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 1 of a 6 part hands-on unit on the American War for Independence. Make tricorn hats and mob caps, "brew" root beer with Samuel Adams, bake cornmeal molasses rolls, 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, homeschool co-op group, after school program, or camp!
Introduction and Cornmeal Molasses Rolls
1. Stretch & pray. Discuss Deuteronomy 31:6.
2. Begin making Cornmeal Molasses Rolls. (Each group will make the recipe below, so we'll be making 3 batches of the rolls.) While making these rolls, briefly mention:
- how cornmeal was ground up corn & corn was introduced to settlers by the Native Americans
- molasses. Make everyone try some. Regular sugar was VERY expensive and reserved for only special occasions. Molasses was the most common way to sweeten foods.
- how yeast works Make sure everyone smells the yeast.
- In Colonial homes, Saturday was when a week's supply of bread was made by the women of the house. They baked it over an open fire like our fireplace or in a brick oven.
Cornmeal Molasses Rolls
1/4 cup warm water
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted (used after the rolls are baked)
Combine warm water and yeast in a small bowl. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Set aside. In a large bowl combine boiling water and cornmeal, stirring constantly until well mixed. Add molasses, 3 tablespoons butter and salt. Stir until butter is melted. Stir in egg; mix well. Add flour and yeast mixture to the large bowl. Stir until soft dough forms. Turn dough onto well-floured surface (i.e. wax paper with flour sprinkled over it). Knead with well-floured hands until ball forms (1 to 2 minutes). (Dough will be sticky.) With well-floured hands, grab handfuls of dough and roll into 16 balls. Place balls into well greased 9-inch round baking pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until double in size (30 to 45 minutes).
YOU WILL NEED PER GROUP OF 4-6 CHILDREN: 1 large & 1 small mixing bowl, measuring cups & spoons, 1 liquid measuring cup, mixing spoon, baking pan, 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/4 cup molasses, 3 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 egg, 3 cups all-purpose flour
3. Introduce the 13 Colonies using a large map that shows the colonies. You can say something like:
-In November we learned about the first European settlers who came to America. What can you remember about the settlement of Jamestown?
-After Jamestown, another colony was established at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Who were these people? (the Pilgrims) What do you remember about the Pilgrims?
-Today we are going to learn about a war that took place here in America. Many years have passed since the Pilgrims arrived in America. By 1750 (a little over 100 years after the Pilgrims arrived) there were more than one million people living in America. Small farms, villages, plantations, and four busy cities--Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Charles Town (now Charleston, South Carolina) developed. (Point to the general area of these cities on the map.) The people of America lived along the Eastern coast of America from Maine to Georgia (Point to the area on the map.) Why do you think they lived along the Atlantic coast? (They arrived from Europe by crossing the Atlantic Ocean.)
-Even though the colonists came from many countries in Europe, they still had strong ties to England. The people who lived in America followed the rule and orders of the king of England. We are going to see how the people of America decided to break away from the rule of England.
-Show the map of the thirteen colonies. Say: These are the original colonies of America. All the people who came from Europe to live in America lived in this region. We call this area the original thirteen colonies because these were the first colonies of our country. Later, we called these colonies the United States of America.
4. As you pint 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!
TEACHER/FAMILY 1: YOU WILL NEED: Words printed off for the children to read & sing along
5. Read book about colonial period: Mary Geddy's Day: A Day in Colonial Williamsburg by Kate Waters
Boys' Wigs and Tricorn Hats
6a. Make head coverings: Boys make wig & tricorn hat
Back in the days of 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. Let’s make some white wigs.
-Have moms place the white batting/towels on their children’s heads. Have them use the ribbon to tie the tail of the wig.
-Walk around and sprinkle a little bit of baby powder on each wig.
TEACHER/FAMILY 4: YOU WILL NEED: baby powder (brought by you), 1 piece of cloth ribbon per child (each about 6 inches long) (brought by families), and 1 white “wig” per child (brought by families)
You can follow these directions.. Talk a little bit about colonial-style hats. You can say something like: Most adults wore hats. The style they wore was called “tricorn.” [Show an example of a tricorn hat – which is the same as a pirate hat.] (They had 3 corners.) They were usually made from beaver felt, the fur of a beaver. Who remembers hunting for beavers and trading for the beaver felts/skins when we learned about the Dutch Settlers? Those beaver felts/skins were used to make these tricorn hats. We’re going to have to use our imaginations a little bit because we’re not going to be able to include the tops of the hats.
-Have the moms/teachers help to staple the 3 corners of their felt pieces together to create a hat to fit over the wig.
TEACHER/FAMILY 1: YOU WILL NEED: a pirate hat, staplers (brought by families), and per child: 3 black 9"x3" strips of black craft foam (preferred) or black construction paper cut out using the pattern found on p. 13 of coreknowledge.org (preferred) OR simply cut them into 9”x3” strips (brought by families)
(My note: These are not going to last. If possible, try to find pirate hats at the dollar store or find cowboy hats and use a hot glue gun to hold together the corners to make them into tricorn hats. They will be using these hats again over the next few lessons.)
Girls' Mob Caps
6b. Girls make mob caps. You can follow these directions.
TEACHER/FAMILY 2: YOU WILL NEED: 5 20x20 inch pieces of paper, 5 20x20 inch pieces of cloth, ribbon, hole punches, 5 pairs of scissors that can cut through cloth, hot glue guns (optional), 5 pieces of lace (optional)
King George III
7. Teacher/Mom 3 will put rolls in 375F oven for 30 minutes.
8. King George III: First, I need to select someone to be the king. Select one of the older children who will be able to recite lines to be King George III. Remove their tricorn hat and place a crown on his/her head. Have the child sit on a “throne” (a chair that has a blanket or sheet draped over it). Situate the child so that s/he can still see the pictures in the book. Tell the child that they will repeat some lines after you. Read some of Can't You Make Them Behave King George? by Jean Fritz. Whenever King George III in the book says something or does something, the child will repeat the words or actions.
TEACHER/FAMILY 3: YOU WILL NEED: at least a crown and any other royal regalia you have (robe, scepter, etc.) along with a sheet or other item to cover the chair to make it look like a throne
9. Quickly discuss: Who was King George III? What items were taxed? (Molasses was one!) Why did the British tax the colonists? Why did the taxes make the colonists mad?
10. Select one child to will tape on the England map a miniature picture of King George III that has been pasted to a small square of red construction paper.
TEACHER/FAMILY 4: YOU WILL NEED: the above picture and tape
11. Get a visit from Patrick Henry. Have a mom dress up like Patrick Henry. Recount Patrick Henry' life as if you are Patrick Henry. (Background reading for mom: Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May? by Jean Fritz.)
TEACHER/FAMILY 3: YOU WILL NEED: Costume items to dress up as Patrick Henry (I wore a blouse, vest, tight pants pulled up to just below knees, tall white socks or stockings pulled up to below knees, black shoes, a pirate tricorn hat, hair pulled back in low ponytail, and a stick horse.)
Looking for a Chapter Book on Patrick Henry?
I read Patrick Henry: Voice of Liberty by William Percival Jones with my oldest son. It has drawings every few pages and is written in an interesting manner. Even though it's out of print, it is worth hunting down and adding to your collection.
12. Discuss a few facts about Patrick Henry. Select one child to tape on the Virginia colony on the Thirteen Colonies map a miniature picture of Patrick Henry that has been pasted to a small square of blue construction paper.
TEACHER/FAMILY 4: YOU WILL NEED: tape and a miniature picture of Patrick Henry that has been pasted to a small square of blue construction paper
13. Quickly show the painting of Patrick Henry giving famous speech against Stamp Act by Peter Rothermel (p. 15 in Revolutionary War by Bart McDowell). Ask the children what is happening. Have them repeat, “Give me liberty or give me death!” while holding out their right arm in a fist and then pounding it into their hearts as if they are stabbing themselves in the heart when they say, "death."
14. Read some of Why Don't You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? by Jean Fritz. To engage younger listeners, I brought along a stuffed toy dog (with a piece of red cloth hanging from its mouth) to be Queue and held up a toy stick horse whenever the book mentioned a horse.
TEACHER/FAMILY 1: YOU WILL NEED: props to use while reading the book (optional)
15. Discuss some facts about Samuel Adams. Select one child to tape on the Massachusetts colony on the Thirteen Colonies map a miniature picture of Samuel Adams that has been pasted to a small square of blue construction paper.
TEACHER/FAMILY 4: YOU WILL NEED: the above paper and tape
16. Since Samuel Adams' father owned a brewery & he worked there and eventually took over, "brew" some root beer. We will make 1 bottle per family. Be sure to take review how yeast works again (making carbon dioxide as it eats up all that sugar - which will carbonate the root beer) Follow these directions found at this website:
a. Use a funnel to pour 1 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast into the bottle.
b. Shake well to make sure that the yeast is mixed evenly into the sugar.
c. Replace the funnel and add 1 Tbsp. of root beer concentrate.
d. Using the funnel, fill the bottle halfway with water. Replace the lid and swirl the bottle until all the sugar is dissolved.
e. Fill the bottle to the neck with fresh water, leaving about 1" of space. Securely screw on the cap. Invert the bottle a few times to combine all the ingredients.
d. Tell the teachers/moms to place the sealed bottle at room temperature for 3-4 days. Eventually, the bottle should feel hard to a forceful squeeze. Once that happens, move it to a cool place. Refrigerate overnight to thoroughly chill before serving. Crack the lid of the bottle just a little to release the pressure slowly. This might ferment slightly. If you would prefer to not have it taste ever so slightly like beer, refrigerate it tomorrow and drink it tomorrow night.
TEACHER/FAMILY 3: YOU WILL NEED: 3 (1/4 ounce) packages dry active yeast (or a jar of yeast), 1/4 tsp. measuring spoon, 1 bottle Root Beer Concentrate (sold next to vanilla extract in the spice section of the store), & 1 Tablespoon measuring spoon
TEACHER/FAMILY 4: YOU WILL NEED: 1/4 tsp. measuring spoon, 1 bottle Root Beer Extract (sold next to vanilla extract in the spice section of the store), & 1 Tablespoon measuring spoon,
FAMILIES WILL BRING: 1 clean 2 liter bottle, a funnel, a pitcher to hold & pour tap water or a gallon of bottled water, 1 cup of sugar (pre-measured or bring a bag of sugar and a measuring cup)
Snack and Review
17. Let the children brush melted butter over the cornmeal molasses rolls and each child will eat one and drink a cup of water.
TEACHER/FAMILY 1: YOU WILL NEED: cups for water & napkins
18. 5 Minute Review of what we learned. Ask questions such as: Who can name one of the 13 colonies? Who was the king over in England that we learned about? What did he do that the colonists didn’t like? Who was Patrick Henry? What is he famous for saying? Who was Samuel Adams?
Material List for the Lesson
*Everyone needs to bring per child:
-1 item to be used as white wig for your child (cotton batting, white hand-towel, white pillowcase, etc.)
-1 piece of cloth ribbon (preferred) or other ribbon (about 6-8 inches) (to be used to tie the pony tail on the “wig”)
-3 strips of black craft foam (preferred) or black construction paper cut out using the pattern found on p. 13 of
http://www.coreknowledge.org/mimik/mimik_uploads/lesson_plans/88/Revere%20Redcoats%20and%20Revolution.pdf (preferred) OR simply cut them into 9”x3” strips (These will get used to make hats.)
-stapler (1 per family) (optional – if you have one)
-clean 2 liter bottle to use to make homemade root beer (1 per family)
-a funnel that can be used with edible items (i.e. not one you’ve used for car oil)
-a pitcher to hold & pour tap water or a gallon of bottled water
-1 cup of sugar (pre-measured or bring a bag of sugar and a measuring cup)
*Items to be assigned to bring for the entire group:
-Book: Mary Geddy's Day: A Day in Colonial Williamsburg by Kate Waters.
-Book: Can't You Make Them Behave King George? by Jean Fritz
-Book: Why Don't You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? by Jean Fritz
-Baking items (1 set per 4-5 children): 1 large & 1 small mixing bowl, measuring cups & spoons, mixing spoon, 1 liquid measuring cup, 9-inch round baking pan such as a cake pan, pastry brush,
-non-stick cooking spray
-active, dry yeast (used for both the rolls & the root beer)
-1 large map that shows the 13 colonies (a placemat map of the United States would work if you don’t have one of the 13 colonies)
-13 Colonies song printed off for the children to read & sing along
-a crown and any other royal regalia you have (robe, scepter, sheet to cover the seat to make it look like a thrown, etc.)
-a miniature picture of King George III
-costume items to dress up as Patrick Henry
-a miniature picture of Patrick Henry
-picture of the painting of Patrick Henry giving famous speech against Stamp Act by Peter Rothermel (We used the one on p. 15 in “Revolutionary War” by Bart McDowell)
-props to use while reading book on Samuel Adams (optional)
-miniature picture of Samuel Adams
-cups for water & napkins
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!
- King George III, Patrick Henry, & Samuel Adams Lesson - This is part 1 of a 6 part hands-on unit on the American War for Independence. Make tricorn hats and mob caps, “brew” root beer with Samuel Adams, bake cornmeal molasses rolls, and more!
- Paul Revere, Boston Massacre, and Boston Tea Party Lesson - This is part 2 of a 6 part hands-on unit study on the American War for Independence. Hold a tea party, act out the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party, bake a pound cake, examine the work of silversmiths, and more!
- Lexington and Concord, Thomas Jefferson, and Declaration of Independence Lesson - This is part 3 of a 6 part hands-on unit study on the American War for Independence. Make tin can lanterns, reenact the Battles of Lexington and Concord, make ink and sign the Declaration of Independence with a quill pen, eat ice cream with Thomas Jefferson, and more!
- George Washington, Battle of Trenton, & Betsy Ross Lesson - 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!
- Benjamin Franklin, Battle of Saratoga, & Valley Forge Lesson - This is part 5 of a 6 part hands-on unit on the American War for Independence. Build “dragoon pistols,” drill with Baron von Steuben, cook and eat firecakes, experience cold feet at Valley Forge, reenact the Battle of Saratoga, and more!
- Battle of Yorktown, Benedict Arnold, Swamp Fox, & John Paul Jones Lesson - This is part 6 of a 6 part hands-on unit on the American War for Independence. Make drums, write a secret code and seal it with wax, make and eat hominy, act out the battles of Bonhomme Richard, Cowpens, and Yorktown, and more!
- American Revolution Presentations and Field Trip Ideas - This is the culminating activity we did after a 6 part hands-on unit on the American Revolution. We had a colonial-themed dinner and the children each dressed up as a famous person from the American Revolution time period and presented on him/her. Also included are the field trips we attended while studying this unit.
Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Medieval Period, Native Americans, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! 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 Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies.
Other Helpful Activity Ideas and Lesson Plans
- Free American Revolution Lapbook
Lots of free lapbook printables related to the American Revolution
- Understanding Taxes Hands-on Lesson
Give each student 10 small pieces of candy such as Skittles. Tell them they are not to eat the candy until the activity is completed. Appoint roles to three students. One is the King of England, one represents the Parliament, and one the tax collecto
- Great Colonial Craft and Baking Activities for Children
Great Colonial Craft and Baking Activities for Children
- American Revolution Paper Dolls
Free print-offs patterns for you to make paper doll characters for the American Revolution. These are great if you make a timeline!
Looking for more activity ideas?
Patrick Henry, Orator of the Revolution
Get to Know Founding Father Samuel Adams
Would you like to teach this way every day?
I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful curriculum and was created by moms with active boys!
If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!
© 2011 Shannon
Would You Have Obeyed King George III? - Or just let me know you dropped by! I LOVE getting feedback from you!
Shannon (author) from Florida on February 22, 2013:
@anonymous: Thank you. I did just re-read the book and noted it does include that word in describing what the British soldiers did.
anonymous on January 25, 2013:
You might want to put a disclaimer on the George vs. George book to give parents a heads up that it includes references to ra pe and other pg-13 ish content. Thankfully, I spotted those references before I read them outloud and my children' weren't independent readers.
Cathy Slaght from St. Petersburg, Fl on June 14, 2012:
This is an incredible lens! And I personally would have had a rough time back in those days- almost as much govt control then as we have now! LOL
julieannbrady on June 01, 2012:
Oh gosh, I don't know if I would have been an obedient servant ... off with her head! Very educational how you mised King George III with Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams!
Eva Varga from Oregon on March 21, 2012:
Great lens! Thank you!
Ann Hinds from So Cal on September 03, 2011:
Thanks for all the info. This is really helpful. Angel Blessed.
lasertek lm on June 03, 2011:
Very informative and great looking lens. Awesome job!
Take a peek at my lens, Homeschooling 101: Guide to Free Curriculum and Other Resources.
HeatherTodd1 on May 13, 2011:
Thanks for the Great article
rwoman on February 16, 2011:
Great lens. I also heartily recommend the John Adams miniseries. We just watched it with our 10 year old (with some judicious editing as there are some scenes we didn't want him to watch) and he loved it. We also made two visits to Colonial Williamsburg within the past year and that is pretty awesome if you can manage it.