Few events have had such a significant impact on the formation of the United States as the French and Indian War. The French and Indian War, also known as The Seven Years War, was both an immense victory for Great Britain and a colossal loss. The British were able to add a significant amount of North American territory to their empire, but financed the campaign with borrowed money. The incredible debt created by war spending led to the infamous taxation crisis in the colonies, which became the primary catalyst for the American Revolution.
By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!
The French and Indian War refers to fighting in North America between French and British forces from 1754-1763, as part of the larger conflict between France, England, Spain, and others known as the Seven Years War. By the middle of the 18th century, Europeans had explored and begun to colonize the North American continent. France, England, and Spain claimed the lands of North America, but not all territory was agreed upon.
The area between New France and the British Colonies saw the majority of the fighting during the French and Indian War. Colonists and soldiers disputed borders and both sides wanted the best land. The most highly contested land surrounded what is now the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, and the Ohio River Valley. France began constructing forts in the Ohio River Valley on the western edge of the British Colonies, and Britain responded by sending troops to enforce her land claims and force out the French.
In this teacher’s guide, students will be able to identify the causes of the French and Indian War and the impacts that it had on American History. Students will create a timeline that represents the major events before, during, and after the war. Students will research one of the prominent leaders of the French and Indian War and represent the impact that they had on the outcomes of the war. Students will compare and contrast the two major fighting forces of the French and Indian War and represent their forces, ideologies, and outcomes from the war. Students will also research the role that Native Americans had on the war and how their knowledge of the land had an immense impact on Europeans living in North America.
Essential Questions for The French and Indian War
What was the French and Indian War?
Who was involved in the French and Indian War?
How did Native Americans impact the war?
What were the outcomes of the French and Indian War?
The French and Indian War Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers
[ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/3] Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
In this activity, students will create a timeline representing the events leading up to, during, and following the French and Indian War. For each event, students should include the significance of each event and create a representation of these events. Students should include at least one event that occurred before the war, during the war, and after the war in order to have a timeline that reflects the full span of the conflict.
Example French and Indian War Timeline
French Settle on the Forks of the Ohio River Valley
In 1750, the French settled on the forks of the Ohio River Valley. The British and French began a series of small quarrels over the surrounding land and the resources on it.
May 28, 1754
Captain Jumonville Killed
In 1754, 22-year-old George Washington was sent by the British to force the French out of the Ohio River Valley. Following the surrender of the French, a Native American ally violated the rules of war and executed the surrendered French Captain Jumonville.
July 17, 1754
Washington Surrenders Fort Necessity
In 1754, George Washington lost the battle of Fort Necessity. With the help of Native American allies, the French were able to use guerrilla warfare tactics to weaken Washington's troops. Following the battle, Washington was forced to sign the surrender document which, unknown to him, also admitted to murdering the French captain.
July 9, 1755
French Captain Uses Native American Camouflage
In a monumental decision for the French military, a French Captain, Daniel Liénard de Beaujeu, wore Native America camouflage into battle. This seemingly insignificant event defined how the French were willing to immerse themselves in Native culture, while the British refused to lose their "honor" and tradition.
September 14, 1757
Battle of Fort Duquesne
Led by General Edward Braddock, the British clashed with the French for re-acquisition of Fort Duquesne and the forks of the Ohio River Valley. Unable to see their camouflaged French enemies, the British red-coats lost 977 men, while the French only lost nine.
William Pitt Increases War Spending
William Pitt became a Secretary of State for Great Britain and quickly began to drastically increase the spending on the war. The French were unable to match the financial spending and this would become the major turning point of the war.
September 13, 1759
Quebec Falls to the British
In 1759, the British were led by General James Wolfe to Quebec and were able to defeat the French forces. The battle was fought on the Plains of Abraham, and within 20 minutes, the French forces surrendered. This victory gave the British full access to the St. Lawrence River.
February 10, 1763
Treaty of Paris
On February 10th, 1763 the Treaty of Paris was signed. The Treaty of Paris concluded the French and Indian War and removed the French from North America. It was the beginning of British dominance on the continent.
To extend this activity, students will create a spider map detailing the event they found most significant in causing of the French and Indian War. In the extension boxes, students will answer the following questions.
[ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/1] Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
[ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/2] Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
In this activity, students will create a spider map that represents the “5 Ws” of the French and Indian War. For each “W”, students will answer the central question in the space below and create a representation of their responses. The following are potential questions for this activity.
Who was involved in the French and Indian War?
Who were the leaders of the French and Indian War?
What were the areas of conflict during the French and Indian War?
What lead to the start of the French and Indian War?
Why were the British able to defeat the French?
When was the French and Indian War fought?
Where was the war primarily fought?
Example French and Indian War 5 Ws
WHAT was the French and Indian War?
The French and Indian War was the name given to the North American theater of the Seven Years War, between England and France. The war was fought from 1754 to 1763, and the "tug-of-war" resulted in a British victory of the continent.
WHO fought in the French and Indian War?
The French and Indian War involved British, French, and Native American forces, fighting over North America. The name itself represents the major forces that the British faced during the war, however the Iroquois nation became an essential ally of the British to win the war.
WHEN was the French and Indian War?
The French and Indian War was fought from 1754 to 1763. Due to the immense spending by Britain on the war, Great Britain began their infamous taxation of the colonies.
WHY were the British able to win the war?
The British were able to win the war the due to their financial advantage over the French. As the Seven Years War raged on, the French were unable to keep up with the massive British spending.
WHERE was the war primarily fought?
The primary location of fighting during the French and Indian War occurred throughout the Ohio River Valley and along the St. Lawrence River. The use of waterways was crucial for any success throughout the war.
[ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
In this activity, students will choose one of the major figures, battles, or terms of the French and Indian War to research. Following their research, students will create a spider map that reflects the description of the term chosen and the significance of it on the French and Indian War. Have students ask meaningful questions to show the term's importance.
French and Indian War Key Terms
St. Lawrence River
Forks of the Ohio River Valley
Treaty of Paris
Proclamation of 1763
The Saint Lawrence River Example
What is the St. Lawrence River?
The St. Lawrence River is one of the largest rivers in North America. The river spans 744 miles from the St. Lawrence Bay to the Great Lakes.
Why was this river so important?
The St. Lawrence River was the "key to the continent" of North America. Due to the challenging landscape throughout the Northeast, the river facilitated the shipment of goods and people.
What role did it have in the war?
Control of the St. Lawrence River allowed those in control to transport essential items throughout the continent during the war. Whoever controlled the river had a major advantage over those forced to trek through the wilderness.
In this activity, students will create a storyboard grid that compares and contrasts the French and the English during the French and Indian War. Students will research the leadership, relationships with Native Americans, fighting styles, and outcomes from the Treaty of Paris in order to complete this activity. For each topic, students will summarize both English and French sides and create a visualization of each description.
The British used a very "European style" type of fighting during the war. The British would fight in a linear formation and were defined by their bright red coats, which were easily seen by enemies even in dense wilderness.
The French adapted the Native American "guerrilla" tactics during the war. The French relied on camouflage to blend into the environment, making it very difficult for their enemies to spot them in combat.
Native American Relations
In the early stages of the French and Indian War, British leadership were adamant in their abilities to win the war on their own without help from the "savages" of North America. As the war progressed, the British would ally themselves with the powerful Iroquois Nation.
Since early French exploration, their relations with the Native Americans were much better than the British. Initial French fur traders and couerurs de bois or "runners of the woods" allowed for numerous alliances with Native American tribes throughout the war.
The British leadership included Edward Braddock, James Wolfe, and a young George Washington. All three leaders experience loss during the war; Washington lost Fort Necessity, while both Braddock and Wolfe were killed in battle.
The French were lead primarily by Louis-Joseph de Montcalm. Montcalm was an exceptional military strategist, however the major turning point in the war came when he lost the city of Quebec to the British General, James Wolfe. Montcalm was killed in the fight for Quebec.
To extend this activity, students will compare and contrast two Native American tribes that played a role in the French and Indian War. Students can research the European alliances, fighting styles, the regions they lived in and any other topic that the students found significant.
[ELA-Literacy/RI/11-12/1] Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
In this activity, students will create a spider map depicting the numerous outcomes of the French and Indian War under the surrender document known as the Treaty of Paris. Students should research the outcomes of the Treaty of Paris before beginning this activity. For each cell of the spider map, students should include a description of the specific outcome and include a representation for each.
The Outcomes of the Treaty of Paris
Outcomes for France
Following the French defeat, France lost all claims to land on the North American continent. Although they lost, France able to keep some small sugar-producing islands in the West Indies.
Outcomes for Spain and Great Britain
With the British victory in the French and Indian War/Seven Years War, the British gained control over Canada and all lands east of the Mississippi River and Spain received the land west of the Mississippi.
Outcomes for Native Americans
Despite Native Americans being on the land prior to the Europeans, they received nothing in the Treaty of Paris. Despite many tribes assisting the British to win the war, they lost their land and quickly became pushed aside for British expansionism.
In this activity, students will select what they find to be the most significant outcome of the French and Indian War and create a spider map that answers the "5 Ws" to further explain the significance of the event.