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Mythologizing America

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

This collection is intended to follow a study of the major events of the American Revolution. Students will examine a set of 1860s era renderings of the major events of the American Revolution and consider what story these images were intended to tell about the creation of America. Students are expected to compare and contrast the images with their gained knowledge of major historical events to consider what goals a creator may have had in creating this particular set of images and whether or not these images fairly portray the founding story. In this study the following goals are targeted: 

Big Ideas: 

  • We must be alert, questioning, and thoughtful readers of history. 
  • All retelling of history is an interpretation. 
  • Historical context is critical for understanding artifacts and historical interpretations. 
  • History is multifaceted and can be understood differently from multiple perspectives. 
  • Historical events are connected to current events.

Expert Thinking: 

  • Analyze primary and secondary sources for relevant historical details.
  • Synthesize details to understand the story of America’s founding.
  • Explain and analyze cause and effect relationships across historical events. 
  • Interpret history using a variety of sources and understanding of perspectives, including: personal stories, events, and factual knowledge.

Guiding Questions: 

  • What criteria should be used to evaluate a historical interpretation? 
  • How can we interpret events to accurately retell history? 
  • When is an interpretation of history "fair"? 
  • What tools can creators use to convey meaning when retelling history? Why might they choose to present a certain perspective? 


  • 4.8.5. Identify the views, lives, and influences of key leaders during this period (e.g., King George III, Patrick Henry, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams).
  • SSA.3. Students explain how the present is connected to the past, identifying both similarities and differences between the two, and how some things change over time and some things stay the same. 
  • SSA.5. Students distinguish cause from effect and identify and interpret the multiple causes and effects of historical events
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.6 Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.
  • CCSS.ELA.LITERACY.RL.5.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.


Franklin's Reception at the Court of France 1778

National Museum of American History

Battle at Bunkers Hill

National Museum of American History

The Declaration of Independence

National Museum of American History

Washington Crossing the Delaware

National Museum of American History

Capture of Andre 1780

National Museum of American History

Washington at Prayer

National Museum of American History

Washington and His Staff at Valley Forge

National Museum of American History

Surrender of Cornwallis

National Museum of American History