Sunday, February 23, 2014

Redcoats and Petticoats- A must read for the American Revolution!

Hey there!

How are you?  How's the weather?  Yes, I really want to know!

We went from ice and snow last week to 70 degree weather this week.  It's mind boggling.  The 70 degree weather was so wonderful!  I didn't want to come in from recess!!  They aren't kidding about vitamin D from the sun.  It really does make you feel so much better to sit in the sun for even 10 minutes!  It totally changes your mood!  The gray and cold is pretty depressing to me.  Is it to you?  I think it makes me lethargic.  Does it do that to anyone else?  To those of you who live in the north and who have been beaten down by these storms, bless your hearts!!  I really feel for you!!

Anyway, I'm sure you aren't here to hear about the weather.  If you're like us, it's all that they have on tv when we are amidst a storm.  It gets old quick, so I'll move on to my must read for this week!!  The topic is social studies!!
If you've been reading our blog, then you know we've been working on the American Revolution.  It's my favorite subject in social studies.  I spend way too much time on it because I love it so much!  And, since I love it, my kids usually do too.  I need to remember that when I have to teach about government in our next unit, which I do not love.  If I pretend to love it, maybe my kids will get just as excited about the three branches of government as they do about the Battle of Lexington and Concord, right?  Maybe not.  But, I'll try!

Anywho, there are so many wonderful picture books that go with the American Revolution.  It's hard to pick the ones we have time for because I want to do them all (I know you aren't surprised!).  Well, this week we read Redcoats and Petticoats by Katherine Kirkpatrick.
This is a great story for upper elementary or even for middle grades.  The illustrations are beautiful and the language is excellent.  You can do so much with this book!

This is a historical fiction book based on a true story of Nancy Strong, a spy during the Revolutionary war from Setauket, Long Island.  It has great information in the back of the book that explains the "true story" part behind the book.

Basically, the British took over Setauket towards the beginning of the war. Nancy's husband is considered a traitor and the Redcoats come in and take him away.  Because of the Quartering Act, British soldiers move into their home.  Nancy moves her family out of the home and becomes a spy.  She sends her son, Thomas on errands and he unknowingly provides her with information on the whereabouts of the Patriot soldiers.  She then communicates with another spy across the bay by using her petticoats.  Thomas thinks she's lost her mind for doing so much laundry and for hanging dry laundry on the line, but she refuses to tell her what she is doing so that he is kept safe.  You don't find out until the end of the book, when George Washington comes to visit, that she was actually sending messages that helped Washington in the war.

Also, it talks about her husband being taken to a prison ship, the Jersey, and that Nancy and Thomas went to trade fresh vegetables (scarce at the time) to get her husband off of the ship.  Her husband then has to go into hiding and doesn't return until after the war.

And, in case you're interested, in the information in the back of the book, it tells how the Setauket spy ring was instrumental in keeping the traitor Benedict Arnold from taking over West Point.  It's not what this book is about, but I think it's interesting to know since we teach about Benedict Arnold as well.

This is a great book because it shows what the Americans were going through and how they rallied together during this difficult time.  The kids are also amazed that it's based on a true story!  I think it is a great example of historical fiction, and the author even explains in the back how she used what really happened and how she tweaked it to write the story.  There is no proof that Nancy's son actually helped in the war, but by having a child playing a role in the story, she made it accessible and engaging for students.  We actually talked about that and my kids totally understood when I explained that Thomas may not have actually helped.  I asked, "Why do you think she put him in here as a character, then, if maybe he wasn't really involved?  How does this effect the audience?"  They said, "Well, kids will like the book even more if they know that a kid was helping a spy for George Washington!"  Hooray!!
So, what did I do with this book besides read it?  Well, we used it in Language Arts (you know how I love to integrate!)

First off, when I read it the first time, we made inferences.  (Sorry for the dark picture!)
On the second read, we worked on cause and effect.  It's a long story, but I did read it a total of 3 times.  Within it, I had picked out a few places to do a close read, and honestly, the more you read a book, the more things you can find to engage in discussion and questioning.

We worked on cause and effect because I knew my students needed a review.  On our last social studies test, one of the questions said, "What was the effect of the Boston Tea Party?"  Most of them got it, but I had quite a few students just give me the events of the Boston Tea Party.  So, we needed to review it because I wanted them to understand what effect meant!
Hopefully this helped.  We did it together and they pasted it into their reading journals!

When we were out of school last week, I knew I would be reading this book, so I had a chance to make these sheets.  There is a ton more you could do with the book, but I've only used it for a week so far.  You could do two weeks for sure!!  So, I created a product with all of the possibilities.  

There are flipbook activities as well as sheets you can paste into notebooks and there is a "quiz" that you can use once you are finished with the book.  We still have a lot we can do with this book!!!  If you could use this resource, click any of the images above and check it out!

Well, I'm off to work on getting prepped for parent-teacher conferences for all of next week.  I have all of my students' files that I brought home and a bunch of paperwork I'm behind on filing that I need to share with parents.  If you want to help, you are more than welcome to come over and help me file!  



Next week's linky- Language Arts


  1. Hi guys! I am so excited that you LOVE Social Studies as much as me! If you have a Promethean board, I just made an extensive flipchart about the Mass. Bay Colony - I know it's before the American Revolution, but maybe for another time. Also, I'll be posting this later when the weather improves - there are still parts of the Battle Road that are preserved so I'll get pictures. I think it's amazing that parts of the original road still exist after all this time.

  2. I can see why you love this unit so much - so many great stories to use and connections to make. It is too bad that you have to spend your day getting ready for conferences but I am sure that extra prep helps during the conference time. I'll be thinking of you this week : )

  3. I had not heard of this book before. While I am done with our unit on the American Revolution, I am adding it to my list of books for next year. Thank you so much for sharing it!
    On the Trail of Learning

  4. It's so funny that you wrote about this book because it was recommended on my Amazon list, and I JUST got it in the mail over the weekend! I will have to buy your packet for it. Can't wait to use it!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late
    Follow me on Bloglovin!


We love comments!! Like, super love them!! We like to reply by email (so you can see our response and we can chat back and forth) so please make sure that option is turned on in your profile settings or leave your email address here! Thanks again for taking time to comment!! It means a lot!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...