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American Revolution/Revolutionary War Lesson Plans

Updated on June 19, 2013
Rosie writes profile image

Rosie was an elementary school teacher for 13 years, teaching grades 3-5. She is now a Library Media Specialist in an elementary school.


The lesson below is designed for 4th grade, using 4th grade SOL standards. The lesson can easily be adapted to higher grade levels that overlap with Virginia history. The subject of 4th grade social studies for my lesson plan was chosen for a few different reasons. Fourth grade social studies, Virginia history, is loaded with tons of facts and historical data. SOL questions today not only expect students to recall these facts, but to make answer choices that require making new connections as well. Another reason I chose this topic, is that I do not teach social studies, and I felt the time spent preparing this lesson would help me to approach it more easily in the future, as a librarian. Next, I chose my lesson plan topic based upon feedback given by a 26 year veteran teacher of 4th grade social studies. She felt that the American Revolution was a very “meaty” topic, and students would benefit from the extra time spent on this topic in the library.

Collaborative Lesson Plan

Grade: 4th grade, 3-5 classes

Teachers: 3-5 fourth grade teachers

Content Topic: The American Revolution and the Revolutionary War.

Learning Objectives: Students will be able to give details explaining what life was like during the American Revolution, and will understand the roles different people played during this time. Students will be able to describe the causes that led up to the Revolutionary War.

Virginia Standards of Learning

SOL Standards: Colonization and Conflict: 1607 through the American Revolution

VS.5 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the role of Virginia in the American Revolution by:

a) identifying the reasons why the colonies went to war with Great Britain, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence;

b) identifying the various roles played by whites, enslaved African Americans, free African Americans, and American Indians in the Revolutionary War era, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Lafayette;

c) identifying the importance of the Battle of Great Bridge, the ride of Jack Jouett, and the American victory at Yorktown.

AASL (American Association of School Librarians) Standards for the 21st Century Learner


1.1.2 Use prior and background knowledge as context for new learning.

2.1.5 Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and solve problems.


1.2.7 Display persistence by continuing to pursue information to gain a broad perspective.

3.2.3 Demonstrate teamwork by working productively with others.


1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within the learning community.

Self-Assessment Strategies

1.4.3 Monitor gathered information, and assess for gaps or weaknesses.

2.4.3 Recognize new knowledge and understanding.

Plan of Action for Lesson Plan

Date/Time of Lesson: This lesson is designed for fourth grade classes, each having their class time on one day of the week.

Estimated Lesson Length: Each class will last 45 minutes. This lesson will take 3 class sessions to complete, totaling 3 weeks for all of fourth grade.

Resources Students Will Use: Students will use an online database, a complete set of classroom novels (one per child), and several selected chapter books and picture books.

List of Resource Titles:

Online database:

Video titled “The American Revolution” by Kids Discovery Series

Class novel sets of Fact Tracker American Revolution, Magic Tree House series

Picture Books: Unite or Die, Boston Tea Party, Everybody’s Revolution, Colonial Voices Hear Them Speak, 1776 A New Look At Revolutionary Williamsburg, George Washington’s Breakfast.

Novels: The Keeping Room by Anna Myers, The Fighting Ground by Avi, and George Washington’s Socks by Elvria Woodruff.

Instruction and Activities for Lesson Plan

Direct Instruction:

Prior to the first lesson, students will have read the Magic Tree House book #22:

Revolutionary War on Wednesday. They will have read these books in small reading groups, accompanied by guided reading discussions, and will have completed reading contracts for their teachers. Students will also have been introduced by the librarian, to several novels and picture books that they could choose to read while in class. The teacher will have been given these books a few weeks prior to the first library lesson.

1st Lesson: The librarian will begin the lesson with questions about the American Revolution. The librarian will have each student write one question they have on an index card and then she will ask those who would like to share, to read their questions aloud.

Students will each be given a Magic Tree House Fact Tracker American Revolution book. Students will be introduced to the book as a resource and will be given a few minutes to skim through it. Modeling and Guided Practice: Students will be guided to search through the index section of the book to find the topic that relates to their one question. The librarian will model this with a question of her own. Students who find their answers will record them on their index cards and share. Students will use these cards for bookmarks and if they cannot find the answer today, they will be able to answer it later, after visiting other resources.

Independent Practice: Students will be given paper to create an idea web, listening for important details as the librarian reads aloud Chapter 1. Afterwards, students will be given a chance to record a few important details for Chapter 1 on their web and will be asked to share aloud what they have recorded. Students will read chapter 2 in pairs in a comfortable space somewhere in the library, returning back to the tables for record more details on their webs, once they have finished reading chapter 2. The librarian will circulate ensuring that all students are on task.

Sharing and Reflecting: The librarian will ask students to share their chapter 2 details. Students will then be asked to predict what chapter 3: Trouble Begins, will be about. This will conclude today’s lesson.

Students will continue with this assignment in class with the guidance of their teachers over the next few days.

2nd Lesson: The librarian will ask students to name reasons the Revolutionary War occurred based on what they have read and learned in class so far. Students will be introduced to the online database, Modeling and Guided Practice: Students will be shown on the document projector, how to search this database. The librarian will model reading the information for one of the causes displayed, and will model summarizing the information given, explaining the main reason the cause attributed to the Relutionary War.

Independent Practice: Students will be put into groups of 3-4 and be given time to access the online database. Each group will be given a topic for the cause of the Revolutionary War. Students will be given the task of stating the main facts from their search that show reasons attributing to the Revolutionary War. Students will summarize their findings on looseleaf paper.

Sharing and Reflecting: Groups will present their findings in chronological order.

3rd Lesson: As a culminating activity, students will watch the video, The American Revolution by Kids Discovering History. This is an engaging video that will help students remember and reflect on all they have learned. Sharing and Reflecting: Students will work with a partner to write a 1-2 sentence review of the video, and will share their thoughts at the end of class.


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