Monthly Archives: July 2013

African Americans & the Revolutionary War

Week 15: African Americans during the Revolution


READ: K – 6:  Phoebe the Spy by Judith Berry Griffin OR Phoebe and the General by Judith Berry Griffin

7 – 8: Chains: (Seeds of America) by Laurie Halse Anderson


Note (Please read the following information to your children):  The first Africans that came to America were treated as servants rather than slaves.    They worked for a period of years and then earned their freedom.  They got along well with white servants and intermarried with them.

            Eventually however, more and more workers were needed to run large plantations in the South.  Black Slaves were relatively cheap and could not go to their government for help, so demand for them increased.  During the 1600’s slavery became a life term rather than a form of indentured servitude.  Marriage between races was forbidden.  Children of slaves became the property of their master.  As time went on more and more Africans were kidnapped from their native countries and forcibly taken by ship to America.   They were packed together in the bottom of  boats with no bathrooms.  Many died or became very sick on their long trip across the ocean.   When they reached America, they were lined up and auctioned off to bidders like cattle.  Most worked in the fields in the South, helping with rice, indigo, tobacco, and cotton.  Others worked in the homes as servants/slaves in both the Northern and Southern colonies.  Many were treated cruelly and worked ruthlessly by their masters.

                A small percentage of African Americans earned their freedom, thrived in the colonies, and did much to benefit society.  A black scientist named Benjamin Banneker wrote almanacs and created his own clock.  A black woman  named Phillis Wheatley wrote beautiful poetry.  Others owned successful businesses.

                During the Revolutionary War some enlisted as soldiers.  Great Britain promised freedom to blacks who helped fight against the Patriots.  Many Patriot masters promised slaves their freedom if they fought for them in the war.  Others saw the confusion of the war as an opportune time to flee from their masters and make themselves free.  White soldiers and black soldiers often fought side by side.  Unfortunately, after the war many who were promised their freedom in return for service for their country were never given it.  Others were freed, then kidnapped because they were black and forced into slavery again.  During and immediately after the war, Northern colonies began passing laws to eliminate slavery.  However, slavery remained a way of life in the South until the Civil War.

                Unfortunately many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were slave holders themselves, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  Some of these men even believed that slavery was wrong, yet setting their own slaves free was not something they could bring themselves to do.  They depended too much on their services.



  • T/F African Americans were always slaves in the colonies.  (false)
  • T/F Before the Revolutionary War there were only slaves in the Southern colonies. (false)
  • What type of work did slaves do? (worked on plantations, worked as servants, were soldiers)
  • What type of work did free African Americans do? (some owned businesses, were soldiers, scientists, poets, etc.)
  • How did slaves come to America? (kidnapped from Africa and taken by boat)
  • How were slaves purchased? (sold at auctions)
  • How were slaves involved in the Revolutionary War? (some fought for the British in return for their freedom; others fought for the Patriots in the place of their master; some fought because they believed in the ideals of the Revolution)
  • Just after the Revolutionary War, laws were passed to set slaves free in what part of the colonies? (North)
  • Did any of the signers of the Declaration of Independence have slaves? (yes)

Questions for grades K – 6:

  • In your own words tell the story of Phoebe the spy.
  • How did she save George Washington’s life?
  • Were Phoebe and her father free or slaves?
  • Do you think they knew George Washington had slaves?
  • Do you think they still would have helped him if they knew?

Questions for grades 7 – 8:

  • In your own words tell the story of Isabel.
  • Do any of the events in this book surprise you?  Explain.
  • Do you believe Isabel’s life as a slave was typical?  Why or why not?
  • A famous quote is written at the beginning of each chapter.  Did any of these quotes surprise you?  Why?

ACTIVITIES: K – 3: Take a sheet of paper and fold it in half and then in half again.  In each of the four quadrants, draw a scene from the story Phoebe The Spy (or Phoebe and the General).  Write a sentence under each picture explaining what is happening in that scene.

4 – 8:  Go to this link from Teaching American History Md by clicking HERE.   (You will need to scroll down on this site.) Use this information to do the following worksheet.  (Click to Open): Slavery During the Revolutionary War


Copyright July 27th, 2013 by Gwen Fredette

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Revolutionary War Review

Week 14: Revolutionary War Mini Review


Grades K – 8 Watch: The following free clips from America, The Story of Us by clicking on each topic.

1.) Boston Massacre

2.) Declaration of Independence

3.) American Revolution

4.) George Washington

5.) Yorktown


READ:  K – 6: Begin reading Phoebe the Spy by Judith Berry Griffin OR Phoebe and the General by Judith Berry Griffin (will be discussed during next week’s lesson)


7 – 8: Begin reading Chains: (Seeds of America) by Laurie Halse Anderson (will be discussed during next week’s lesson.)



  • Is there anything you saw today that surprised you? Explain. (Answers will vary)

ACTIVITIES: Grades K – 8:  None!


Copyright July 20th, 2013 by Gwen Fredette

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Women & the Revolutionary War

Week 13: How Women Helped the Revolutionary War (1777)


READ:  K – 2: The Boston Coffee Party by Doreen Rappaport

3 – 4: The Boston Coffee Party by Doreen Rappaport AND Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride by Marsha Amstel

5 – 6: The Secret Soldier by Ann McGovern

7 – 8: Patriots in Petticoats by Shirley Raye Redmond



No legal image is available for me to post for The Boston Coffee Party, but you can see an image of the book by clicking HERE.

Note for kids in K – 6: Women helped support the Patriots in many ways.  They planned successful boycotts.  (They stopped buying British goods.)  They helped make uniforms and blankets for the soldiers.  They ran businesses and farms while their husbands were away fighting.  Mary Goddard owned a newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, and bravely agreed to print copies of the Declaration of Independence when Philadelphia printers wouldn’t.  Betsy Ross was paid to make flags for America.  Many believe she was the one who created the first American flag.  Many  worked as nurses to care for the sick and wounded.  Other women cooked for the soldiers and brought them water while they were fighting.  Many women helped defend their towns from the Redcoats while their husbands were away.  Others, such as Deborah Samson, disguised themselves as men and actually fought in the war.   Some worked as spies in the British camps and went back to the Patriots to report on how many Redcoats were in a camp, or warned patriots when British were planning to attack.  Some even delivered secret messages.



  • What is a boycott? (When people stop buying something to hurt the seller.)
  • What did women of the colonies boycott? (British goods.)
  • How did women use sewing skills to help the Patriots? (made blankets, uniforms, flags)
  • Who is rumored to be the creator of the first American flag? (Betsy Ross)
  • T/F Women worked as nurses during the Revolutionary War. (True)
  • T/F During the Revolutionary War, women did not know how to use guns. (False, many used guns to defend themselves while their husbands were away.)
  • How did Deborah Samson help the Patriots? (dressed as a man and fought in the war)
  • T/F Women sometimes worked as spies for the Patriots. (true)
  • Thinking about the story (stories) you read, how did this woman’s (these women’s) actions help the war effort? (Answers will vary)


K – 2: Take a white piece of paper and fold it in half; then fold it again.  In each of the four sections, draw a picture of something women did to help in the Revolutionary War.

3 – 6:  Write a paragraph telling of at least 5 ways women helped in the Revolutionary War.  Be sure to include at least 2 names of famous women.

7 – 8:  Considering what you read of how women helped fight the Revolutionary War, which three women’s stories did you find the most interesting? Why?  Write an essay.


Copyright July 13th, 2013 by Gwen Fredette

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Daily Life (1776) Part II

Week 12: Daily Life (1776) Part II


READ:  K – 5:  If you Lived at the Time of the American Revolution by Kay Moore (pgs 41 – end)

6 – 8: If You Were There in 1776 by Barbara Brenner (pgs 64 – end)


  • Why didn’t many people eat sheep (mutton) during the war? (Wool needed for soldier’s uniforms)
  • Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? (Thomas Jefferson)
  • How did Loyalist and Patriot families support the war? (Many men and boys as young as 15 or 16 signed up to fight.  Women made clothes and blankets.  Lead was donated and made into bullets.  Many flew the new flag.  Many acted as spies for what armies were doing/planning.
  • Did children help in the war? (yes, some carried messages or even helped as spies.)

Questions for 6 – 8:

  • What side did most Native Americans take? Why? (sided with British because the British promised to protect their lands and keep colonists from moving there.)
  • What side did most African slaves take? Why? (British – they were promised their freedom if they fought for them)
  • How did many of the signers of the Declaration feel about slavery?  (Many didn’t feel it was right; yet they had slaves themselves.)
  • What were some of the most important cities in America at this time? (Boston, Philadelphia, & New York)


K – 2: Go to patriotic coloring by clicking HERE and have fun coloring the picture.

3 – 8:  Write a short story about one of the following:

  • When you went into town you heard some British soldiers talking about the attack planned on your neighbor’s house for tomorrow morning.  He has weapons stored in his barn.  What do you do?
  • Your parents are Loyalists and have made it clear that no one in your family should support the Patriots, but your Patriot Uncle who was wounded in battle, stumbles into your barn asking for help.  What do you do?

Copyright July 6th, 2013 by Gwen Fredette

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