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War of 1812 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.

War of 1812 Lesson for Kids

War of 1812 Lesson for Kids

This is the 17th lesson in a series of 28 hands-on lessons covering U.S. American History through 1865. This lesson focuses on the War of 1812 & the Star-Spangled Banner. I used this plan while teaching a 45 minute history class for children in Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grades. Each lesson includes a biography report, history notebook page, history song, our favorite children's books, YouTube video, a history joke, & a variety of hands-on activities to make each lesson engaging & memorable. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, homeschool, after-school program, or co-op!

Student biography presentation on Dolley Madison

Student biography presentation on Dolley Madison

Student Biography Presentation: Dolley Madison

1. Student biography presentation on Dolley Madison

Review & Presidents Song

2. Review: What does the Constitution tell us? (rules for how America's government will run) How many branches are there in our government? (3) Can you name 1? (legislative, executive, judicial) Who can tell me something about our first president, George Washington? Who was the President at the time who purchased the Louisiana Territory? (Thomas Jefferson) What year did they buy it? (1803) Who was the Native American woman guide and translator who went with them? (Sacajawea)

3. Now let's go through all the Presidents. Sing through the entire song 2 times while either showing the video or flipping through pictures of the Presidents.

You will need:

  • Screen to show the below video or a book showing Presidents or point to their pictures on a President place mat

Presidents Song

Overview of the War of 1812

4. Flip through the pictures in A New Nation: The United States: 1783-1815 by Betsy Maestro as you summarize the main events of the War of 1812.

You will need:

  • A New Nation: The United States: 1783-1815 by Betsy Maestro or other book on the War of 1812
British soldiers giving weapons to the Native Americans

British soldiers giving weapons to the Native Americans

Causes of the War of 1812 Demonstration

5. Quickly review some of the main causes of the War of 1812.

  • Cause 1: England was stealing American sailors from their ships, stealing their cargo, & forcing the sailors to either die or join the British Navy (impressment).
  • Cause 1 Demo: Ask for 3 volunteers. Hand 2 red coats or tops to 2 of the children. They are the British soldiers. Have the 3rd volunteer pretend to be sailing his boat. The British soldiers stop him & tell him to give them the boat & join their navy...or die. He agrees. Give him a red coat or top.
  • Cause 2: Also, the British were giving weapons to some of the Native Americans in American & encouraging them to attack Americans.
  • Cause 2 Demo: Ask for 1 more volunteer & add a headband. He's a Native American. Hand the 3 British soldiers some toy guns & swords. They are the British soldiers. They should give the weapons to the Native American & say, "Use these to attack the Americans." He can pretend to sneak up on one of the children in the class & gently hit him with a toy sword (though you can skip that if desired).
  • Pick another volunteer to be President Madison. Hand him a black jacket if you have one. President Madison should say, "Enough, England! We declare war on you!"

You will need:

  • 3 red jackets or tops
  • toy weapons (guns & swords) or sticks to pretend to be weapons
  • headband or other generic Native American prop item
  • black jacket or other prop item to designate President Madison
Burning down the White House

Burning down the White House

Burning down the White House

6. During the War of 1812, the British soldiers set Washington, D.C. on fire & burned down the White House. Each of the children will get to be a British soldier. They used torches. We'll use mini-torches (matches). Hand each child a lit match & let them use it to burn a picture of the White House. (This won't burst into flames. It just slowly burns black holes or edges.) *Be sure to have ventilation so that the fire alarm doesn't go off. Also notify your principal or other adults so that they don't get concerned when they smell fire.

Scroll to Continue

You will need:

  • a picture of the White House (printed from online)
  • matches
  • a baking sheet (or other item that won't burn)

Star-Spangled Banner

7. While a lawyer named Francis Scott Key was aboard a British ship off the coast of Ft. McHenry, he wasn't sure if the American fort would survive the bombings from the British ships. He was so excited when the next morning when the sun rose. At the fort he didn't see a white flag of surrender. He saw the American flag was still waving. That meant the American army hadn't surrendered. He wrote a poem that is now our national anthem or song called Star-Spangled Banner. Let's sing the first verse. (They can add these to their history binders.)

You will need per child:

Coloring the Flags & Review

8. Allow children to color pictures of the 2 flags of the War of 1812 (the British flag & the Star-Spangled American Flag) and Francis Scott Key. Have children put these in their history notebooks.

You will need per child:

9. Review: What war did we learn about today? (War of 1812). Which 2 countries fought during the War of 1812? (England & America) Who was the President during this time? (James Madison) Why did American declare war on England? (impressment of sailors, British giving weapons to Native Americans) What happened to the White House during the war? (The British burned it down.) What famous song was written during this war? (Star-Spangled Banner) Who wrote it? (Francis Scott Key)

10. Assign next week's biography report on James Monroe.

We read through a large stack of books. In addition to the book used in this lesson, these were our top 7 favorites:

James Madison: 60-Second Presidents: PBS

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 August 04, 2018:

Yes, that is definitely true.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 04, 2018:

Yes, over the years much has been made of the 'special relationship' our two countries share.

Shannon (author) from Florida on August 03, 2018:

It's interesting looking at the past and seeing how times have changed. It's a blessing that the UK & America do get along so well together now.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 03, 2018:

As a Brit I find this lesson embarrassing reading. Thankfully our two nations get on better now.

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