Protesting British Taxation Without Representation

                     Forming an opinion on colonial taxes. 

I like to teach history, that is no secret (if you have followed along on this blog at all you probably know that ;) ) But I have really come to love teaching different perspectives of historical events.  I think it is so great to give the students primary documents and other sources of information from an historical event and have them determine who was right, wrong, or otherwise. I like when they are able to make up their minds rather than have me tell them "the right answer" and perspective.   Such was the case in this lesson I did about the idea of Britain taxing the American colonists in the 1760s and 1770s.

We learned about the taxes that were imposed upon the American colonies (the Stamp Act, the Sugar Act, the Townshend Acts) like we have in the past.  We read about them.  We watched videos.  Nothing too out of the ordinary.  We also learned about the Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, and the Intolerable Acts (Liberty's Kids - The Complete Series affiliate link also made some appearances here in our lessons because, well, they love it!)


Once all that learning was done (over the course of a few weeks), I asked the kids to take out all of the reading materials we had used.  I then posed the question, "Do you think the taxes that King George III and parliament imposed upon the colonies were fair?"  After some discussion, in which they all were CERTAIN that the taxes were fair, I asked the kids to create a t-chart.  On that t-chart, one side was labeled "Yes" (they were fair) and the other was labeled "No" (they were not fair).  I asked them to look through all of the reading materials and list everything from the pages that would point towards the taxes being fair and everything that pointed to them being unfair.  

Now, I know that fair and unfair are subjective, but the kids seemed to understand that they were looking at the taxes through two different sides.  They combed through their reading materials and filled in the t-chart, citing the evidence as they went along.

Once their t-charts were complete, the kids decided on which side they stood.  Did they think King George III was in the right?  I mean, those were his colonies.  Or were the taxes out of line?  The students wrote a paragraph detailing their opinion, citing evidence from the text.

Next, the students drew a picture of their own colonist as if that colonist was at a protest rally.  The colonist was to have his or her hand up, so that a sign could be held, like that which would be seen at a protest march or gathering.  The kids got so into this!  They really love drawing. 

Once the colonists were drawn and the opinion pieces were written, all of it was hung on the wall to look like one big colonial protest!

All in all, this came out just as I wanted.  The kids were thinking, used what they had learned over many different lessons, and got to be creative all in one shot.  It was just what I wanted to happen.

taxation without representation



  1. What an amazing project! The colonists came out amazing ~ and the signs ~ WOW! How did they design the colonists? Did you use a directed drawing or how to draw approach? How fun!

    1. No directed drawing. I just told them to draw a colonist that took up the entire piece of paper. They used their social studies book and other materials we had around the classroom to create their colonists. :)


  2. Thank you for all of these ideas and resources!!!


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