Lesson Plan

Why Here?

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Subject:
Colonial History, Geography, History, Military and Wartime History, Physical Science, Reading, Revolutionary War, Science and Technology, Social Studies, Transportation
Duration:
15-20 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 24
Setting:
classroom
National/State Standards:
NYS Content:
Gr. 4: 3 Worlds Meet; Revolutionary War in NYS
Gr. 5: History of the US
Gr. 7: Unit 2, Sect. 3, Obj. 4
NYSED Standards:
1,2,3,5
US Standards:
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

The question is often raised, “Why did the Battles of Saratoga happen where they did?” Simply put, the Americans made excellent use of geography to limit British options for movement while maximizing their own chances for a successful defense.

Objective(s)

 Students will be able to:

  1. read a small, basic map for understanding;
  2. identify several map features
  3. understand how geography influenced decision making and outcomes in the Battles of Saratoga




Background

 This activity is designed to be reviewed by the teacher, photocopied, and distributed to students.  It is intended to be a simple exercise in analyzing and understanding how geography influenced American and British decision making 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 Saratoga National Historical Park's virtual tour, or as a stand-alone activity.



Materials

PDF document downloads: 

"Why Here?" 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 that geography also influenced decision making in the American Revolution and the Battles of Saratoga.  American forces tried to use geography to their advantage by using a very important geographic feature: the Hudson River.  Key to travel, communications, and even military raids since well before European settlement, the Hudson was a crucial pathway.  The British army invading New York in 1777 wanted to follow the Hudson River and the road built beside part of it as their route to Albany, a small but important port city in 1777.  American forces anticipated this, and their response helped secure their eventual victory.

Assessment

Answer key is available as a downloadable PDF document.

Park Connections

 A primary key to American success in the Battles of Saratoga was their effective use of geography.



Extensions

Saratoga NHP offers free educational programming, both at the park and at area schools.

School visits to the park, accompanied by a self-guiding battlefield tour, can greatly enhance student understanding of how crucial geography was to the American victory at Saratoga.



Additional Resources

 Have students construct their own maps or models of a given area, such as their school, their neighborhood, or even Saratoga National Historical Park.



Vocabulary

fortifications, ridges