Boston Massacre & Boston Tea Party Lesson for Kids
This is the 7th lesson in a series of 27 hands-on lessons covering American History through 1865. This lesson focuses on Trouble in Boston: Boston Massacre & Boston Tea Party. I used this plan while teaching a 45 minute history class for children in Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grades. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, homeschool, after-school program, or co-op!
Student Biography Presentation: Paul Revere
1. Student Biography Presentation on Paul Revere
Review & Introduction to Paul Revere
2. Review: When you hear Jamestown, who should you remember? (Pocahontas & John Smith) Who helped the Pilgrims at their Plymouth, Massachusetts colony? (Squanto) Eventually how many English colonies were founded in America? (13) The English & French got into a war. What was it called? (French & Indian War) Who won the French & Indian War? (British) What was the name of the king of England during this time? (King George III) What is Patrick Henry famous for saying? ("Give me liberty or give me death.")
3. Open your notebooks to your 13 Colonies map. Together sing 13 Colonies Song (Tune: Yankee Doodle) while pointing to each colony on your map.
New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, little Delaware…
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina
South Carolina, Georgia, thirteen colonies!
4. After the French & Indian War, Boston, Massachusetts was a busy city with a growing crowd of people who were resenting the laws that King George III was allowing the British Parliament to pass. One of those men was Paul Revere. Show Paul Revere by John Singleton Copley & quickly ask these questions based on the ones from p. 11 in the Picturing America Teacher's Manual:
- Try to look like Paul Revere with your hand on your face like he has. Why do you think the artist had Paul Revere pose that way?
- What is Paul Revere holding?
- Point to his 3 engraving tools. What do you think he used them for?
- Does he look like someone you'd trust or not trust and why?
You will need:
- a picture of the portrait Paul Revere by John Singleton Copley (from a book or online)
5. Paul Revere worked with silver, so he was called a silversmith. Back during the colonial period people didn't usually put their money in banks like we do today. They would bring their money to a silversmith & have it melted & made into silver items so it couldn't get stolen without it being obvious. If someone took a penny from you, no one would know because pennies look alike. If someone took a plate from you and it had horses engraved into the sides and had your name on the bottom, you'd be able to tell it was yours, wouldn't you? Also, having silver spoons, cups, pots, bowls, & more were more useful than carrying around a bag of silver. A silversmith had to be well-trusted. Paul Revere was well-trusted.
6. Quickly discuss silversmith terms:
- Engraving: Pass around a spoon or other item with engraving. Tell children that the handle has engraving, which means the silversmith carved into the silver & removed some of the silver to make the pretty designs.
- Embossing with Repousse ("ray-poo-say"): Pass around a coin or other item with embossing. Hold up a piece of aluminum foil & push under it to make a design form on the top side of the aluminum foil. When a silversmith embosses something with repoussee, that means they shape the design by hammering from the bottom side. That creates a design like what you see on that coin. They call it "low relief."
- Stamping - Demonstrate how a stamp (the kind used with ink) will stamp something on a paper. Pass around a silver pendent or other item that has a stamp in it.
You will need:
- a item such as a spoon that has engraving on it
- a metal item such as a coin that has low relief or an item that is embossed
- a stamp (the kind used with ink on paper) & a piece of paper
- a silver or metal item with a stamp on it (usually jewelry will have a stamp saying how many carets it is like 18K)
7. There are still teapots and other items around today that were made by Paul Revere. Unfortunately, I don't have one. If I did, I'd be really rich. I do have a picture of one, though. [Show a picture of a teapot created by Paul Revere.] This teapot was made by him & is in a museum. Ask these questions based on the ones from Picturing America. (The link is above next to activity 4.)
- What do you think this is? What is it used for?
- Why do you think the teapot has a wooden handle.
- Does it look plain or fancy? Why?
- Point to where you see engraving on the tea pot.
- Can you see anything that might have been made by embossing?
- [Show the portrait of Paul Revere again.] How are these 2 teapots different?
- Which one would you prefer to use? Why?
You will need:
- a picture of a teapot made by Paul Revere in 1796 (from a book or online)
Boston Massacre Introduction
8. Paul Revere also engraved copper plates that would be used to print pictures in newspapers. [Show his engraving of the Boston Massacre.] What does it look like is happening in the picture?
You will need:
- Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre (from a book or online)
9. Quickly summarize the events of the Boston Massacre as you flip through the pages of The Boston Massacre (Graphic History) by Michael Burgan. Be sure to mention in your summary that the colonists would call the British soldiers names like, "lobsterbacks" saying their bright red coats made them look like red lobsters.
You will need:
- The Boston Massacre (Graphic History) by Michael Burgan or other book on the Boston Massacre (Note: The pictures are small, so if you have a class size larger than 16, you might want to select a different book.)
Boston Massacre Reneactment
10. Reenact the Boston Massacre.
- Pass out red coats, jackets, etc. to the boys. They will be the British soldiers today. Hand each of them a toy rifle or gun. They are stand guard at the "Custom's House" (a chair). They are British soldiers & must stand straight, tall, and still.
- Pass out 3 pieces of white paper to each girl & tell them to crumple them up. The girls will be the townspeople of Boston and the paper balls will be their snowballs.
- Tell one of the girls to walk up to one of the soldiers, throw a snowball, & yell "Lobsterback."
- Tell one of the soldiers to GENTLY touch/"hit" the girl with his gun.
- Tell the girl to yell, "Help!"
- Now have all the girls rush over & yell, "Lobster backs! Go back to England! Go home! Leave us alone!" as they throw snowballs at the soldiers. [Be sure to remind the boys they are not allowed to move because they are British soldiers.]
- Ask which 3 girls would like to pretend to die.
- Tell one of the boys to pretend to shoot the 3 girl "colonists" & tell those 3 girls to fall on the ground & pretend to die.
- Everyone gets to throw the snowballs into the trashcan.
- Quickly put away the toy rifles & red coats.
You will need:
- red tops (jackets, fleeces, sweaters, etc.) for each boy
- a toy rifle or gun for each boy (I used mostly Nerf guns & water guns.) *Note: If you're teaching in a place that does not allow toy guns, use sticks or toy bats instead.
- 3 sheets of white paper for each girl
Colonial Tea Party
11. Host a tea party for the children. Use a metal or silver teapot if you have one.
- Tell the children that a tea party was a fun part of every day for the colonists & is still done today in England.
- Ask, "Who might have made a teapot for a tea party in Boston?" [Paul Revere, a silversmith]
- Serve cool sweetened tea along with pound cake or cookies & sweetmeats (dried fruits & nuts)
- Tell the children that during the colonial period, they would drink tea and eat sweetmeats, which are what they would call dried fruits (like raisins) and nuts.
You will need:
- cooled, sweetened tea
- a teapot (optional)
- "Colonial" sugar cookies or pound cake
- nuts (not peanuts)
- dried fruit (like raisins)
- cups & plates (I used breakable teacups & saucers but you don't have to)
Boston Tea Party
10. Show a picture of the Boston Tea Party while quickly summarizing what happened. Be sure to mention that Samuel Adams was leading the group called the Sons of Liberty, and Paul Revere was participating. Paul Revere knew if they got caught doing this, they might go to jail, but he remained courageous by remembering Bible verses such as Psalm 35:1-3: Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid. Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to me, “I am your salvation.”
You will need:
- a picture of the Boston Tea Party (I used pp. 24-25 from the book George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer.)
11. Dress up the children as poorly disguised Mohawk Indians by painting the faces with a few streaks of face paint (or lipstick or eyeliner). Hand out paper headbands, each of which have a feather attached to them. They are now the Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawk Indians.
You will need:
- black or red face paint, lipstick, or eyeliner to use to draw a few streaks on the cheeks of each of the children.
12. Reenact the Boston Tea Party.
- Each table will be a ship. If you have a small class, you can just use 1 ship. If you have a larger class, you can use 3 tables to represent the 3 ships of tea that were in the harbor that night.
- On each table place some "chests" of tea, enough so that each child will be able to get one.
- Have one child act as Samuel Adams. He will give the secret signal. He will repeat after me, "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country." Quickly tell the children that in real life, Samuel Adams didn’t actually go on the ships and dump out the tea, but we’ll let [child’s name] go on board the ship after acting like Samuel Adams.
- At that point all of the children, who are the Sons of Liberty, will then QUIETLY climb on the tables to "board the ships." Remind them to stay quiet so they don't arouse the attention of the British soldiers...or hear their voice and be able to identify who they were.
- Have them dump out a chest of tea onto the floor, which we'll pretend is the "Boston Harbor."
- Quietly get off the ships & pretend to pull out your pockets to show you're not stealing any tea.
- Once the reenactment is over, have the children help to collect the teabags & put them in a larger container.
You will need:
- a chest of tea for each child (I bought multiple boxes of 100 count teabags at the Dollar Tree. I divided each tea box into 3 "chests": 1/3 stayed in the original box, 1/3 went in a plastic pencil box, & the last 1/3 went in a plastic pencil box.)
13. Review questions: What job did Paul Revere have? (silversmith) What is something he might make? (tea pot, spoon, etc.) What is something he might do to make a silver spoon or teapot fancier? (engrave, emboss, stamp) What happened at the Boston Massacre? (Colonists were teasing British soldiers. A soldier shot into the crowd & killed 3 colonists.) What happened during the Boston Tea Party? (The Sons of Liberty, lead by Samuel Adams, dumped tea from ships into the Boston Harbor because they didn't want the colonists to buy the tea & pay the "unjust" taxes on the tea that King George III of England had allowed the British Parliament to enforce & collect.)
14. Assign next week's student biography report on Thomas Jefferson.
A Picture Book to Read Each Day
We read through many children's picture books, and these were our favorites (not including the books used in the lesson):
- Joining the Boston Tea Party by Diane Stanley
- Samuel Adams: Patriot and Statesman (Graphic Biographies) by Matt Doeden
- Why Don't You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? by Jean Fritz
- John Adams and the Boston Massacre (Graphic Heroes of the American Revolution) by Gary Jeffrey
- You Wouldn't Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party!: Wharf Water Tea You'd Rather Not Drink by Peter Cook
- For Liberty: The Story of the Boston Massacre by Timothy Decker
- Boston Tea Party (Graphic History) by Matt Doeden
Optional Homework: Memorize this song about the Boston Tea Party
Liberty Kids: Boston Tea Party
Joke: What kind of tea did the American colonists thirst for?
Looking for all of my American History Lessons?
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American History lessons can be found at https://hubpages.com/education/TeachingAmHistory .)
Native Americans & Columbus Lesson
Thirteen Colonies Lesson
French and Indian War Lesson
Colonial Period & Revolution Rumblings Lesson
Boston Massacre & Boston Tea Party Lesson
First Shots & Declaration of Independence Lesson
American War for Independence Battles Lesson
Valley Forge & Battle of Yorktown Lesson
American Literature Lesson & American War for Independence Review
Colonial Christmas Party
Three Branches of Government Lesson
President George Washington Lesson
Louisiana Purchase Lesson
War of 1812 Lesson
Monroe Doctrine Lesson
Trail of Tears Lesson
Oregon Trail & Battle of Alamo Lesson
California Gold Rush & Pony Express Lesson
American Industrial Revolution Lesson
Underground Railroad Lesson
Abolitionists & Women Suffragists Lesson
Civil War: The Confederate States & Abraham Lincoln Lesson
Civil War Battles Lesson
Civil War Party & End of Year Review Game
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