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  • The American Revolution plays a key role in the understanding of the history of the United States. The goal of this unit is to encourage the students to ask questions and inquire about certain events surrounding the American Revolution. This process enables students to gain key perspectives on justice, rights, and responsibilities. In addition, the students will learn about what it means to be free, or if such a word even exists, in comparing the rights that people had before, during, and after the American Revolution. This unit will hopefully serve as a bridge between the teaching of one single viewpoint of the past and the current belief that history should be taught from multiple viewpoints.
concept map
Concept Map

4th of July – end of unit party

Monarchy vs. Democracy

American Revolution

Declaration of Independence

Taxation: Now and Then

Causes and Effects of the American Revolution

The Geography of the American Revolution

essential driving questions
Essential/Driving Questions
  • Why do people revolt?
  • Why do we have government?
  • What is freedom?
enduring understandings
Enduring Understandings
  • Differences between a democracy and a monarchy
  • Rights and freedoms that we have now
  • People revolt or rebel when their rights or freedoms are not protected
assessment strategies
Assessment Strategies
  • Re-enact monarchy
  • Written response for the simulation activity
  • Biography
  • Draw a picture of an event
  • Class book of the American Revolution
  • Sequencing of important events
integrating socially phases
Integrating Socially Phases
  • Phase 1: Tuning In
    • Monarchy vs. Democracy simulation

Lesson Plan:


approximately one week


Students will be involved in a simulation that mimics the unfairness of some monarchy governments.

ISBE Standard:

16.B.2b (US) Identify major causes of the American Revolution and describe the con­sequences of the Revolution through the early national period, including the roles of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

NCSS Standard:

Power, Authority, and Governance

Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.

lesson plan continued
Lesson Plan continued


Coins, stickers, stars, etc.


In this simulation, the teacher becomes the king/queen of the classroom. He/She will make up the rules, collect taxes, and order “subjects” to perform tasks with no input from the students.

In the first phase, the teacher will require the students to do routine classroom things. Students will abide by the normal classroom rules. Additionally, they will receive “money” for doing normal classrooms jobs that can be used at the end of the week for certain items or rewards.

In the second phase, the teacher will become more restrictive and begin adding rules without input from the students. He/She will begin collecting taxes from the students. The taxes will be somewhat reasonable.

In the third and final phase, the teacher will become very restrictive and unfair. He/she will begin taking things away from the students (recess, group time, free time). They will begin adding more rules and collecting more taxes. Teachers might even consider “privileging” some students and “oppressing” others.

At this point, students will hopefully begin to recognize the unfairness going on in the classroom and stage a “revolt.”

Examples of reasons to collect taxes:

       * to go to the bathroom * for wearing certain types of clothing (blue shirts, gym shoes)

       * to go to recess * for having certain characteristics (brown eyes, long hair)

* for not raising your hand

Examples of additional rules:

* using king/queen to address the teacher * no drawing or coloring

       * no recess * bowing before the king/queen

lesson plan continued1
Lesson Plan continued


Students will write in the journals daily about the events taking place in the classroom. Also, after the simulation is over, the class will discuss their feelings about what happened and make a list of how it felt to live in a classroom monarchy.


It is a good idea to send a note home to parents before doing this simulation. Parents should be notified in case students become upset about the unfairness in the classroom. Also, all students should be told that this is only a simulation and it will only take place for a week. After this week, students will be treated fairly again. This simulation could be very upsetting for students will emotional disabilities. These students will most definitely need to be notified of the events before they occur. They could be used as “loyalists” and not be subjected to the same treatment as the other students. Those students who have trouble expressing themselves through written work could draw a picture of their feelings during the simulation. Those students who have trouble expressing themselves orally could choose to have their journals read during whole class discussions.

integrating socially phases1
Integrating Socially Phases
  • Phase 2: Preparing to Find Out
    • What is a King?
      • As a whole class, the students will brainstorm of known kings and qualities of kings. This will be tied to the colonial times and how the colonists may have felt about their king.
      • Show movie, Disney’s Robin Hood
      • Students will write a journal entry following the whole class discussion. The students can then draw a picture of a king (i.e. King Henry, Martin Luther King, Lion King, Burger King, etc.)
integrating socially phases2
Integrating Socially Phases
  • Phase 3: Finding Out
    • The students will read the story, The Boston Tea Party, and explore the ideas and concepts surrounding the book. The students will re-enact the story.
    • The teacher will introduce the word, “revolt,” and discuss possible explanations for why the colonists revolted against their king.
    • As a minilesson, the students will discuss the Native Americans’ role in the Boston Tea Party.
integrating socially phases3
Integrating Socially Phases
  • Phase 4: Sorting Out
    • The students will choose one of four books: Revolutionary War on Wednesday, Katie’s Trunk, George the Drummer Boy, or Sam the Minuteman. In small groups, the students will read their selected book and then present the book to the rest of the class.
    • The students will also learn and perform the poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” and will create an art project afterwards.
integrating socially phases4
Integrating Socially Phases
  • Phase 5: Going Further
    • Biographies
      • The teacher will work with small groups to investigate famous people of the American Revolution time period. Examples include: Phyllis Wheatley, Benjamin Banneker, Betsy Ross, George Washington
      • The class will discuss these individuals’ roles in the Revolutionary time period.
      • The students will present these biographies to the whole class through skits, mobiles, written reports, posters, etc.
integrating socially phases5
Integrating Socially Phases
  • Phase 6: Making Connections
    • Foreshadowing Other Revolutions
      • Discuss the phrase, “All Men Created Equally.” For instance, what groups or minorities were left out in the concept of the word “men.” Examples: women, Native Americans, African Americans, and so on.
      • As a writing prompt, the students will write in their journals about what it means to be free or if that word even exists today. Then, as a class, the students can create a list of their ideas surrounding the word freedom.
integrating socially phases6
Integrating Socially Phases
  • Phase 7: Taking Action
    • The Declaration of Independence
      • What was the purpose in writing the Declaration of Independence? What was the need? How should people live their lives? What would happen if there were no laws or rules?
      • As a whole class, touch on these essential questions, possibly generating a list of why the students believe that this important document exists.
  • Revolutionary War on Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Katie’s Trunk by Ann Turner
  • George the Drummer Boy and Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley
  • The Boston Tea Party by Pamela Duncan Edwards
  • Students with difficulty sitting still during classroom discussions or stories can hold onto a stress ball or silly putty in order to release extra energy and prevent the student(s) from distracting others.
  • Students from non-American cultural backgrounds can choose to incorporate pieces of their own country’s history in the biography portion of the unit. Rather than selecting a person from the American Revolutionary time period, the student(s) can choose an individual during the same time period, but from their country.
  • During the re-enactment parts of the unit, students who are overcome with shyness or “stage fright” can opt to be the “director” rather than an actor/actress.
  • As an extension for gifted students, they could do a report on a famous king for extra credit. They would have to describe in their paper the characteristics that make them a king, how they became king, and their duties to their country. Compare and contrast their king and the king of the Revolutionary War.