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American Revolution Lesson Plans

The American Revolution was a turning point in the history of the United States. Throughout the Revolution, countless key figures influenced the colonies as British forces pressed on. Starting with the infamous Shot Heard Round The World, American colonists defended the country and ultimately helped the United States become independent from England. Although many American colonists lost their lives defending their country, the American Revolution brought true freedom to the United States. These activities will help students understand key events and people in the greater context of the war.

Student Activities for American Revolution

Essential Questions for the American Revolution

  1. What is the significance of major, pivotal battles, including Lexington/Concord, Bunker (Breed’s) Hill, and Yorktown?
  2. What were the major advantages and disadvantages of both the British and American forces during the war?
  3. How did each side perform in pivotal battles?
  4. Who were the major key figures and leaders of the revolution?
  5. What roles did the key figures play and how did their actions affect the outcome of the war?
  6. How did the American colonists eventually achieve victory?
  7. How did ideas of independence, nationalism, patriotism, and civil liberties serve as driving forces for the Americans during the revolution?
  8. What is the significance of the Treaty of Paris?
  9. How did Americans initially handle their new-found independence?

American Revolution

Before the United States of America existed as a country, the people who lived in the area were colonists from Great Britain. Great Britain commanded the largest empire the world had ever known, and the American Colonies were just a part of it. As colonists, the American people were not given the same treatment and consideration as “true” British citizens. The colonists did not have representation in Parliament, they had to pay different taxes, they were prohibited from expanding into new territory, and they were forced to house and feed British soldiers after the Quartering Act of 1765. The American people eventually fought to be free from oppression.

The war began with what many call “The Shot Heard Round the World”, which may indeed be true, since the British Empire controlled vast land across the entire world. American colonists began their fight for self-control and independence at the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and from there, history was forever changed. To grasp the holistic perspective of how the war was fought as well as its significance in history, one must understand pivotal battles, the men that led each nation’s forces, and what ultimately brought on the demise of the British forces and the welcoming of an entirely new nation: The United States of America.

Tactics, advantages, defeats, deaths, and victories all defined how and why the war was won. The British Empire, the most powerful military in the world, and American colonists, veterans of years of fighting and oppression from the British, were soon pitted against each other in battle after battle. Despite mounting victories, military superiority, and confidence, the tide of the war shifted from the British to favor the colonists. With French aid and will-power and fueled by the ideas of liberty, the Americans proved victorious at pivotal battles, such as Yorktown, effectively triggering full British surrender. The eventual signing of the Treaty of Paris not only helped punctuate a victory in war for the Americans, but also signaled the birth of their new nation.

Frequently Asked Questions about The American Revolution

What role did key figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin play in the American Revolution?

Key figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin played pivotal roles in the American Revolution. George Washington emerged as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, leading the colonial forces to victory and embodying the spirit of resistance. Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence, articulating the colonies' aspirations for freedom and self-determination. Benjamin Franklin used his diplomatic skills to secure crucial French support for the American cause. Washington's military leadership, Jefferson's eloquent advocacy of liberty, and Franklin's diplomacy were instrumental in the Revolution's success. Their contributions spanned from the battlefield to the drafting table, making them iconic figures in American history.

What were the international dimensions of the American Revolution, including foreign support and alliances?

The American Revolution had significant international dimensions. France played a pivotal role by providing critical military and financial support to the American colonies. The Treaty of Alliance in 1778 formalized the Franco-American alliance, which proved decisive in securing American independence. Spain and the Netherlands also provided support, albeit to a lesser extent. Meanwhile, Britain faced the challenge of fighting a global war, as the conflict extended beyond North America to the Caribbean, Europe, and even India. The international dimensions of the Revolution underscored the interconnectedness of 18th-century geopolitics and highlighted the colonies' ability to garner foreign backing.

How can worksheets assist students in researching primary sources related to the American Revolution, such as letters, documents, or speeches from the period?

Worksheets can be invaluable tools for guiding students in researching primary sources from the American Revolution. One effective approach is to provide structured worksheets with prompts that encourage students to analyze the content, context, and significance of these sources. For example, students can be asked to transcribe and summarize a letter from a Revolutionary figure, identify the author's main arguments, and consider the intended audience and purpose. Additionally, worksheets can include questions that prompt critical thinking, such as asking students to assess the reliability and biases of the source. By providing a framework for examining primary sources, worksheets help students develop essential research and analytical skills while gaining a deeper understanding of the Revolution's historical context and complexities.

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