Lesson Plan

A Soldier's Notes From Michigan's Big Battle

War of 1812 Soldier

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RH.1, 6-8.RH.2, 6-8.RH.4, 6-8.RH.7
State Standards:
Michigan State Social Studies Standard - Challenges to an Emerging Nation 8-U4.2.3: Establishing America's Place in the World - Explain the changes in America's relationship with other nations by analyzing treaties.
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.


Students will learn of the Battles of the River Raisin that took place in the Michigan Territory during the War of 1812 in Monroe, MI. This lesson will explore maps and primary sources to understand the significance of the battlefields. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to answer the question:

Why should River Raisin and other War of 1812 battlefields be preserved and protected?


Students are going to learn about the Battles of the River Raisin that took place in the Michigan Territory during the War of 1812 in what is now present day Monroe, Michigan. This lesson will explore a secondary document that gives a personal account of the days prior to and during the Battles of the River Raisin. Historians typically analyze the outcome of this war to be a stalemate between Great Britain and the United States. However, the Native Americans were the big losers in the war. They experienced a huge loss of lives and sovereignty.

After several years of war, ambassadors from both countries signed the Treaty of Ghent. This treaty resulted in maintaining United States/ Canadian boundaries as they were before the war which opened the way for westward expansion by the United States on the North American Continent. It also preserved the rights of the United States to freely navigate the open seas. The Treaty of Ghent resulted in lasting peace between Great Britain, what is now Canada and the United States.


*Make one copy per student or per pair of: the four maps, Early United States Map Study Worksheet, and 1813 Journal and Vocabulary. 

*Make one copy per student of the poster rubric and the War of 1812 Exit Ticket. 

*Provide the following resources: Drawing paper, Line paper, Pencils, Color pencils, Optional: Computer Access 

*Decide whether students will be analyzing maps and journal independently or in pairs. 


Make one copy per student or per pair of students.

Download Map A - 1810 US Map

Make one copy per student or per pair of students.

Download Map B - 1820 US Map

Make one copy per student or per pair of students.

Download Frenchtown Battle Map Two

Make one copy per student or per pair of students.

Download Northern US War of 1812 Map

Make one copy per student or per pair of students.

Download Early US Map Study Worksheet

Make one copy per student.

Download Poster Rubric

Make one copy per student or per pair of students.

Download Journal of the Campaign - Year 1813 Vocabulary and Reading

Lesson Hook/Preview

*Explain to students that today they will be learning the significance of the River Raisin Battlefield. Ask them why they think River Raisin Battlefield is preserved and protected. Write answers on the board. 


Section One: Historical Context 

1. Hand out the "Early United States Map Study" worksheet to each student.

2. Hand out a copy of "Map A: 1810 United States Map" and the "Map B: 1820 United States Map" to each student or pair of students. Tell students to Locate Michigan on each map. Ask students to answer the questions on the "Early US Map Study worksheet". 

3. Hand out the "Frenchtown Battle Map Two" and "Northern United States War of 1812 Map". Ask students what new information these additional maps can add to their understanding. 

Section Two: Determining the Facts 

First Reading of Journal

1. The teacher will talk about how historians use personal accounts of events in history to enrich and expand their understanding of the event. Students will an account from the Battles of the River Raisin from a secondary source in 1813.

2. Hand out a copy of the vocabulary and journal for each student.

3. Post on the board the following questions and discuss after reading: 

  • Was this record of a person's experience in the War of 1812 informally for private use or formally for public consumption? After discussion, remind students that this writing was part of a larger work and was in a journal presented by an editor.
  • Personal accounts are highly subjective and will not always be chronological. Please give an example from the text where information was out of sequence or expressed the author's opinion.

Second Reading of Journal

4. Students will re-read the personal account and select one of the numbered descriptive passage from the text they think best represent the author's perspective of the War of 1812. The possible descriptive passages are:

  • Paragraph 3 Payment for volunteer soldiers
  • Paragraph 5 Meeting Kentuckians
  • Paragraph 6 Getting marching orders
  • Paragraph 10 Image of farm/settlement
  • Paragraph 11 Encounter with Frenchmen
  • Paragraph 13 Battle scene
  • Paragraph 16 Description of area
  • Paragraph 20 Memory of bravery 

5. Ask students to draw an image or make a cartoon that depicts an action or environment. On the back of the drawing, students will write a description of the drawing and why the image is important to understanding the Battles of the River Raisin.

Section Three: Remembering the Raisin 

1. The teacher asks students why it may be important to remember the events of the Battles of the River Raisin as Michigan history and as U.S. military history. Students of history may enjoy the stories and valor of the River Raisin as well as learn from the battle's outcome and impact on the rest of the War of 1812.

2. The teacher asks students, "How might we remember Michigan's biggest battle?" The teacher makes students aware of River Raisin National Battlefield Park as a place that holds the memory of the battle. The students will begin to think about the purpose(s) of preserving battlefields for communities to visit. A discussion may include issues of land use, its educational value, value as a place to pay tribute and honor veterans, economic value through tourism and what would be appropriate to have at a National Battlefield Park (i.e. monuments, buildings, trails, etc.). A debate could be setup for students to discuss what would be appropriate or not appropriate at a National Battlefield Park. For example, should there be a children's playground or should the site be treated as sacred/hallowed ground? 

3. Students will brainstorm and write down ideas on why it is important to preserve Battlefields in preparation for completing the short answer on the Exit Ticket exercise later in the lessons.

Section Four: Poster and Conclusion 

4. Hand out the poster rubric. Explain that students will collect resources that give information on the Battles of the River Raisin or Frenchtown and create a digital poster, a PowerPoint or a hand drawn poster with at least three resources.

5. If time allows, the students can present their projects or posters to the class.

6. As an assessment of student understanding, have the students complete the War of 1812 Exit Ticket. Collect the exit tickets for feedback. 


See "Journal of the Campaign – Year 1813 Vocabulary and Reading" for important vocabulary terms and definitions. 

Assessment Materials

War of 1812 Exit Ticket

Students will complete the War of 1812 Exit Ticket to demonstrate understanding of the war's significance and River Raisin Battle.

War of 1812 Exit Ticket

Download Assessment

Supports for Struggling Learners

*Teacher can choose hetereogenous pairs for map and journal analysis. 

*Highlight or annotate journal entry for struggling readers. 

Enrichment Activities

*Have students create a timeline showing the events of the War of 1812. Students can create a timeline by hand or use the printable timeline tool. http://www.readwritethink.org/materials/timeline/

*Have students locate and learn about the different French settlements in the United States that planted Ribbon Farms and write two similarities and two differences. Students may look in New Orleans, Detroit and Monroe Michigan to find Ribbon farm history.

Additional Resources

*The Remember the Raisin website contains an excellent, detailed history of the River Raisin battle, www.riverraisinbattlefield.org

*River Raisin Battlefield Park website contains information on visiting and supporting the Battlefield in Monroe, Michigan. www.nps.gov/rira

*Glogster EDU is a safe and private classroom management platform used by many educators around the world. This resource helps students to create and exhibit online posters. www.glogster.com or http://edu.glogster.com 

Check out: http://www.glogster.com/alysofast/river-raisin-battle-war-of-1812/g-6lcm1n5q4s9vb1p2g9tgga0

Related Lessons or Education Materials

Naveaux, Ralph. Invaded on All Sides. Marceline, MO: Walsworth Press, 2008.

Livesey, Robert and A.G. Smith. Discovering Canada: The Defenders. Brighton, Mass.: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1994.

Early American Imprints Second Series 1801- 1819. Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1976

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Last updated: August 3, 2015