Lesson Plan

A Question of Loyalties: Mount Welby During the War of 1812 (Political Systems)

Mount Welby's residents view the burning of Washington during the summer of 1814.

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RH.1, 6-8.RH.2, 6-8.RH.4, 6-8.RH.6, 6-8.RH.7, 6-8.RH.8, 6-8.RH.9, 6-8.RH.10, 4.RI.1, 4.RI.2, 4.RI.3, 4.RI.4, 4.RI.6, 4.RI.7, 4.RI.9, 4.RI.10, 5.RI.1, 5.RI.2, 5.RI.3, 5.RI.4, 5.RI.6, 5.RI.7, 5.RI.9, 5.RI.10
Additional Standards:
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies Standards
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words.


Students will identify and explain the principles of the United States government expressed in stories, symbols, poems, songs, and landmarks.

Students will interpret fiction and non-fiction passages about people, places, and events related to the American political system.


Oxon Cove Park has a rich history that includes the story of the Debutts, a British family that came to America in the late 1700s. The Debutts family finally settled on a hilltop overlooking the Potomac River that today is known as Oxon Cove Park. It is from this hilltop that Mrs. DeButts witnessed the British capture of Alexandria and the Burning of Washington. The family even found Congreve Rockets on this hill!

This lesson plan can be used from 4th to 8th grades.


Download Star Spangled Banner Lyrics

Includes readings, graphics, and a map.

Download Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail Brochure

Download Mrs. DeButts' Letter

Download Congreve Rockets

Download A Question of Loyalties Reading

Download Burning of Washington DC

Download War Comes to Mount Welby (Ships in the River)

Printable versions of two short backgrounds readings necessary for the lesson.

Download Background Readings


(Some links below also attached for easy printing)

The DeButts of Mount Welby 

War Come to Mount Welby

A Question of Loyalties  

A Day and Night of Horrors

Rockets on the Hill

Ships in the River

Part 1.

Reviewing The Star Spangled Banner

Activity 1: Discussion and Analysis

Read The Star-Spangled Banner and discuss each line in the first stanza.

Activity 2: Review and Map Identification

Review the song's historical context with the students and point out the following locations on a classroom map: Upper Marlboro, Bladensburg, Baltimore, Fort McHenry, and Mount Welby (present day Oxon Cove Park/Oxon Hill Farm), home of the DeButts family.

  • Ask students where your school is located in relationship to these sites.
  • Explain to students why Francis Scott Key was on a British ship during the Battle of Baltimore and bombardment of Fort McHenry.

Activity 3. Analysis and Research

Instruct the students to write a paragraph or draw a picture on why they think The Star-Spangled Banner song was chosen to be our National Anthem. Ask students to find out when the song became our National Anthem.

Part 2:
Oxon Cove Park and The Star Spangled Banner

Activity 1: Viewing The Resources

Activity 2: Writing

Ask students to draw a picture or write a story on how they would have felt, as an American citizen, to find a British congreve rocket on their hill. Remind the students that a congreve rocket is what Francis Scott Key refers to in The Star Spangled Banner when he writes about the " rockets red glare."


Part 3:

Putting It All Together

Lesson Plan

Activity1: Writing

  • Review The Star-Spangled Banner, the passage from the Mrs. DeButts letter, and the background materials for this lesson plan.
  • Instruct students to write about two different perspectives of the War of 1812.
    Francis Scott Key
    Mrs. DeButts
  • Do you think Mrs Debutts would have thought The Star-Spangled Banner an appropriate choice for our National Anthem?

Tell students that they must provide examples from both texts to support their product.

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Last updated: July 26, 2015