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George Washington, Battle of Trenton, & Betsy Ross Lesson

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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.


This is part 4 of a 6 part hands-on unit study on the American War for Independence. Make powder horns, cook hasty pudding, reenact the crossing of the Delaware and Battle of Trenton, paint the first American flag, and more! My lessons are geared toward 2nd-3rd grade level children and their siblings. These are lessons I created to do with a weekly homeschool co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 14 children between the ages of 0-12. Use these fun lessons with your class, family, or homeschool co-op group!


Introduction and Hasty Pudding

1. Stretch & pray.

2. Discuss Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8

3. As you point to each colony on your map, sing 13 Colonies Song (Tune: Yankee Doodle):

Virginia, Georgia, Delaware, and North Carolina;

Massachusetts, Maryland, and South Carolina.

Pennsylvania, New York,

New Hampshire and New Jersey,

Rhode Island and Connecticut:

These were the thirteen colonies!

YOU WILL NEED: Words printed off for the children to read & sing along

4. Begin making Hasty Pudding: Allow children to measure out the1 T. margarine, 2 1/2 cups milk, and 3/4 cup cornmeal and pour them into a saucepan. Turn the stove to medium heat and have a parent stay to stir it often for 15 minutes.

YOU WILL NEED: 2 1/2 cups milk, 2 eggs, saucepan, measuring cups & spoons, mixing spoon, 3/4 cup cornmeal, 1/2 cup molasses, 1/4 t. salt , and nonstick cooking spray


George Washington

*Note: George Washington's life will be covered in detail during a later lesson. Click here to see the lesson.*

5. Read George Washington by Garnet Jackson.

6. Discuss facts about George Washington. Let one child tape a miniature picture of Washington that has been pasted to a small square of blue construction paper to Virginia on the 13 Colonies map.

Scroll to Continue

YOU WILL NEED: above picture and tape

Book to use for activity 5


Yankee Doodle

7. Quickly discuss British setting NY on fire and General Howe blaming the Yankees

8. Sing "Yankee Doodle" while flipping through the book by Steven Kellogg.

9. Try hasty pudding with only milk and cornmeal (like soldiers would have eaten it). Let children break open 2 eggs and lightly beat. Then have them add the beaten eggs, 1/2 cup of molasses, & 1/4 t. salt to the cornmeal/milk mix. Place in a baking dish that's been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and bake at 300 for 45 minutes.

YOU WILL NEED: 12 spoons (Save these for eating the bakes hasty pudding.)

Book to use for activity 8

Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851), by Emanuel Leutze. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851), by Emanuel Leutze. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Crossing the Delaware and the Battle of Trenton

10. Look at famous painting of George crossing the Delaware. Read about Crossing of the Delaware from pp. 38-41 of George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer.

Book to use for activity 10

Crossing the Delaware reenactment

Crossing the Delaware reenactment

11. (Video record this.) Reenact Crossing of Delaware & Battle of Trenton. Use some of the words from Crossing the Delaware by Louise Peacock for reenactment.

-Have the Hessians on one side of the room with a Christmas Tree and a look-out with his drum. At first they are having a Christmas party. Have them sing a Christmas carol together and then they pretend to fall asleep.

-Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, George Washington and his men climb into a "boat" amid a snowstorm and quietly sail across the Delaware River. Use a blue blanket for the Delaware River, packing bubble wrap for ice, white paper balls for snow and sleet, and a large box with a paddle for boat.

-The Continental Army will quietly sneak into the Hessian camp and surround them. One of the Hessian soldiers will scream "Feind" (German for "enemy") and then the Hessians will hold up their arms and surrender.

YOU WILL NEED: Costumes and Props (Some ideas: blue blanket, packing bubble wrap, paper balls, a large box, a paddle for boat, a small Christmas tree, Christmas decorations, toy guns, a toy drum, blue coats/jackets/sweaters, etc.)

Book to use for activity 11

Painting the first flag adopted by the Continental Congress

Painting the first flag adopted by the Continental Congress

Betsy Ross and America's First Flag

12. Read The First American Flag by Kathy Allen or Red, White, and Blue by John Herman.

13. Using poster paint, paint the first flag adopted by the Continental Congress. Older children can paint the flag freehand. Younger children can paint a coloring sheet of the flag, which can be printed from .

YOU WILL NEED: 12 paintbrushes, 12 pieces of paper, smocks/old t-shirts to protect clothing, blue, red, & white paint, & something to cover the table

Book to use for activity 12

Daniel Morgan told his men to aim at the epaulets.

Daniel Morgan told his men to aim at the epaulets.

Daniel Morgan: Epaulets

14. Quickly discuss Battle of Freeman's Farm, Rangers, & Daniel Morgan.

15. Make epaulets. Daniel Morgan told his men to aim at the epaulets. Briefly mention what epaulets/epaulettes are. Show a picture of an epaulet from the book. Have the children make epaulets: Start with an 8-11" diameter circle. Fold it in half. Have the children cut 1" strips all around the round part. This will be the fringe. Open up the circle and cut it in half where it was folded so that you have 2 half circles. Fold the cut pieces of fringe upward. Turn the epaulet over. The straight end will be aligned to the neck opening. The “fringe” will hang down. Tape it to their shoulders using scotch tape. A second option would be to simply have 2 half-circles and then tape strips of yellow yarn to the underside of the yellow paper.

YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD: 8-11”diameter yellow/gold circle (cardstock works best but construction paper or wrapping paper will also work), scissors, scotch tape (or 2 safety pins), & 10-15 two-three inch strips of yellow yarn (optional)

Creating powder horns

Creating powder horns

Daniel Morgan: Powder Horns & Turkey Call Game

16. Show powder horn on p. 33 in Revolutionary Soldier: 1775-1783 by C. Keith Wilbur & describe it. Make powder horn by giving each child a 12 inch square of white poster board. Have them roll it into a cone shape. Tape it. Bend over the pointed top to be the lid for the horn. Have the children draw maps and write their name in black marker on their powder horns. As they do this, staple yarn to each side of the powder horn so they can wear it. Staple the yarn on the tip of the cone on the small end and on the inside of the cone on the wide end.

YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD: one 12-inch square of poster board, tape, markers, 1 20-inch piece of yarn, and for the group: staplers

Book to use for activity 16


17. If someone in your group owns a turkey caller, demonstrate turkey caller (used by Daniel Morgan to send orders). Give each child a party blower. This will be their turkey caller. "Daniel Morgan" calls his "soldiers" (the other children) using the party blower:

-One toot will mean to go to the kitchen (or corner 1) to "fight the red coats there."

-Two toots will mean to hide in the dining room (or corner 2) to "wait for the red coats there."

-Three toots will mean to go into the laundry room (or corner 3) to "fight the red coats there."

-Four toots will mean to hide in the room they are already in because "the red coats are coming there."

-The child playing Daniel Morgan will move to a different room so that no one can see him. Then he will blow his party blower. Each child gets a turn to be Daniel Morgan.

-If you have older children or are not limited by time, allow the child who is playing Daniel Morgan to decide what each toot will mean (i.e. one short whistle=go through the kitchen, 2 long whistles = go to the peach tree, etc.).

YOU WILL NEED:1 turkey caller (optional) & 1 party blower (the kind used at birthday parties) per child

18. Eat baked hasty pudding.

YOU WILL NEED PER CHILD:1 cup for water & 1 napkin

19. 5 Minute Review of what we learned: What did the soldiers eat frequently? (hasty pudding) Who was George Washington? What is the name of the river that General George Washington and his troops crossed on Christmas Eve? (Delaware) Were the Hessian army who were on the side of the British expecting George Washington and his troops during the Battle of Trenton? (No) Who won the Battle of Trenton (the Americans) Who do some people say sewed the first American flag? (Betty Ross) How many stars and stripes did it have on it? (13) What did each star and strip represent? (each colony) Does anyone know how many stars our current American flag has? (50) What do the 50 stars represent? (our 50 states) Does anyone know how many stripes our current American flag has? (It still has 13) What color are the stripes? (red and white) Who fought in the Battle of Freeman’s Farm? (Daniel Morgan) What did Daniel Morgan tell his men to aim for? (epaulets) What are epaulets? What did Daniel Morgan use to give orders to his men? (turkey caller) What was your favorite activity we did today?

More of our favorite books on George Washington

George Washington: Leading a New Nation (Graphic Biographies) by Matt Doeden was my boys' favorite. My children love this graphic (comic book style) series that is historically accurate and fun to read. As usual, it was one of the first books my children wanted to read. George Washington and the General's Dog (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3) by Frank Murphy is a cute picture book that describes the true story of General George Washington and his love of dogs and his integrity as he returned the runaway dog of British General William Howe. When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots by Lynne Cheney is a beautifully illustrated picture book on the crossing of the Delaware that all my children enjoyed. It is a great option if you want to read an entire picture book to the class. Other wonderful picture book biographies include George Washington: Farmer, Soldier, President by Pamela Hill Nettleton, George Washington by Ingri d'Aulaire & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire (a longer picture book), The Story of George Washington by Patricia A. Pingry (a board book great for toddlers and preschoolers), George Washington by Cheryl Harness (a very long picture book with gorgeous illustrations and filled with interesting, well-researched information and stories), and Farmer George Plants a Nation by Peggy Thomas.

More of Our Favorite Books on the Flag & Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross and the American Flag (Graphic History) by Kay Melchisedech Olson was our favorite book on Betsy Ross. It is historically accurate and is in comic book format. Red, White, and Blue (Penguin Young Readers, Level 3) by John Herman is an easy reader book that gives a general history of our flag. It is another good option to use to read aloud to a class to give a great overview of the history of our flag and what it symbolizes. Also look for Steck-Vaughn Stories of America: Flag for our Country by Eve Spencer, Our American Flag by Mary Firestone and Betsy Ross by Pamela Chanko.

Other Great Books We Read During This Lesson

King George: What Was His Problem?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the American Revolution by Steve Sheinkin is a 208 page chapter book with occasional illustrations. We read parts of this book through this unit. It does a great job of connecting the dots between all these events and does so in a very amusing, interesting format. Both my children and I learned a lot from this book! Nathan Hale: Revolutionary Spy (Graphic Biographies) by Nathan Olson is a 32 page graphic-novel format biography telling the life story of the Revolutionary War hero and spy Nathan Hale.

Singing the Declaration of Independence using a quill pen and homemade ink from Lesson 3: Lexington and Concord, Thomas Jefferson, and Declaration of Independence Lesson

Singing the Declaration of Independence using a quill pen and homemade ink from Lesson 3: Lexington and Concord, Thomas Jefferson, and Declaration of Independence Lesson

Make tricorn hats and mob caps, "brew" root beer with Samuel Adams, hold a tea party as you study the Boston Tea Party, reenact the Battles of Lexington and Concord, make ink and quill pens in order to sign the Declaration of Independence, cook hasty pudding, drill with Baron von Steuben as you study Valley Forge, write a secret code and seal it with wax as you study Benedict Arnold, present on the people of the American War for Independence, and more during this exciting unit study!

  • The Constitution and President George Washington Lesson - This a hands-on lesson plan on the the Constitution and President George Washington. Dance a minuet, cook and eat Nelly's Hoecakes, go on a “fox hunt,” make a Constitution tree, and more! This lesson follows my 6 part unit on the American War for Independence.
  • Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies - Looking for all of my lessons and unit studies? Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at the above link.

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Why Do You Think George Washington Was Such a Great General? - Or just let me know you dropped by. I love getting feedback from you! Thank you for visiting!

HeatherTodd1 on May 13, 2011:

Thanks for the Great article

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