The Fight for Independence: A View From the Front Lines

Rhonda Watton, Templeton Middle School, Sussex, Wisconsin

DESIGN LEVEL: Middle School



This lesson invites students to explore the experiences of a Revolutionary War solder, including items used and the challenges they faced.


Students will . . .

  • Examine objects used during the war.
  • Analyze images of soldiers, read primary sources and observe the challenges soldiers faced during the Revolutionary War.
  • Discover how soldiers maintained their health in camp.
  • Research a soldier and share their experiences during the war.




Recommended Time

One 50-minute class session, along with independent research time and presentation preparation.



Object Analysis: Divide students into four groups for a jigsaw activity using the thinking routine “See, Think, Wonder” to examine four objects (cartridge box, powder horn, canteen and bayonet) used by Continental soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Ask students to consider what they see, what they think about the object and what they wonder about the object? Students should then share what they learned or thought about each object, and predict the object’s use.

Image Analysis:  Students should analyze the Soldiers in Uniform watercolor drawn by a French officer featuring Patriot soldiers equipped with several of the items examined during the object analysis.  Have students share whether what they thought about the soldiers equipment was correct.  Discuss other parts of the soldier’s uniforms and equipment as time allows.

Video Analysis: Students should watch the video about Deborah Sampson as well as the two videos featuring historian Bill Fowler’s discussion of the hardships of eighteenth-century warfare and the struggle to supply the Continental Army. Students should record or sketchnote some of the struggles faced by Continental soldiers.

Text Analysis: Benjamin Rush, a well-known physician and civic leader, provided a manual detailing how soldiers should remain healthy while in service.  Students should read Directions for preserving the health of soldiers : recommended to the consideration of the officers of the Army of the United States and record three ways soldiers could maintain or improve their health.



Formative Assessment:  Students will take notes on what they learn about the objects, what life on the battlefield was like and what challenges the men faced.

Summative Assessment:  Students will research a Revolutionary War Soldier and create a short Flipgrid video sharing that soldier’s experience including the unit in which they served, where they served and what objects that person would have used in camp and battle.


Standards Addressed


Standard SS.Hist3: Wisconsin students will connect past events, people, and ideas to the present; use different perspectives to draw conclusions; and suggest current implications.

Standard SS.Hist4: Wisconsin students will evaluate a variety of primary and secondary sources to interpret the historical context, intended audience, purpose, or author’s point of view (Historical Methodology).