Carpenters' Hall

Introduction to the Revolutionary War Activity

Teachers: The following lesson is an activity designed to introduce your students to the Revolutionary War, the sentiment of the colonists and the loyalist, and a general idea of the treatment of the colonies by Great Britain that led to this war for independence. One point to note is that many historians regard the Revolutionary War as one that began as a civil war. Most colonists considered themselves British throughout the war, but believed that they were not being treated properly by the Crown.

This lesson is a basic analogy that you can adjust according to the needs and skill level of your students. The recommended grade levels are 7-12.

Activity:

  1. Begin the lesson explaining that the whole class is now being considered the "Nation of Room _____." Emphasize that everyone should feel equal in the classroom, and that you, the teacher, are regarded as the leader of the nation. Write it on the board.
  2. Next explain that as time goes on you will probably stop paying as much attention to those in the back of the room, because they are so much further away from you than the first few rows/tables. But they will be able to get by on their own. Ask those in the back how they feel about that. They will probably love it.
  3. Now say that you are jumping to a few weeks from now after you have explained all this. The back of the class is doing fine…they don't cause too much trouble, etc. Explain that you recently received a letter from The School Board detailing how poorly the school in general is doing with test scores compared to other schools. The School Board is now demanding that each teacher give more homework to his or her students. So, what you are going to do is give all the extra homework to the kids in the back of the class. You won't hear them if they complain, so it doesn't matter, as long as they do it. (And you will be making sure they do it.)
  4. Explain to the back half of the class that you feel bad, but they really haven't been doing anything for the past several weeks, and you don't want to lose your job. The front half has been so good doing their homework, you wouldn't want to punish them. Make sure to tell them that they are still a part of the Nation of Room ___, and should consider themselves students of you, the teacher.
  5. Tell the students that another several weeks have gone by in this fashion. Ask each half of the classroom to tell you how they feel. Most students in the front will say, "Great." And those in the back should not be too happy.
  6. Next, ask them to take out a piece of paper and write the sequence of events that just happened over the "last couple of months." After a few minutes have a few come to the board and share.
  7. Now tell them that the classroom represents the empire of Great Britain. The front t half of the class are residents of England, and the back half are colonists. The teacher is the King of England, the School Board is the British Parliament, and the homework they wanted the teacher to assign represents the taxes the British imposed on the colonies after The French and Indian War, about which they should already know.
  8. Play with this concept. Ask them how they would feel, what they would do, etc. Make sure they understand the parallel between the two situations (detail depends on grade level). Assign another composition asking them to explain their own feelings, as well as the feelings of those on the other side of the situation.
  9. Segue into details about events leading up to the Revolutionary War.

Carpenters' Hall, 320 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Open free to the public daily, except Mondays (and Tuesdays in Jan. and Feb.), from 10am-4pm

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