As many of you know, we spent the past six or eight weeks learning about the events leading up to the American Revolution. One of the best ways for kids to learn is for them to actively engage with the material. I used to teach American History classes overseas and at the end of each unit we would put on a play for the parents. I would always write the play so that everyone in the class had a part. Since ED is finally old enough, I thought I would try writing a play for the kids on this material. What a great way for them to understand how and why things happened! The kids *really* loved working on this.
It took us about two weeks to get this “ready” to perform. We practiced for an hour (or two). The kids never memorized the lines, but we went over scenes again and again so they could make transitions easily and so that they understood when things were happening all at once (like the Boston Massacre where the lines were said one right after the other or at the same time). It was the kids’ first experience with drama and they really worked hard to polish the play up!
Even if you don’t have that kind of time to devote to the play, they would get something out of reading through the play (and working with the material in a different way).
I set out to create a play for three people, so for each scene the kids had to change name-tags. If you have a classroom, you can assign about 12 different parts. The play is nine pages long. There are nine acts:
- Act 1: Parliament: The Proclamation of 1763, Stamp Act is Passed
- Act 2: Reaction to the Stamp Act in the Colonies
- Act 3: Andrew Oliver’s Effigy; Stamp Act Protest
- Act 4: Parliament Repeals the Stamp Act, Passes the Declaratory Act and Passes the Townshend Acts
- Act. 5: Boston Custom’s House 1770, Boston Massacre
- Act 6: Boston Tea Party (Sam Adams, James Otis with a small dustbin and brush, Elisha Leavitt)
- Act 7: Lexington and Concord (Paul Revere, SA, Col1)
- Act 8: Tories, Tories Everywhere (Elisha Leavitt, a Tory, Sam Adams)
- Act 9: Battle of Grape Island (Captain Thomas Preston, Elisha Leavitt, Sam Adams)
We used our living room as our stage and had the events in the colonies on one side of the room and the events in Parliament on the other side. A “boat” was in the middle and was used both for the Boston Tea Party and for the scenes where various acts were passed (and the news was shared over in the colonies)
Our play includes many of the common events you’d recognize… Parliament passing various acts, the burning of Andrew Oliver’s effigy (scarecrow in the picture above left), Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Ride (with a selection from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem), but also includes a sub-plot about a Tory named Elisha Leavitt.
Elisha Leavitt was a real historical person. He was a blacksmith who became a merchant and wealthy landowner in the Boston area. He also was a Tory and sympathized with the British. The events at Grape Island have sometimes been referred to as the “Battle of Grape Island.” This took place about a month after Lexington and Concord and less than a month before Bunker Hill.
Act 5: The Boston Massacre
P.S. My daughter enjoyed doing this play so much, she decided to try out for a part in the local production of Narnia. She got a part (in the chorus) in Aslan’s army! 🙂 It’s so great to expose the kids to different things, isn’t it?!!
Happy Homeschooling and Terrific Teaching!! ~Liesl
You might also be interested in these posts:
- American Revolution Packet: See more details here.