Our lesson plans are divided into eight collections.

Our lesson plans provide teachers with a wide selection of tools and approaches to teaching their students about the major achievements of the American Revolution—our independence, our republic, our national identity, and our ideals of liberty, equality, natural and civil rights, and responsible citizenship. These lessons use images, primary source documents, and period artifacts to help students understand the Revolution—the defining event in American history. They introduce students to major historical interpretations of the Revolution and teach them to read critically. They provide strategies for teaching students to research and interpret Revolutionary events and people, and the introduce students to the global dimension of the American Revolution.


This detail of an artillery battery firing from James Peale's painting of the Battle of Princeton illustrates an image students can use to interpret images of the American Revolution.

Teaching Students to Interpret the Visual Record

The aim of Imagining the Revolution lesson plans is to teach students how to interpret the visual record of the American Revolution, which consists of visual arts—paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture. Imagining the Revolution asks students to go beyond the obvious questions about the literal accuracy of images to explore the intent of the artists and the meaning they and their contemporaries attached to the people and events they depicted.


Imagining the Revolution


The diary of a Revolutionary War officer is among the primary source documents students are called on to interpret in the Revolution on Paper lessons.

Teaching Students to Interpret Primary Source Documents

The aim of Revolution on Paper lesson plans is to teach students how to interpret primary source documents, acquaint them with the nature of documentary evidence, and to introduce them to some of the most important documents of the American Revolution. Some lessons address great state papers, while other focus on private documents, including letters and diaries.


Revolution on Paper


The lock of a Charleville musket, showing French and American marks, illustrates details used to interpret artifacts of the Revolutionary War.


Teaching Students to Interpret Artifacts as Primary Sources

The aim of Objects of Revolution lesson plans is to teach students how to interpret surviving artifacts of the Revolutionary era and relate them to the contexts in which they were made and used. The things people made and used in the American Revolution complement the documentary and visual record and offer insights about life in the Revolutionary era that cannot be found in other sources.


Objects of Revolution


Historian David McCullough, seen here at work on his typewriter, is one of the writers whose work is featured in The Revolutionary Conversation lessons.

Teaching Students to Evaluate Historical Interpretations

The aim of The Revolutionary Conversation lesson plans is to introduce students to the art of historical interpretation through the use of short, carefully chosen selections by some of the finest historians of the American Revolution. As teachers we want our students to think critically about the past, and there is no better way to do that than to share examples of the finest thinkers on the American Revolution marshaling evidence to frame interpretations of the past.




Teaching Students to Interpret Events

The Why America is Free lesson plans are companions to the Institute book, Why America is Free. The lessons focus on particular episodes in the American Revolution to illustrate how those events relate to the development of freedom in the United States. The aim of the Why America is Free lessons are to introduce students to using primary source evidence to reconstruct historical events and then to place those events in a broader narrative context.




James DeLancey, a New York LoyaliJames DeLancey, a Loyalist officer, is seen here in uniform in a portrait painted in New York City during the Revolutionary War.

Teaching Students to Interpret the People who made the Revolution

The aim of Revolutionary Characters lesson plans is to teach students to frame valid historical questions about the major individuals and groups involved in the American Revolution and to conduct the basic research and interpretive analysis required to answer them.  Revolutionary Characters challenges students to ask and answer questions about the ideas and motives of historical actors by using primary sources.



Chinese workers carry tea in this watercolor from a 1790 album on Tea Production.

Teaching Students to Place American History in Global Contexts

The aim of The Revolutionary World lesson plans is to acquaint students with the international and global dimension of the American Revolution, which was tied to the maritime trade, the rise of consumerism in western Europe, the competition between European powers, questions about slavery and freedom, resistance to imperial regulation in the Americas, and other patterns and trends that can only be understood from the perspective of world history.


The Revolutionary World

Teaching Students about the Enduring Consequences of the Revolution

The aim of the Legacies of the Revolution lesson plans is to acquaint students with the consequences of the American Revolution over more than two hundred and thirty years, including the enduring influence of the Declaration of Independence and the relationship between the American Revolution and abolitionism, the shaping of the women’s right’s movement and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, and less obvious ways in which the Revolution has shaped American life, like the ways in which we honor veterans and relations between Indians and other Americans.

Legacies of the Revolution