As we have worked through our studies of the American Revolution, I wanted to create a post for our family so we could watch some history video documentaries from one convenient spot. 🙂 Plus, this post also includes some American Revolution books for younger students. Hope you find this page helpful!
These are the two series we have been watching as we have studied the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. (Note: We also watched some shorter videos, but they weren’t very helpful so I won’t include them here.)
You can’t really understand the American Revolution without understanding the events of the French and Indian War, so we spent a full week studying that again. (We’ve been watching half an episode to start off the day and the other half during lunch! The kids have *really* enjoyed these!)
We went over the French & Indian War worksheets and also went over the new timeline materials I added to the American Revolution Packet. More about that in the next day or so, but here’s a sneak peek at that material.
We watched all four PBS videos in the series, The War That Made America, which was all about the French and Indian War. My kids really enjoyed (and learn a lot from) these docu-dramas.
The next set of videos are from the PBS series Liberty, The American Revolution and were shared on youtube by “MrGartlands Class” for educational purposes only. We are currently on episode 4.
Episode 1 The Reluctant Revolutionaries
In 1763, American colonists were happily British and proud of the personal liberties granted them as members of the British empire. The French had left North America and the future looks rich and bountiful as the continent itself. What happened to move these same people to the brink of revolution? Episode 1 shows America in the years prior to revolution and details the disintegration of relationships between England and America. It explains why the British imposition of the Stamp Act on America was such a blunder and how Great Britain compounded its error.
Episode 2 Blows Must Decide
By the fall of 1774, Boston is under martial law and the colonies wonder who will feel the weight of British power next. This episode touches on Common Sense and the Declaration of Independence.
Episode 3 The Times That Try Men’s Souls
Days after signing the Declaration of Independence, an immense British force drops anchor in New York harbor and George Washington, leader of the Continental army, is immediately faced with dire concerns. How will his volunteer force survive on the battlefield against the polished British professionals? In this episode Washington’s Continental Army is pushed out of New York… and then quietly crosses the Delaware River surprising Hessian soldiers at Trenton.
Episode 4 Oh Fatal Ambition
In this episode Europe is watching the American Revolution, especially French. This episode tracks the ill-fated march of British General John Burgoyne down the Hudson River in an attempt to cut of New England from the rest of the colonies.
Episode 5 The World Turned Upside Down
This episode talks about the British attempts to “win the hearts and minds” of the South. It also describes the entrance of France into the war.
Episode 6: Are We to Be a Nation?
This episode looks at the Constitutional Convention… and the formation of the new nation’s government.
Also, there is an interactive history game called Mission US that your kids might want to explore. This is a fun free resource, an interactive way to learn about US History.
Mission 1 is about the American Revolution. We have used this from time to time Mission US . I know some other homeschooling families whose kids enjoyed this online activity/game too. 🙂
American Revolution Books
(for elementary and middle school students)
Books and Resources we used for this unit study when the kids were in elementary and middle school:
We have a number of different American History textbooks, but we wound up using another resource that I had from my teaching days. It worked well for our family because it had one page for each topic we covered. The style was really engaging. We used this as a read aloud. We only used the second half of the book, but I definitely recommend it.
The American Colonies (affiliate link) by Tim McNeese (1 page or so on each topic). We used pages 66-93 for this unit. There are no illustrations/maps to speak of (just small black and white drawings on every other page or so), but this book worked well for our family.
Johnny Tremain (affiliate link) – This book has really made this era come alive for the kids. Many of you have probably heard of this Newbery Winner. This has been our read aloud the past few weeks. The kids really love this book and it has made some of the people we’ve learned about come alive! When we talked about smugglers and merchants being upset about the Townshend Duties or Tea Act, the kids knew John Hancock really well (from Johnny Tremain). We highly recommend it!
Because our family read Johnny Tremain (affiliate link) in conjunction with this unit study, I made a interactive notebook page for the great men of Boston… Men who feature prominently in that book. We used this as a lapbook page. We cut out the page below, folded it along the dotted line, and made cuts between each of the names/photos. Kids can either write in their own description under the flap, or use the information provided to glue within the flap-book. (This is included in the American Revolution Packet.)
Let It Begin Here!: Lexington & Concord: First Battles of the American Revolution: (affiliate link) We read this children’s book the day after we watched April Morning. The kids said — Wow, that was just like the movie! This is a quick read.
Other children’s resources we used during this unit:
George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides (affiliate link) — This book helps kids look at this period of history from both points of view — from that of King George III in Britain and from that of George Washington in the colonies. It tries to give an even-handed portrayal of both sides… and we had a really great discussion about being on the “right side.” It depends!
Sleds on Boston Common: A Story from the American Revolution (affiliate link)– by Louise Borden – Set in Dec. 1774, this story portrays General Thomas Gage as an understanding, fatherly figure to some boys in Boston who want to go sledding. This book really helped my kids understand how difficult it was for the British soldiers who were so far away from their families… and for the people (and kids) of Boston, whose town was overrun by soldiers (one British soldier for every 5 Boston citizens.)
Katie’s Trunk (affiliate link)– by Ann Turner – This story was told from the perspective of a Tory family. A little girl runs back into her house to try to protect her family’s belongings when rebels came and started looting. We had a good discussion on how it wasn’t as clear cut which side to support (the king or the patriot cause) at the time, as it is looking back on history.
Henry and the Cannons: An Extraordinary True Story of the American Revolution (affiliate link)– The story of how Henry Knox dragged 59 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga in NY, all the way back to Boston. This was a journey that took nearly five months, but led to the recapture of Boston in March 1776.
The Ride: The Legend of Betsy Dowdy (affiliate link) This is a story of a girl who rode her horse from the North Carolina coast inland to General Skinner’s militia 50 miles inland to warn that Lord Dunmore were marching on the Great Bridge and were after supplies and ponies. Set in Dec. of 1777. The story is based on oral tradition.
Redcoats and Petticoats (affiliate link) This book is based on a true story of people on the north shore of Long Island (60 miles east of NYC). A spy ring began in 1778 and ran for six years, with Nancy Strong passing along information on her clothesline.
The Scarlet Stockings Spy (Tales of Young Americans) (affiliate link) This is a fictional story about a girl who uses her clothesline in Philadelphia to share information about the ships in the Philadelphia Harbor. It is set in 1777 around the time of the Battle of Brandywine, Valley Forge, and the Battle of Monmouth.
They Called Her Molly Pitcher (affiliate link) This is the story of Molly Pitcher who accompanied her husband to Valley Forge and then brought water to soldiers at the Battle of Monmouth (in July 1777) and eventually took over her husband’s job firing a cannon.
You might be interested in our packet, Causes and Events Leading to the American Revolution. (I’ve made updates to the file adding in some new materials including new chronology cards, the French & Indian War Timeline and a new American Revolution Booklet. Plus, I plan to add in some extra teacher notes at some point soon. )
If is currently $4.00, though the price will be increasing soon.
You might also be interested in our Slavery and the Civil War Packet
You might be interested in the FREE notebook pages we have about the history of the Sioux and Cheyenne. You’ll find these here:
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Happy Homeschooling! ~Liesl