Wanting her students to really understand the American Revolution, fifth grade teacher Jackie Lewis found a way to engage the kids.

Principal Hannah Park recounts, “Jackie Lewis did a very cool project with the kids. They learned the American Revolution through putting together a musical.The kids did everything from choreographing movement, costuming and prop design, to putting together the program and writing acknowledgements.”

“The best way to learn is to make it come to life,” says Ms. Lewis. Using three separate groups, all 63 fifth graders put together a musical play. The musical, told from the perspective of Betsy Ross with a bit of attitude, includes all of the famous historical characters. Each student had two or three parts, memorized their lines as well as 12 songs. “Instead of studying from a book about the American Revolution the kids studied the songs, dances and lines in context; they learned so much more from the play than I even thought,” exclaimed Ms. Lewis. “For instance instead of just reading about taxation without representation we were able to discuss one of their favorite songs in the play called, “Taxation.” We discussed the meaning of the song and asked many questions like why does this song have a sassy, angry feel to it? That kind of questioning promotes critical thinking and a deeper learning.”

Project based, hands-on learning gets kids excited about the subject they are studying and when that happens, students’ base knowledge grows and critical thinking expands. Ms. Lewis beams, “They are talented and incredible kids, every part of what they did was phenomenal.”

Interested in learning about ‘Taxation’ from the 5th grade class? Check it out!