Student Activities

Historical Characters

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Social Studies


In this activity, students will learn about nine key participants in the Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma and the Siege of Fort Brown. They will discover how the personalities of these key leaders helped them during these clashes and influenced their outcome. Students them compare their own personality traits to discover how they are like or different from these leaders. 


  1. Define/have students look up the definition of characteristic. Merriam Webster defines characteristic as "a special quality of appearance that makes an individual or group different from others."
  2. Hand out the student worksheet "Everyone is a Character" in the Materials section.
  3. Have students complete the worksheet and share their answers.
  4. Tell students they will learn about nine important people from the U.S.-Mexican War. These people were in the Battle of Palo Alto, the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, and/or the Siege of Fort Brown.
  5. Hand out the Biography Cards to each student or group of students. (Option: Have each student/group review one or all nine people.)
  6. After students have read the biographies, pass out the student worksheet "Who am I Like?"
  7. Have students complete the worksheet and share their answers.


- Have a class discussion about how a person's character helps or hinders them in a battle or stressful situation.

- Create an Army recruitment poster featuring the qualities a soldier needs.

- Have students choose one of the key leaders they admire and write a short essay about how they have or can develop the qualities of that person.  


skirmish: a brief fight
tribunal: a court of justice
strategy: a carefully devised plan of action to achieve a goal
tactics: organizing and maneuvering forces in battle to achieve a goal
lancer: Mexican soldier on horseback; primary weapon is a lance
bombard: to attack with artillery
artillery: cannons
cannoneers: soldiers on a cannon crew
drill:  a type of military training, particularly in marching and weapons handling
dragoon: U.S. soldier on horseback; primary weapons are the sword and pistol
magazine: a stock of ammunition or other supplies kept in a storehouse
besiege: to surround a city or stronghold with armed forces in order to bring about its surrender



Download Everyone is a Character worksheet

Download Leader Biography Cards

Download "Who am I Like?" worksheet

Last updated: September 17, 2015