Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.”
These lesson plans are drawn from the full Why America Is Free Curriculum. Each is from a different subject, and all are interrelated, offering a taste of the curriculum’s integrated and experiential approach.
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard around the world.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Lexington and Concord
The following integrated lesson plans are centered around the opening salvo of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. Each engages students in active learning across subjects while revealing new insights into the historical and cultural context of what happened that day. This meaningfully integrated and active learning approach is used throughout the Why America Is Free Curriculum.
Excerpt from the Why America is Free textbook—Chapter 9
Lexington and Concord
The Why America Is Free textbook, published by the Society of the Cincinnati and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, covers the American Revolution and founding period succinctly, accurately, and in a manner that captivates upper elementary students. It is an essential teaching component of the Why America Is Free Curriculum. The following excerpt covers the rising Patriot fervor and the events of Lexington and Concord, including one segment of the story of a fictional boy through whom students relate personally to this historical study.
Social Studies—The War Starts!
In this lesson, students see tensions mount throughout the colonies until the Battle of Lexington and Concord bring the colonies together and ignite the war itself.
Language Arts—Divided Loyalties
Journaling by 18th Century Americans and Students Today
In this lesson, students create an 18th century alter ego for themselves. Then, as that 18th century person, they write a journal entry that deals with a difficult instance of divided loyalty that the Revolutionary War forced upon so many Americans. In a separate journal entry, they deal with the same issue in their own lives today.
Math—The Needs of Horses
Using Math to Understand Patriot Communication Systems
In this lesson plan, by applying a variety of math skills, students solve word problems that begin with the death of Paul Revere’s borrowed horse Brown Beauty and go on to illuminate the needs of horses and systems Patriots used throughout the Revolution to get key information to distant places quickly.
Art—Hidden in Plain Sight
The Paul Revere Portrait
In this lesson, part of a multimedia series on Colonial Artists and their Subjects, students learn the critical importance of portraiture before cameras, use historical context to discover the hidden message in this important political painting, and look into the eyes of a man who raised the countryside to arms.
In this lesson that is based on the song “Yankee Doodle”, students learn that after the victory at Lexington and Concord, American Patriots took over a song the British were using to ridicule Americans, and then follow the verses as they describe many events throughout the War from the Patriot perspective.
P.E—The Revere-Dawes Communication System In Action!
In this lesson, students using the alarm system also used by Dawes and Revere, two teams race to avoid British interceptors and to get a message accurately to the furthest team members.
A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”
These Civics lessons are drawn from the Why America Is Free Curriculum, but each has been edited to work as a supplemental lesson in support of any curriculum. Please enjoy!
“Should I or Shouldn’t I?” Self-Governance Through Principle-Based Reasoning
An Enlightenment Principle-Based Decision-Making Technique Used by 18th Century Americans
This lesson gives students a reliable reasoning tool with which they can govern their own behavior, assess the behavior of others, and examine laws and rules. Simultaneously, use of this technique will give them insight into the reasoning approach of educated 18th Century Americans —how and why they made many of the decisions they did.
Civility—Key to Self-Government
The drafting of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was a product of respectful discussion, a practice that involves explaining your views, listening and trying to understand other perspectives, and treating all with courtesy even when not in agreement. In this lesson, students observe and participate in both noncivil discussion behavior and civil and learn that the rules of behavior help different people work together and lead to workable solutions.
Book Of Heroes
Discerning Character Traits and Guiding Civic Principle from History
This lesson introduces the practice of attempting to recognize character traits and civic principles followed by people from history based on their actions and their own words. Students decide which of these behaviors and their guiding principles they admire and wish to follow.
Bill of Rights Jingle
The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution protect our most cherished rights as Americans. In this lesson, students use meter, rhyme and performance to put the Bill of Rights into a jingle that they will never forget.
Federal, Not State
What would happen to interstate commerce if every state created and regulated its own money? In this lesson, students find out as they make their own money and then try to trade with each other. They learn why the Constitution assigned this job to the federal government.
Treaties—a Federal, Not State Power
When states joined the United States, they had to give up certain powers.. One of these is the power to make treaties, legal agreements with other countries. Students experience the dilemma of the state leaders, who represent their constituents’ interests, and discover the reasons that the federal government is responsible for agreements that affect everyone.
Apportionment math—Let’s Be Fair!
In this lesson students will learn about Congressional apportionment in our federal government and use math skills to compare the ratio of US Representatives to the populations in several states.
Not in My House!
In this lesson students will use creative writing to illustrate their understanding of Amendment III.
Show Me the Body
In this lesson students learn about the protections of writs of habeas corpus.
Scene One Take Two
In this lesson students learn to distinguish between civil and criminal wrongs and how they are handled.