American Revolution Lesson Plan: Important Events and Figures

Submitted by: Rachel Zindler

Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this American Revolution lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 6-12, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the important events of the revolution. Students will become familiar with key historical figures from the American Revolution, and apply research and writing skills as they study a key figure of interest to them.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Study the important events of the American Revolution
  2. Become familiar with key historical figures from the American Revolution
  3. Practice research and writing skills as they focus on one key figure


  • Print a class set or set up projection for the Research Graphic Organizer
  • Print or setup enough computers for all students to complete the Research Quiz
  • Print the Vocabulary page (enough for students to complete in pairs). Go to the Activity Page and click the Vocabulary tab at the top of the screen
  • Print the Activity Page (enough for the class)
  • Computers
  • Access to BrainPOP
  • Interactive Whiteboard (optional)


militia; colonial; minutemen; congress; pamphlet; independence; recruit; traitor; supremacy; guerilla; source; library; encyclopedia; periodical; audio/visual; internet search; accurate; secondary source; primary source; interview


Log on to BrainPOP and preview the American Revolution and Research movies and review related features. Print up suggested materials and set up computer and interactive whiteboard if you plan to use one.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Tell students that they will be practicing their research skills while learning about the important historical figures from the American Revolution. Tim and Moby will help get them started!
  2. Screen the American Revolution movie twice. The first time students should just listen and watch. Remember that you can turn on the closed captions to support students who learn best when reading (click the button marked cc at the bottom right of the movie window). Also, remember to pause at various points for discussion. These are good opportunities to prompt students to consider new concepts as they arise.
  3. Turn and talk about the movie. What did they learn that they didn’t already know? What surprised them?
  4. Before viewing the movie a second time have students work in pairs to complete the Vocabulary Activity from memory. Don’t worry if they can’t complete them. They will have time during and after the second viewing of the movie.
  5. Hand out copies of the Activity Page. Then screen the movie a second time. As they watch, students should fill in the top half of the page with the names of the key figures from the movie and fill in any missing definitions from the Vocabulary sheet.
  6. Give your students time to work with their partner on the bottom half of the Activity Page.
  7. Tell your class that as part of their unit on the American Revolution they will research one of the key figures from that chapter of history. Using their completed Activity Page students can rank their order of preference of whom they’d prefer to study. The page includes George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Benedict Arnold, Thomas Paine, John Paul Jones, and Lord Cornwallis. You may also want to add other options such as Paul Revere, William Dawes, Samuel Adams, Samuel Seabury, Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams, King George III, or if students have already been studying this topic they may have interest in other key figures. Students can read more about some of them on the FYI features from the movie or the FYI from the Causes of the American Revolution movie.
  8. Once they have chosen their subjects (or you have assigned them based on their preferences) discuss with students what they think they will need to do to prepare to research their topic. What kinds of materials and resources might they use?
  9. Give students the Research Quiz. They can do this on paper or online if you have enough computers. You may want to compile a class chart of the results to use as a pre-assessment, to guide your teaching of research skills.
  10. Screen the Research movie, remembering to use the closed captions and pausing for discussion where necessary.
  11. Hand out the Graphic Organizer "Research Resources" to students. They can use this to plan the types of resources they will use to collect information on their subjects.
  12. Bring students to the library to begin research. They may research in pairs or individually, depending on your goals. If some need more structure to help them keep track of information you may give them a blank Graphic Organizer from BrainPOP Educators.
  13. Support students as they continue to collect information and develop their reports on their subjects. You may want to provide mini-lessons on how to write outlines, introductions, or how to organize their report. BrainPOP’s movie on Outlines is a great resource for this.
  14. Have students exchange drafts of their reports with classmates to revise and improve them before turning in final copies.
  15. As a culminating event, have a Patriot’s Party! Students can dress as their historical figure, eat food from the time period, and even learn early American folk dances. Remind them that they should have conversations "in character" about period-relevant subjects!

Extension Activity:

There are many great resources on BrainPOP to support this study. Students can research more about George Washington, The Causes of the American Revolution, The Declaration of Independence, and many other things. There are also several more features that can be explored on the American Revolution page, including the Experiment and the Quiz.