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Imagery and Causes of the American Revolution

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Social Studies Age Level Elementary (9 to 12 years old)

Essential Questions:

  1. How can we learn about history through a political cartoon or artifact?
  2. What were the causes and events leading up to the American Revolution?

This lesson is designed as an introduction to the causes of the American Revolution. Students will use primary sources (political cartoons, historical artwork, etc.) to identify some key historical events and the feelings of both the colonists and the British during and as a result of these events. 

Anticipatory set:

Choose either the Claim, Support, Question or the See, Think, Wonder thinking routine to begin the discussion of the "Join or Die" political cartoon. Once students have taken the time to look closely at the image, discuss the symbolism, the creator, and the implications of the French and Indian War on the American Revolution. 

Looking Closely:

Explain that students will break into groups to look closely at an image that has to do with an event leading up to the beginning of the American Revolution. Students can either continue to use the thinking routine you modeled in the anticipatory set, or they can use the Reporter's Notebook routine. Give students ample time to look closely at the image and notice the details, looking specifically for clues in titles and symbolism. Alternatively, the students could use the Cartoon Analysis Worksheet developed by the National Archives to notice and name some of the details in the images. If students are using the Reporter's Notebook thinking routine, have them complete only the facts and feelings section at this point. 

Once students have had time to explore their image, create a timeline of events with the images as a class, reading about and discussing each one. Once students have additional information about the event, the should complete the report at the bottom of the Reporter's Notebook organizer using additional details from the text. 

Closing/Assessment:

Students will complete a gallery walk of the images with the reports written by the students. After reading the reports and looking again at each image, students will create a headline for the report, capturing the most important aspect of the event.