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SENTRY JOURNAL » American History, American Revolution, Elementary School » Assignment: American Revolutionary War

Assignment: American Revolutionary War

Earlier in the week my wife asked me if I would like to come to her school and give a lecture to a 5th grade class about the American Revolutionary War.  They are finishing up their school year with this period of American History.  Well as most of you can already guess I jumped at the opportunity.

She brought me home their social studies book to look through.  I must say I was a bit disappointed.  From the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the surrender at Yorktown it ran about 20 pages.  I seem to remember my 5th grade history book’s coverage of the Revolutionary War was much more in-depth.  Their book touched on most of the major points, but only briefly.  I asked my wife how long I had them and how many kids were in the class?  She told me 15 kids for 30 minutes.  That’s not a great deal of time, but it is still time enough to make a difference.

So the best teaching approach I can think of is to use good solid visual aids.  I have a replica copy of the Declaration of Independence, a replica copy of a broadside that was used to call the militia to duty, and replica coins from the period.  I’m going to cover three main areas.  The crafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware and attack on Trenton, and lastly Valley Forge.  I chose Valley Forge because I actually visited it back in 2003 and have some pretty decent pictures, along with stories about the camp.  I also believe it was a turning point for our young army, because they emerged from their winter encampment a better trained force.  They became a professional army for the first time in the war thanks to Baron Von Steuben, a German military officer.

I would like to know if you fine people have any suggestions that you believe would improve the way I plan to deliver this lecture.  I’m sticking with the eye candy props, because I feel kids are visual creatures.  Other than that I’m open to any suggestions.  If you feel I should touch on different topics please let me know.  I have chosen these three areas of interest because I believe that they played a significant role in achieving our independence from England.

I believe this will be great experience, but also know how important it is.  At the end of the lecture, I’m going to give the kids the opportunity to sign the back of the replica copy of the Declaration of Independence I bring to class.  I’m hoping this will enhance their experience and help them understand the importance of the document.  My plan is to give it to the teacher at the end of the class with the signatures of her students on the backside of it.

Once again any help would be appreciated.

Liberty forever, freedom for all!


Filed under: American History, American Revolution, Elementary School

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  • TRESTIN MEACHAM May 6, 2010 at 3:58 AM

    Sounds like you have great subject matter, and some good methods. The one piece of advice I would give is: Make sure they understand how it impacts them. To often history is taught as a disconnect set of facts, children need to be taught what the American Revolution means to them.

  • John Carey May 6, 2010 at 5:21 AM

    Thanks Trestin. That's an excellent suggestion.

  • jeff mosiman May 6, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    John, Two other ideas: first, after having them sign a copy of the Declaration of Independence then give them the copy to hang in their room. It might make a big impact that they have a connection with the document and the founding of our country. Second, have them try to create their own Declaration of Independence. It might reinforce how special our founding fathers were and just tough it was to create a document, while duplicated many times over, has never had the success we have had with ours. Just some thoughts.


  • John Carey May 6, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    Thanks Jeff. I already plan to do that. I found a ballpoint pen in the shape of a quill and I'm going to let the kids sign it with that.