Lesson Plan

What Caused the War of 1812? Modified Lesson Plan for Students with Special Needs

Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Additional Standards:
Common Core State Standards for Literacy:
RI.4.2. Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
RI.4.4. Determine the meaning of general academic and domain specific words or phrases in a text

Essential Question

What caused the War of 1812?


Objective: By the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify at least one reason why the US went to war with the British and support it with evidence from a primary source document.


Students should already have some background in the War of 1812 before beginning this lesson. For more information on this topic, visit http://warof1812.thinkport.org for lesson plans and resources. For extension activities, visit any of the sites along the trail with your class. The trail sites are located throughout Maryland and offer students the chance to connect the history learned in the classroom with a sense of place. For field trip opportunities and maps of trail locations, please visit http://starspangledtrail.net/ .


Vocabulary: Word Cards and Picture Guide
Chart paper/White Board 
Primary Documents 
Primary Documents Notecatcher (scissors and glue for those using sentence strips) 
Two versions of BCR 



Student Cards

Download Student Cards

Lesson Plan

Download Lesson Plan


Part 1: Previewing Vocabulary 

1. Assign students to work together in pairs or threes. Pass out sets of flashcards to each group. 2. Display the Picture Guide at the front of the class. 3. Read each new word aloud, and inviting a student to read the definition. Point out the picture that accompanies the word and explain its significance. Give the students time to draw a doodle with each word that will help them remember the meaning. 4. Review by randomly pointing to a few words on the list and asking for volunteers to read the word and give a definition. 

Part 2: Setting a purpose 
1. Ask students, what are some reasons that nations go to war? Write their answers on the chart paper. 2. Explain the essential question. Tell students, "Today, we are going to ask 'Why did the US go to war with Great Britain in the War of 1812?" Explain that the class will be using primary source documents, which are letters and journals from people of the time, to look at why people wanted to go to war. 

Part 3: Guided Practice 
1. Read document 1 aloud to the class, pausing at words in the vocabulary list, and modeling how to look at the flashcards to get an idea of what a word means.
 2. After reading, use a think aloud strategy while paraphrasing document 1 in the space provided. 3. Tell students they will read their own documents in their pairs/groups. After they read the document, they should be able to fill out the chart with what Great Britain wants and what the US wants. Assign them to either use the cut and paste sentence strips or write the answers on their own.

 Part 4: Independent Practice 
1. Give students 10 minutes to read and paraphrase
 2. Give students additional 5 minutes to complete the T-chart, and either post it on a wall or hold it up. Use the T-chart as a check for understanding. If there are many errors, call the class back together and go over what they read as a whole class. 


war of 1812, Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Campaign, Modification for Special needs students, Star-Spangled Banner, Star-Spangled Banner Flag

See attached PDF for illustrated vocabulary list.

Assessment Materials

Part 5: Assessment
1. Call class back together. Does what you read match what we said at the beginning about reasons for war? 
2. Assign students a BCR with sentence starters or without. Give 10 minutes to complete. 

Enrichment Activities

Fort McHenryFort Washington, and Fort Monroe all have Civil War-era features, but they also played a role in the events and outcomes of the War of 1812. 

 Additional resources on the War of 1812 can be found at the War of 1812 Virtual Resource Center!

Contact Information

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Last updated: March 7, 2019