Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Battle of Yorktown

It's the last week of school here and there's so much going on! I decided, since it is my last week with this class, that they could suggest topics for my blog post this week. They made a wide variety of suggestions, quite a few of which I had already blogged on. The winner come from Sophie, who suggested I write about the Battle of Yorktown.

As you may already know, the Battle of Yorktown ended the Revolutionary War. We teach the Revolutionary War in 4th grade at Quest, mostly through various simulations. So one of our last activities was the Battle of Yorktown.

To give you the lay of the land - Quest is a private school, so our physical presence is different than any public school I have seen, and different than most private schools, too. Our main building used to be a public library and is located at one end of a strip mall. About 2 years ago, the school had a major fundraising campaign and bought the shopping center and an undeveloped plot across the street. The shopping center has remained a shopping center, but the plot has become our West Campus, a beautiful green space with a soccer field, black top area, garden plots, small amphitheater, and areas planted with native plants. This is where we now hold the Battle of Yorktown.

As teachers we do this every year and so we notice the differences each year, while the kids only got one experience with it. So, they didn't notice the challenges we faced this year. First, rain was predicted. It looked pretty threatening. But after our prep talk about how the battle would run, how to fire a musket and load a cannon, and so on, we went down to the gym to pick up blue and red pinnies to distinguish the British from the Americans and French forces, and our cannon balls (soft dodge balls). We also bring along some chairs, which serve as our cannon. I am General Cornwallis, and my partner is General Washington.

We left the building and marched along the entire length of the shopping center, crossing the street, and regrouping at the West Campus. The British were ensconced in the fort (the picnic shelter) while the Americans were behind their redoubts (is this how you spell this word?), the far side of the amphitheater. Then I discovered that we had left the bag of cannonballs sitting by the gym. Rain still threatening, I hurried back across the parking lot.

Finally, we are ready to start. The Americans are digging trenches, we British are waiting nervously. This battle is a siege, so the Americans and French bombard us with cannon fire, while moving closer and closer to the fort. When they get close enough, they add musket fire (wadded paper balls). The British return fire, but in the end we are overwhelmed and surrender. We do the surrender ceremony; General Cornwallis is too embarrassed to surrender to Washington, so he sends his second in command. Hats are thrown in the air and we march back to school, missing the rain! Huzzah!


  1. Wow sounds like a very exciting event! These are the things kids never forget!

  2. My daughter still remembers and talks about the Civil War reenactment they did in 5th grade. So glad that you were able to finish before the rain. That's something to celebrate.