Monday, January 20, 2014

Toliver's Secret

I'm really into any cross curricular units I can get my hands on. Since I teach fourth grade, the American Revolution is a biggie in Social Studies. The kiddos are always totally into the lessons and love learning more than the textbook covers. (which, by the way, I tend to avoid. I can create better lessons than that 30 year old textbook!)

Anyway, a few weeks into our American Revolution unit, I begin a new read aloud, Toliver's Secret. It is the story of Ellen Toliver, who goes undercover as a boy on a secret mission to deliver General George Washington a message, which is hidden inside a loaf of bread. It's a short read, but totally captivating and AMAZING. The kiddos get hooked and walk away with a vast amount of knowledge pertaining to the American Revolution.

So, I have a sweet student packet with chapter questions and culminating activities on my Teachers Pay Teachers page. Check it out.

By the way, here are a few ideas for teaching the American Revolution:

  • I teach an event leading up to the American Revolution each day. You know, the whole Proclamation of 1763, Sugar Act, Stamp Act, etc. After we learn the details of that event, the kiddos write a letter to King George III from the perspective of a colonist. The rule is that they must cite the event and explain it in the letter. The fun part is the whole voice element. We brainstorm "angry" words and the kiddos get really into it. Plus, not a whole lot of fourth graders totally looooove writing, but they definitely like this kind of writing!
  • When we learn about the Boston Tea Party, we create invitations! I actually pre-make them, and have the kiddos fill in the information like a real party invite. We also have a real tea party, kinda tying in Math. We taste some different teas and create a line plot of our favorites.
  • The King's M&Ms is a pretty famous lesson. A lot of fourth grade teachers know about it. I've used it and it is pretty darn memorable. I use sticky name tags and label one King, two Parliament, and the rest Colonist. Everyone gets a cup of M&Ms. I have the King pick silly taxes out of a hat, like, "Pay two M&Ms if you're wearing sneakers." Obviously, the "colonists" get upset because they are paying silly taxes, and the parliament and King are getting their M&Ms! We have a great discussion tying this in with the American Revolution.
  • Another fourth grade teacher I worked with would have a "Tax Day," in which she gave out fake money and taxed kiddos all day long for very silly things, like borrowing a pencil or going to the bathroom.
Any other American Revolution ideas?

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