January 19, 2016
by Mrs. Hamman's Class

Before the American Revolution

In Social Studies we’ve been learning about the events that led to the American Revolution. We’ve learned that the Revolution was not caused by just one thing, but by a series of events. We’ve studied the French and Indian War and the various conflicts between the colonists and the British. Here are three activities we did to help us understand these events.

Taxation Without Representation Role Play

Members of the class were given “money” (a small cup of candies). Three students were chosen to serve as the King and his two Tax Collectors. The King started passing “taxes” that affected some class members, but not others; for example, if you had laces on your shoes, the tax collectors took three of your candies, or if you were wearing glasses, they took two. After a few turns we could see how unfair it must have seemed to the colonists when they had to pay taxes whenever the King asked, especially since they had no representatives who could speak for them in Parliament!

Sons of Liberty

We read that the Sons of Liberty had to do a lot of communicating in secret. When they scheduled a meeting, they would fly a red flag from the liberty pole in town. We practiced being Sons of Liberty by getting into groups and building liberty poles with the supplies we were given. The catch was that we had to do all the building in complete silence! It was hard, but it helped us see how the Sons of Liberty had to be careful not to give away their plans.

Boston Massacre

We learned that there was a trial after the Boston Massacre, and there were lots of conflicting opinions about what really happened that night. We went through a series of clues from the scene and read actual witness statements from the trial to compare them. We also studied the famous engraving made by Paul Revere. After we looked at everything, we had to form an opinion about who was most at fault, the colonists or the British soldiers, and write up a report about it.

Here is a Flipagram showing pictures of these activities.

Attribution: Here are links to the original sources on which these three activities were based: Taxation Without Representation Role Play by Kristine Nannini, Sons of Liberty by Mind Missions, Boston Massacre by To Engage Them All.

Next week, we’ll start Mission 1: For Crown or Colony, from Mission US!


November 19, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman

The Mayflower Voyage

This week we read Across the Wide Dark Sea by Jean Van Leeuwen a historical fiction account of the Mayflower voyage. Then we did some online research about the Pilgrims and their journey. We tried to imagine what being onboard the Mayflower would have been like.

We learned that the 102 passengers on the Mayflower mostly lived on the ‘tween deck, in an area with estimated dimensions of 58 by 24 feet. To get an idea of that size, we measured out an area outside with those dimensions, and all the fifth graders at our school (a few more than 102 kids) stood together in it. It felt pretty crowded, even without any adults! Can you imagine what it would have been like to live so close to other people for a 66-day trip at sea? To make it more challenging, even after they arrived in the New World, many of them had to remain on the ship for months!


Every day this week during reading time, we dimmed the lights and read by (electric) candlelight, to simulate the darkness of the ship. We listened to sound effects that sounded like being in a wooden ship. On Wednesday, while we read we ate a meal like one the Pilgrims would have had on board: beans and dry bread. Goody M and Goody H were kind enough to serve us!





By Mayflower pilgrims (as signed) (Unknown) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, we did a close reading of an important primary source document, the Mayflower Compact. Although the original signed document has been lost, we read a version that was copied down by William Bradford, one of the signers.  After reading it a few times and discussing the unfamiliar words, it was a lot easier to understand than it was at first! We were working on summarizing this week, so we were asked to come up for a sentence of 12 words or less to summarize the Mayflower Compact. Here are a few of our answers.

We will have our own government in this new land.

For our religion, we agree to make laws and follow them.

We’ll follow our own rules and our own religion in this colony.

What else can you teach us about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower?


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