What could be more exciting than a riotous rebellion and mutiny!? The American Revolution was far from boring! Therefore, lessons about the American Revolution should not be boring either. Here are seven American Revolution activities to get your students excited to learn about the United States’ founding!
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Use a Stamp Act Activity
A Stamp Act activity is a great way to help students understand taxes and why the colonists were upset about paying them. I use two Stamp Act simulations in my classroom. In the first simulation activity, students are given candy. They must pay their candy to tax collectors for certain activities throughout a day.
The second Stamp Act simulation spans the entire length of my American Revolution unit. Using a classroom economy system, students earn pretend money. Then, they must use that money to purchase stamps. All paper assignments throughout the unit must have a stamp attached to it.
These American Revolution activities help students better understand the causes of the colonists’ rebellion from Great Britain and students also have a lot of fun completing the simulations.
Have a Boston Massacre Investigation
Every story has many sides to it and the Boston Massacre was no exception! To help students understand what actually happened during the Boston Massacre, I use an investigation activity. Students become detectives and examine different accounts of the Boston Massacre. I provide a variety of first-hand accounts for the students to analyze. Then, they must draw conclusions about what actually happened the night of the event. Not only is this one of my students’ favorite American Revolution activities, but it’s also one of my students’ favorite history activities throughout the entire school year!
Host an American Revolution Debate
Often, students assume that all the colonists were patriots. To show students that not all colonists supported the decision to separate from Great Britain, host an American Revolution debate. Divide the class into patriots and loyalists. Then, give each group time to research and discuss why some colonists wanted to rebel and others wanted to remain part of Great Britain. After students have had time to gather their ideas, lead the class in a debate. This is also a great opportunity to discuss public speaking skills.
Memorize the Declaration of Independence
As one of the United States’ founding documents, the Declaration of Independence outlines the values most important to Americans. For that reason, in my classroom, all students are required to memorize the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. To help students, I have created several activities to regularly expose them to the Declaration’s preamble throughout my American Revolution lessons. For example, each student creates their own Declaration of Independence, which requires them to write out the preamble. I also have an activity that encourages students to practice it at home each night. Memorizing a document can be boring, but incorporating fun tasks can make this one of the American Revolution activities students love!
Read American Revolution Books
Students are required to regularly read nonfiction and historical fiction as part of most ELA standards. So, why not include American Revolution books in your ELA time? My district limits the amount of time I have to teach history each day. Using books about social studies topics during my ELA block allows me to extend my time to teach history.
Some of my favorite American Revolution picture books include:
- John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith
- George vs. George: The American Revolution as Seen from Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer
- Let it Begin Here! by Dennis Brindell Fradlin and Larry Day
- Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There are also lots of great novels about the American Revolution. Here are some of my favorites:
- Woods Runner by Gary Paulson
- I Survived the American Revolution by Lauren Tarshis
Create an American Revolution Interactive Timeline
One thing my students struggle with when learning about the American Revolution is the sequence of events. There are a lot of dates and events for students to remember! To help solve this problem, I have created an American Revolution interactive timeline that students use as a center activity. The activity requires students to first match the events to the dates when they happened. Then, students must sequence the events in the correct order.
Use Fun American Revolution Activities to Review
I love to end all of my hands-on history units with fun review activities to help students retain all the information they have learned. Two of the American Revolution activities I use as part of my review are task cards and an escape room. Using task cards is a fun way to get students up and moving. I try to use a variety of questioning such as multiple answer and fill in the blanks. This can also be a great test prep activity by modeling questions to look like the types of questions they will see on state testing.
My students love escape rooms! I try to incorporate at least one classroom escape room into all of my hands-on history units, and my American Revolution unit is no exception! There are a lot of people and events for students to remember as part of this unit. So, I use my escape room to help them review all of those people and events. For more information about how I create escape rooms for social studies, check out my blog post on how to create the perfect classroom escape room.
Topics like the Stamp Act, Boston Massacre, and Declaration of Independence are some of my favorite things to teach in social studies! When teaching about these exciting events, there are many hands-on American Revolution activities you can use to make learning fun and help students retain the information. Most of the activities I have detailed here are easy to replicate in your classroom. But, if you are short on time, I’ve got you covered! I have created the following American Revolution teaching resources:
- American Revolution Unit
- Boston Massacre Investigation
- American Revolution Task Cards
- American Revolution Escape Room
I hope you and your students enjoy these American Revolution activities as much as my classes have! And, don’t forget to bookmark the Hands-On History page on my blog so that you don’t miss out on any of my tips and ideas for teaching American history! Next month, I will be sharing some hands-on ways to teach about the Constitution.
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