called Interact. It's amazing and my students "travel" across the U.S. and learn about many states..places to go.. there is math, language arts, social studies, map skills .. it's a fantastic alternative to state reports which are too boring. My students love this and can't wait to work on it each day
      Dina

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  3. I like to start American Revolution with The King's M & M's. Here is a link to the activity. I've also introduced our unit with a fake memo about taxing chocolate milk, jeans, and tennis shoes at school. The kids get really fired up! Then we discuss fairness, boycott, and writing to explain why we're upset. Thanks for sharing your awesome ideas!

    Young Daze in 5th Grade

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    1. I love the idea of taxing chocolate milk, jeans and tennis shoes. This is a great way to start, I am going to use your idea.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Sarah
      Teaching Star Students

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  4. Stephanie--thanks for this. We study the Revolution in the spring, so I'm bookmarking your great ideas.

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  5. You are amazing! I love this unit as well! Your creativity never ceases to amaze me girl!! I love the way you allow for such creativity and for your students to own the learning. That is HUGE! Thank you, as always, for your awesome ideas!!

    P.S.- Got your email! Working on that now!

    YoungTeacherLove 5th Grade Blog

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    1. Thanks Kristine :)

      Take your time on the email...no rush! ;)

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  6. Gosh, I'm going to miss teaching social studies even more now.... You make learning fun :)

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  7. I LOVE your ideas for the Revolutionary War! What curriculum do you use, or do you not have a social studies curriculum? What picture books do you use to teach these concepts? As a new teacher, I'm trying to learn all I can to supplement our curriculum, which is very lacking. ledbetter2@marshall.edu

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