Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tried it Tuesday-Causes of the American Revolution with Smarties

I love starting back to school on a Tuesday...if only every weekend was a three day weekend! I'm linking up with Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday

Last week my students and I studied the causes of the American Revolution. Earlier this year Mary from Fit to be Fourth blogged about a Smarties activity she used to introduce her students to the causes of the American Revolution. She was so kind to send it to me.

Since I only have 14 students I had my student teacher be the Queen. I was Parliament, two of my students were tax collectors and the rest were colonists. My student teacher read out the new tax laws while the tax collectors collected the taxes from their classmates. They passed the "taxes" to me and I passed a large share onto the king. The tax collectors were able to keep one Smartie for each new tax, I as Parliament kept two and we gave the rest to the Queen.
The students got very vocal about the situation and quickly let us know that they did not find it very fair.

As you can see the Queen had a very large share.

The colonists did not end up with much.

Once the activity was over, we had the students reflect on how they felt about the activity (after I gave them all more Smarties so they stopped thinking I was the unfair one,) and how they thought the colonists felt when they had to give up their money.

It was a fantastic activity that really helped the kids have a taste of what the colonists may have felt.

American Revolution Linky

What have you tried recently? What do you do to help your students understand the American Revolution?


  1. What a cool simulation to help your students empathize with the colonists during the American Revolution. I used to teach Social Studies (now I teach all science in grade 6), but this is a perfect example of how to engage kids in thought-provoking discussions about our nation's history! Thanks for sharing :)

    Kate's Classroom Cafe

  2. I had forgotten all about this, but really want to try this! Thank you for the reminder.
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  3. What a good lesson! I'm sure they grasped the concept of taxation at that time with your activity. Thanks for sharing.
    The Balanced Classroom

  4. Love it! Gets the kids very invested in the Revolutionary War right from the start of the unit!

    Polka Dots & Teaching Tots

  5. I love it! What a great hook! I remember when Mary blogged about it, so glad you had success too!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  6. This is great with the Smarties! I use a similar activity called "King's M&M's" for the American Revolution (or I used to when I still taught SS:). I really did let the King keep the extra M&M's too to "authentic" a little of the feeling of the angry colonists. :) I'm such a meanie! Thanks for linking up!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  7. This is a great idea! Thanks for linking up so I can revisit it in the spring!


  8. I'm glad you enjoyed this activity. Students definitely get the message loud and clear. Thank you for the shout out!

    Fit to be Fourth
    Follow me on Bloglovin

  9. Oh, I can hear the cries of injustice already! Great share!

  10. Bethany,

    This is great. Our second graders just did an activity like this for Columbus Day and at the end they had to give almost all their supplies away to the queen. The kids loved it!

    I love teaching kids lessons through getting them to realize how unfair situations can be. nice.


  11. I had a classroom economy and once we started the revolutionary war unit I had another class come in and announce that they are charging our class taxes - and we had to pay them the money they earned. They were not happy about this at all! I like the smarties idea too!

  12. I used this activity this year, and my kids LOVED it! They learned so much, thank you!

  13. I'm a student teacher this year and I'm doing it in my classroom this week using Starbursts--thank you for sharing the great idea!

  14. I love it, and I'm thinking about using it with my 8th graders GA History. Just starting American Revolution

  15. I love it, and I'm thinking about using it with my 8th graders GA History. Just starting American Revolution

  16. I'm curious, how many smarties did you give each student? thx

  17. Hello friends i just did a bunch of things with my class and they had lots of fun so i also tried this too. Bye!

  18. I did this with my 4th grade students last year. I used skittles and I had a king/queen and 2 "henchmen" (tax collectors). After they reflected on how they felt about how much money they had to pay, we took it a step further and separated the money the king/queen received into groups that was spent on the colonists for things such as the French and Indian War, protection from outside forces, etc. It gave them an opportunity to see that there were 2 sides to the story. They then got to research both sides and write paper on which side they thought was more in the right and why. Amazing lesson and allowed all my students to see that there is always 2 sides to every story.

  19. Of course, the only problem with this activity is that it continues to give students glorified images of the American Revolution that do not accurately portray the situation at the time.