How can a teacher effectively cover a unit on the American Revolution in four months without lulling a classroom of young students sleep? For those who are willing to boldly employ the types of things 8 year-olds appreciate, the answers to these questions are clear and can be applied to social studies themes, especially the American Revolution. Second grade social studies class at Tuxedo Park School has become a time dedicated to reenacting and recreating the American Revolution in ways that are fun, meaningful, and reverent of our nation’s heritage. Two key highlights from this year’s living-history immersion in the eighteenth century include a Boston Tea Party reenactment and exploring and packing up a Continental soldier’s campsite.
After being initiated into the Sons of Liberty, second graders used their imaginations to envision the school playground as Boston Harbor in 1773. They followed the crafty and secretive methods of men like Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren as they worked together to plan how best to board the Beaver, Dartmouth, and Eleanor to empty the crates of East India Company tea stored below deck. Donning “boot black” and feathers to resemble Mohawks, the mob descended on “Boston Harbor” and completed the mission to the amazement of on-lookers. The following day in social studies, students submitted articles outlining the event to the Boston Gazette for publication.
As students learned more about the life and times of citizens and soldiers during the American Revolution, they produced a class list distinguishing between items we might use while camping today and items a Continental soldier might use while encamped during the summer of 1776. To be sure the list was accurate, the class was brought outside where they found a complete Revolutionary War encampment. Students had the chance to peruse soldiers’ equipment, test out the sleeping situation, and even take down the tent to experience a moment of life on campaign.