I apologize for my lack of writing lately! I think you know how it is. Things are so busy. I mean, SO busy.
I am currently trying to finish our unit on the Revolutionary War – I absolutely love this unit and I’m always sad to see it end! We always start the unit by talking about cause and effect, and how every event led to something else, and it all worked together to lead to the war, which led to the start of our country!
One of the things that we do to help keep track of the events leading up to the war is create a domino chart that allows the students to see the events in order. Setting up some dominoes and showing how they all knock each other down helps the students visualize how one event led to the next. We then cut out pictures of 12 dominoes and glue them on a piece of card stock. As we discuss certain events, such as the Stamp Act, Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, and 1st Continental Congress, we write them under the dominoes so the students have a flow chart of sorts.
Once the war starts and as we discuss each major battle and event of the war, we add it to a soldier and add the soldier to our timeline. We post these in the front of the classroom so that the students can refer to them throughout the month and really get a good idea of the order in which the events happened.
This was last year’s timeline. This year, they are colorful and posted above my white board. I got this pattern from a book about the Revolutionary War.
In order to teach each battle of the war, I present a PowerPoint that gives a brief overview of the 5W’s of each battle – who, what, where, when, and why – as well as the result of the battle. This is the most engaging way I have found to teach my kiddos and they always ask if we are doing another PP!
Every once in a while, I change it up and instead use more of a “story telling” technique by describing the battle or reading a story book about it. One of my favorites is “When Washington Crossed the Delaware” by Lynn Cheney. This is a beautifully-illustrated, well-written book that gives a tremendous overview of the Christmas Day battles of Trenton and Princeton.
My students really enjoyed this book. Afterwards, they had a really good grasp on what happened at these battles.
In order to keep track of each battle, we create “Battle Books” – using a piece of card stock folded into a book. Directions can be found on several websites, such as this one: http://library.thinkquest.org/J001156/makingbooks/minibook/index.htm. We actually end up making two and attaching them because there is so much to cover!
On each page of the book we write the name of the battle, the date, the people involved, and a 1 or 2 sentence overview of what happened, as well as the result. Halfway through the unit, I have them take their battle book home and teach their parents about the first half of the war. I send home a parent signature slip to verify that they were taught by their child. Of course I include a section for comments, and most parents write a comment about how impressed they are with their child’s knowledge and how much they learned! This is valuable for the kiddos because they are reviewing the information as well as describing it out loud. One parent even said that her child was able to answer all of the tough questions she asked him! Yeah!
I am proud of how hard my students have worked throughout this unit. It’s usually a favorite in 5th grade, despite the work involved. The students take their big unit test on the material on Thursday of next week – this is when I’ll truly be able to see how much they grasped from the unit! I feel like there is not necessarily a lot of memorization for this, but simply understanding of what happened! I know they will do well 🙂
Do you teach the American Revolution? What is your favorite activity to do with your kiddos for this topic?