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Colonial Period & Revolution Rumblings Lesson for Kids

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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

Hands on American History Lesson: Revolution Rumblings

Hands on American History Lesson: Revolution Rumblings

This is the 6th lesson in a series of 27 hands-on lessons covering American History through 1865. This lesson focuses on the Colonial Period & Revolution Rumblings. 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!

Cornmeal Molasses Rolls ready to rise

Cornmeal Molasses Rolls ready to rise

1. During the colonial period, children were frequently helping in the kitchen, so we're going to start with a baking activity. (This needs to be the first activity so it will be ready in time.) Note: If you don't have access to an oven, you can use a toaster oven in the classroom.


  • the below ingredients
  • a large mixing bowl
  • 2 glass measuring cups (for use in the microwave)
  • a wooden spoon
  • a round cake pan

Colonial Cornmeal Molasses Rolls

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast from a jar, (Yeast from a jar will rise better than yeast from a packet.)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (used after the rolls are baked)
  1. Make this recipe for every 8-12 children. This will make approximately 12 rolls. These are tasty, so you might want to double the recipe so they can take some home.
  2. Before class begins, bring 1 cup of water to a boil and have 1/4 of warm water ready. Preheat oven to 375F.
  3. Allow a child to take turns measuring out the yeast and combing it with the warm water. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Talking Points: Have the children smell the yeast. What does it remind them of? Yeast is actually alive, but it's sleeping. It needs the warm water and usually some food in the form of sugar, to wake up. Once it starts eating the sugar, it starts passing gas. This gas of carbon dioxide is what causes yeast breads and dough to rise.
  5. Pour the boiling water into a large bowl and have a child carefully add the cornmeal. Make sure they are careful to not get burned. Allow children to take turns carefully stirring until well mixed. (If you are concerned children might get burned, do this step yourself.)
  6. Talking Points: Have the children each taste some cornmeal. What does it taste like? What do you think it's made from? Corn! Corn is dried & then mashed into this fine flower. Cornmeal was so important to the colonists. Who might have helped the Pilgrims plant corn? (Squanto)
  7. Have children take turns adding the molasses, 3 tablespoons butter, and salt. Stir until butter is melted.
  8. Talking Points: Have the children taste molasses. Sugar was expensive, so many colonists sweetened foods with molasses. Have you ever seen brown sugar? That's sugar with molasses in it. We just added butter. Where does butter come from? It comes from milk from a cow. Children usually had the duty of beating milk around until it clumped together to form butter. Why would we add salt? It makes things taste better.
  9. Allow a child to break open the egg & then wash their hands. Another child can stir in the egg.
  10. Talking Points: You needed a cow for the milk. How would you get the eggs? From chickens! Always make sure to wash your hands after handling raw eggs because they might contain salmonella, which is a virus that can make you sick.
  11. Have the children take turns adding the flour and yeast mixture to the large bowl. Everyone gets a turn stirring & stabbing 10 times each. Then stir, stab, & flip vigorously while you talk (or you can knead it by hand).
  12. Talking Points: We need to mix up all the ingredients, especially the yeast. The best way to do that is to knead the dough. People usually knead the dough with their hands. You not only mix it up, but you flip it around. This allows for the flour to form a kind of glue called gluten, and it ensures the yeast gets spread all around.
  13. Spray each child's hands with no-stick cooking spray. Have them each grab a ball of dough & drop it in a 9-inch circular pie pan that's been sprayed with non-stick spray. The dough balls should be smaller than tennis-ball size. You should have 12-16 balls of dough.
  14. Put rolls in 375F oven for 30 minutes. (If you're not limited by time, allow rolls to rise for 30-45 minutes before placing them in the oven.)
  15. Allow children to wash their hands.
  16. After the rolls have baked, brush them with melted butter (or just drizzle melted butter over the tops).
Biography presentation on Patrick Henry

Biography presentation on Patrick Henry

Biography Presentation & Review

2. Biography presentation on Patrick Henry.

3. Review: Which colony was England's first successful colony? (Jamestown) 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) How did the British fight? (in a straight line while wearing bright red coats) How did the French & Indians fight? (hiding) Who won the French & Indian War? (British)

4. 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!

Tricorn hats & mob caps

Tricorn hats & mob caps

Colonial Clothing & Head Coverings

5. Point out the pictures of the clothing from Mary Geddy's Day: A Day in Colonial Williamsburg by Kate Waters (which we read 2 lessons ago).

  • Point out the wigs. During the colonial period, people thought older people had more wisdom, so they tried to appear more wise and respectable by having white hair. How do you think they would get white hair? (Allow children to guess.) Many of them wore wigs. To keep them looking nice and smelling nice, they’d also sprinkle white baby powder on them.
  • Point out the tricorn hats on the men in the book. Men and older boys would frequently wear tricorn hats. Tricorn is short for 3 sides. (If you have a tricorn hat, allow a boy child to model it.)
  • Point out the mob caps on the women in the book. Women did lots of work & couldn't wash their hair all the time, so they wore mob caps to keep their hair clean. They also thought it was more respectable to not show off much of their hair. (If you have a mob cap, allow a girl to model it.)


  • Mary Geddy's Day: A Day in Colonial Williamsburg by Kate Waters or pictures from online showing colonial clothing
  • a tricorn hat (I used the pirate hat from the Dollar Tree & remove the skull & crossbones sticker.) (optional)
  • a mob cap (I used these easy directions to make one.) (optional)

Scroll to Continue
Patrick Henry addressing the House of Burgess

Patrick Henry addressing the House of Burgess

Revolution Rumblings

6. The people living in the American colonies were starting to have their own types of cooking, their own types of clothing, & their own ways of life. Their lives were starting to look different from what life was like in England.

  • King George III was the king of England during this time. What has the king's name? (King George III)
  • Which war did we just learn about? Yes, the French and Indian War. After the French & Indian War, England told the American colonists, they weren't allowed to go past the Appalachian Mountains. (Point to where they would be on one oft the children's 13 Colonies Maps.) That land belonged to the Native Americans. The Native Americans might kill them if they tried to move onto that land and the British didn't want to have to send over a bunch more troops to protect the colonists. Do you think the colonists wanted to cross that line & get to that land, though?
  • Let's try it with you. [Move everyone into a small corner & make a line with chairs.] Would you all like to stay there or would you like to get away and spread out? The colonists wanted to spread out on the land too.
  • Then King George III agreed with the parliament over in England demanding the American colonists needed to help pay for the war. We'll talk more about that in the next lesson.

7. Just like what we read in the end of the book, Mary Geddy's Day: A Day in Colonial Williamsburg by Kate Waters, this made some colonists mad. One man in Boston, named Samuel Adams, said the colonists shouldn't be ruled by England and King George III anymore. Another man in Virginia named Patrick Henry felt the same way. Show the children the painting of Patrick Henry addressing the House of Burgess.

  • What do you see in this painting?
  • Which one do you think is Patrick Henry?
  • What did the artist do to make him stand out from everyone else?
  • Does he look happy or sad?
  • What do you think he's saying?
  • How are the people responding to what he's saying?
  • Have the children look at He said England was taking away

Patrick Henry is telling a group of politicians, the House of Burgess, in Virginia that they need to stop getting ruled by England because they are taking away their freedom. He uses the word liberty, which means freedom. In his speech he said, "Give me liberty or give me death." Then he pretended to stab himself in the heart with a letter opener.

  • Let's say that together, "Give me liberty..." [hold up your right arm] "or give me death." [pretend to stab yourself in the heart.]

As you can see in the painting, not everyone agreed with his idea...but pretty soon some of them will agree with his ideas. We'll learn about that in the next class.


  • the painting of Patrick Henry by Peter F. Rothermel (from online or from a book)
Cornmeal Molasses Rolls

Cornmeal Molasses Rolls

Rolls & Review

8. Allow children to each have a roll. They will still be warm, so some children might want to wait to eat it. I provided sandwich bags in case they wanted to save theirs for later.

9. Tell me something about what Colonial Americans ate that we ate today. (Cornmeal, molasses, rolls) Tell me something about the way the Colonial Americans dressed. (Wigs, tricorn hat, mob cap) Were some of the colonists upset with England after the French and Indian War? (Yes.) 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.")

10. Assign next week's student biography presentation on Paul Revere.

We read through huge stacks of books and these were our favorite (in addition to the book used in the lesson):

  • Patrick Henry: Liberty or Death (Graphic Biographies) by Jason Glaser
  • Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May? by Jean Fritz
  • The Liberty Tree: The Beginning of the American Revolution (Picture Landmark) by Lucille Rech Penner - Only read the first part as this book will be used for the next few lessons.
  • Liberty or Death: The American Revolution: 1763-1783 (American Story) by Betsy Maestro - Only read the first part as this book will be used for the next few lessons.
  • Revolutionary Rumblings (Chester the Crab's comics with content series) by Bentley Boyd
  • Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? by Jean Fritz
  • George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer - Only read the first part as this book will be used for the next few lessons.

Optional Homework Video: Watch Liberty Kids: Patrick Henry

Image credit: https://www.pinterest .com/carenmaguire/family-history-patrick-henry-and-beyond/

Image credit: https://www.pinterest .com/carenmaguire/family-history-patrick-henry-and-beyond/

Native Americans & Columbus Lesson
Jamestown Lesson
Pilgrims 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
Constitution Lesson
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
Fun, Free Hands-on Unit Studies (My Lessons in All Subjects)

© 2018 Shannon


Shannon (author) from Florida on July 19, 2018:

Thank you! I work hard at making learning experiences both engaging and enjoyable. I think it helps make the material more memorable.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 19, 2018:

I used to work in childcare and I really appreciate the variety of activities that you use in these lessons to engage the children's interest.

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