Lesson Plan

The Crucial Hour

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Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Seventh Grade
Subject:
Colonial History, Geography, History, Military and Wartime History, Revolutionary War
Duration:
20 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 24
Setting:
classroom
National/State Standards:
NYS:
Gr. 4: 3 Worlds Meet; Revolutionary War in NYS
Gr. 5: History of the US.
Gr. 7: Un. 2, Sec. 3, Obj. 4
NYSED Standards:
1,2,3,5
US:
Gr. 4 St. 1 A,B; 2 A,B; 3 A,B,C,D,E
Gr. 5,7,8 St. Era 2 St. 1 A,B; 2 A,C; 3 B,C; Era 3 St. 1 A,C; 2 C
Keywords:
Battle of Saratoga, Battles of Saratoga, Saratoga Battlefield, Revolutionary War, American Revolution, geography, maps, military history, history, social studies, primary sources

Overview

Understanding the Battles of Saratoga can be challenging, with two days of fighting separated by 2+ weeks, much of it happening on the same ground.  This lesson condenses and simplifies the details.

Objective(s)

 Students will be able to:

  1. read a small, basic map
  2. identify several map features
  3. understand how geographic features affected the outcome of the Battles of Saratoga




Background

The activity is designed to be reviewed by a teacher, photocopied, and distributed to students.  Intended to be a simple exercise in analyzing and understanding how geography influenced decision making by both American and British armies in the Battles of Saratoga.  The activity was originally planned for class use while visiting the battlefield, but it could also be used pre-visit in conjunction with the Saratoga National Historical Park virtual tour, or as a stand-alone activity.



Materials

 PDF documents:

"The Crucial Hour" student worksheet

Teacher's answer key



Procedure

Distribute worksheets to students. Explain how geography can have major influences on human activity, such as building roads along level ground when possible, building bridges over streams, or establishing farms near rivers or other water sources.

Explain to students that geography also influenced decision making in the American Revolution and the Battles of Saratoga.  American forces had used geography to their advantage.  They expected the British invasion south into New York State in 1777 would use the Hudson Valley--the river and the road beside it-- to travel to and capture Albany.  As seen in the activity "Why Here?", the American army built formidable defenses on Bemis Heights, the bluffs overlooking the Hudson.  

As the British tried sweeping inland (west) over a 2-mile area, around where they thought the Americans might be, they encountered American soldiers on John Freeman's Farm, the starting point for this activity.

Assessment

 Answer key available as a downloadable PDF document.



Park Connections

 American use of geography was a crucial factor in their victory in the Battles of Saratoga.



Extensions

 In season, school groups are able to sign up for free, self-guiding battlefield tours. 



Additional Resources

 Have students make their own maps of their school, community, or even Saratoga National Historical Park.



Vocabulary

fortifications, artillery, redoubt