Some of the most important concepts for students to understand about the American Revolution are the causes and events leading to the war and then the battles and key events that took place during the Revolutionary War.
Timeline activities are perfect to help students grasp the significance of each of these and are a great in-class activity. I combine activities that students complete in cooperative learning groups, digital timelines that kids work on with computers, and teacher-directed overviews of the most import events. This way, you ensure that students have a thorough understanding of each significant event of the Revolutionary War era.
The first activity students complete is a cooperative learning activity where students read about and sort 10 events on a two-page interactive timeline. The activity includes PDF printable cards about each of the following events:
The Enlightenment, Salutary Neglect, The French & Indian War, Proclamation of 1763, Sugar Act, Stamp Act, Boston Massacre, Intolerable Acts, Boston Tea Party, and Declaration of Independence.
A short paragraph on each card includes a date and its significance. Students sort these into the correct order and then complete the included timeline in their notebooks. There's a few ways to differentiate this for your classes. Students can draw pictures for the events, list "just the facts," or explain how each help lead to the American Revolution.
The next class, we'll start looking at the war itself and use digital activities online to mix things up. I use a few pages from my American Revolution Digital Notebook set here.
There are pages devoted to analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each side, major events, important people, the Declaration of Independence, and more.
Students use laptops or their own devices and included links to online sources that they use to complete the pages. It's a great activity they can work on independently while you provide extra help to students, catch up on grading, or move around the room to help.
These digital notebooks are some of my favorite resources to use for that flexibility they provide. You can find them for ALL of US History here.
Next, to cover the major battles and events I use pages from this interactive notebook set. There's a few pages that are great for this unit, but I like to use this 2-page spread timeline worksheet for their notebooks.
There are a couple options for how students can complete the page. First, they can use a textbook or reading source to learn about each of the boxes and complete the required info with what they learn from the reading. The boxes along the timeline are focused on the most important aspects of the Revolutionary War, so they'd be easy to find in any source.
Another option for the battles timeline is to go through it together with students using this PowerPoint. This ensures that students understand all the key aspects of each event and write down the essential info from a teacher-directed PowerPoint. The presentation covers all the required info and even includes a "flipped classroom" video version that you can have students watch and use to complete the timeline.
Finally, a great movie to show during this unit is A&E's The Crossing, about Gen. George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River. It's factually based and engaging for the kids. I use this movie guide that students complete as they watch.
You can download each of these activities individually or snag my whole American Revolution Unit Plan Bundle here. This unit bundle includes some other great activities that work perfectly with these timelines, including:
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