A rebellion, war, and liberation… these provide the perfect combination of ingredients to get students excited about history! In this post, you’ll discover 8 Virginia Studies American Revolution activities to help build that excitement.
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Stamp Act Simulation
One of the challenges with teaching Virginia Studies (or any history topic) is getting students to understand the lives and mindsets of people who lived during a time that is completely different from today. Simulation activities can be a great way to overcome this challenge. A Stamp Act simulation activity can be a great way to help students better understand the reasons why the colonists declared independence.
One way you can perform a Stamp Act simulation is by assigning students to the roles of king, tax collectors, and colonists. Each colonist is given the same amount of “money” which can be represented with candy or classroom economy money. The king decides what will be taxed and how much tax colonists owe. Then, the tax collectors collect the tax from each colonist.
Declaration of Independence Activities
Another way to help students understand the reasons for American independence is by having them memorize sections of the Declaration of Independence. Throughout a Virginia Studies American Revolution unit, incorporate games, worksheets, and foldables that expose students to excerpts from the Declaration of Independence.
Virginia Studies American Revolution Foldables
When teaching Virginia Studies, I am a big fan of using foldables. Foldables are a great tool for keeping students active during instruction and for helping them organize information.
There are several opportunities for using foldables during your Virginia Studies American Revolution lessons. For example, students can use foldables to organize information about famous Virginians who played important roles during the American Revolution.
Revolutionary War Field Trips
Virginia played a key role in the American Revolution. That means there are lots of great places to take students on a field trip as they study this unit. A few places that do a great job of covering topics related to the American Revolution include:
- Yorktown Victory Center (Yorktown): The site where the final battle of the Revolutionary War took place.
- Monticello (Charlottesville): The home of Thomas Jefferson.
- St. John’s Church (Richmond): The location where Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.
- Mount Vernon (Mount Vernon): The home of George Washington.
If your class is unable to visit these places, you can also take virtual field trips. Many of these historic sites offer images and videos on their websites that allow students to explore the sights and sounds of Virginia virtually.
We also have a video on my YouTube channel that highlights some of the significant places around Yorktown. You and students can see battlefields, the Revolutionary War Museum, and the cave where British forces hid during the siege on Yorktown.
Virginia’s Capitals Song
This Virginia Studies American Revolution SOL requires students to examine why the capital was moved from Williamsburg to Richmond. Incorporating music into Virginia Studies is a great way to engage students. I like turning the content into songs that match the tunes of popular songs that my students like. One of my student’s favorite Virginia Studies songs has to do with the reasons why the capital was moved.
American Revolution Books for Kids
If you’re like me, your time to teach Virginia Studies is limited. For that reason, I am always looking for ways to integrate Virginia Studies into other content areas.
A great way to do this is by using history-related books during your ELA time. I use a combination of picture books and novels when teaching my American Revolution unit. Some of my favorites to use as read alouds include:
I also use the following chapter books for novel studies:
Not all of these books take place in Virginia, but they can help students visualize why the colonists declared independence and the challenges they experienced when fighting the British.
Task Card Games
Task card games are a fun way to review before an end-of-unit test!
One of my favorite task card games to use at the end of my Virginia Studies American Revolution unit is a parking lot game. I turn all of my Virginia Studies American Revolution Task Cards upside down on a table. Students select a card, take it back to their seats, and respond to the card’s question on their answer keys. Then, students return their cards to the table and select a new one. Students continue to repeat this process until they have flipped over all of the task cards.
Time Travel Escape Room
In this escape room, students pretend to travel back in time to study life in Virginia during the American Revolution. While time-traveling, their time machine malfunctions. The only way to fix the time machine and return home is to complete several puzzles and challenges that incorporate math, ELA, and critical thinking skills. As soon as this escape room activity ends, students are always begging to do another one.
These are just a few American Revolution activities you can use to engage students and get them excited to learn about Virginia Studies. With these activities, your students will be excited to learn more about Virginia Studies each day!
If you’re short on time or could use some additional help planning your Virginia Studies American Revolution activities and lessons, everything listed here and more can be found in my American Revolution Unit and my Virginia Studies Curriculum Bundle. I also have pre-made American Revolution Task Cards and an American Revolution Escape Room that are great for an end-of-unit review or as a way to review before the Virginia Studies SOL test.
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