For use with Revolutionary War on Wednesday and Magic Tree House Research Guide: American Revolution
Much more than a revolt against unfair taxation by the British, the American Revolution was a fight for independence in the name of certain universal principles such as rule of law, constitutional rights, and popular sovereignty. Ask students to define freedom and what it means to be free. What freedoms were fought for in the American Revolution? What do they know about key figures like George Washington and Paul Revere. What do they know about events like the Boston Tea Party or the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Tell students they will learn more about this war, these people and events, and much more in this guide.
Many colonists lived on farms and grew their own food. List the kinds of vegetables and grains cultivated and the kind of game colonists hunted for meat. Jack and Annie’s Hasty Pudding and other traditional foods from the colonial period offer hands-on (and sumptuous!) opportunities to gain an understanding of fractions through measurement. The following recipe for Johnny Cake may be prepared by small groups with supervision. After baking, finished cakes may be divided into halves, quarters, etc. for distribution and enjoyment. Yum!
3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup sweet milk
1/4 cup melted shortening
Sift flour with baking soda, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Stir in cornmeal. Combine eggs, vinegar, milk, and shortening. Pour into a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Stir until smooth and moist. Turn into a greased 8" x 8" x 2" baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 30—35 minutes. Let cool before cutting. May be topped with molasses and butter.
Check out other recipes for gingerbread and holiday wassail at www.history.org/Almanack/life/food/ginger.cfm
A Flag for Our Times
While there was no official flag during colonial times, each one served as a symbol to represent the original 13 colonies of America and the freedom to be found there. Study the different flags Jack and Annie display in this guide. What shapes and images and colors do they use? What are these images intended to symbolize? Did any of these flag designs borrow anything from the British Union Jack? Using paper, crayons, or paints, design your own flag to represent the colonies. Choose images that you feel represent, or symbolize, the spirit of America.
A Different Field of Battle
Many men died in battle during the Revolutionary War, but even more died battling exposure, hunger, and disease. Using library or Internet resources, research the infectious diseases and maladies that plagued American Revolution troops. What were the conditions that caused frostbite and sources that spread typhus, small pox, and malaria. What were the symptoms of each? Discuss the importance of hygiene, vaccines, and antibiotics in the prevention and treatment of such diseases today.
By examining literature of a specific period, readers can develop a picture of what life was like in a particular time and place. Share with your students, Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving, the story of a henpecked husband who sleeps through the entire Revolutionary War in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. How do the descriptions of the homes, professions, weaponry, and clothing tell us this story takes place in the late 18th century? What actual historical events and personalities does Irving include? How have things changed in Rip’s town and in America after he returns 20 years later?
Using library and Internet resources (http://www.hudsonvalley.org/education/Background/abt_irving/abt_irving.html), have students learn more about the life of Washington Irving and how his background and experiences led to the writing of Rip Van Winkle.
Write a story about a modern-day Rip Van Winkle who wakes up 20 years from now. How old would she or he be? What kinds of changes would she or he find in her or his hometown and the world at large?
Separate your students into small groups. Have each prepare five questions for mock interviews with one of the men and women of the Revolution given star status in this guide. Select a student from each group to play the role of their key figure and answer questions posed.
Then, separate your students into staff members of two Colonial newspapers: The Patriot Press, written by those who wanted to fight the British, and The Tory Times, written by those who wished to remain loyal to Britain. Have them prepare editorials on selected interviews as a means of supporting their positions on the war and independence.
Prepared by Rosemary B. Stimola, Ph.D. She is a teacher of Children’s Literature at Hostos Community College/City University of New York and serves as educational and editorial consultant to publishers of children’s books.