Sunday, November 6, 2011

Taxation Without Representation

The crown is a freebie from Burger King

We are studying the American Revolution in my classroom. I wanted to show my students how the colonist felt over paying taxes to a distant king, so I staged a reenactment. First, I gave all the students some M&Ms in a cup. Then I appointed a student to be king and two to be tax collectors. I told all the students wearing red to raise their hand and asked the "king" if he wanted to collect taxes, M&Ms,  from the students wearing red or not wearing red. The fun really began when the "king" made up more new taxes. He imposed a Girl Tax, Glasses Tax, Sibling Tax, and so on until their cups were almost empty. I will admit it got rather noisy with all the protests from the tax payers. The students were outraged! This set the stage for a lesson on the real taxes  imposed on the colonist.

 After the reenactment we watched a short School House Rock video, "No More King." Finally, we made a taxes foldable. At this point the students were really interested in finding out about the real taxes the colonists were expected to pay. We even learned about the Sons of Liberty, and they decided they supported them. I made the tax collectors wear gloves so I could redistribute the M&Ms at the end of the lesson. They were so relieved to find out their candy was being returned to them. I don't think this is a history lesson they will soon forget, and that truly is Classroom Magic!

 For a free copy of this lesson and template click HERE. It will take you to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. The stars are offset on purpose to TRY to keep the students from cutting too far.

Teaching Tip of the Week:
Can't get YouTube at school? Don't worry you can download the video for free and save it to your flash-drive with Zamzar. It's simple, just copy the video address from the address bar at YouTube, click URL on step 1 on Zamzar, paste the address in, Step 2 choose to convert to wmv, Step 3 insert your e-mail, and Step 4 convert. In just a few minutes they will send you the video download to your email address. You only have 24 hours to save it to a flash-drive or your computer. I use this ALL the time and have acquired a large resource of videos for teaching.

Anchor Chart of the Week
(Opps! I left the d off of thousandths. Rrr..)
This is a helpful poem to help students read decimals. If they follow the instructions in the poem they will say it and write it correctly every time!



Question of the Week:
What's your favorite history lesson to teach?


  1. Wonderful! Great idea! I can see the children really grasping the concept. I am definitely passing this on to other teachers!

  2. Thanks! I just love teaching about the American Revolution.

  3. I love that foldable! I did that same (well, pretty close) lesson with the M&M's when I taught 5th grade. They thought it was so unfair!! But what a great lesson that they will remember for a long time.

  4. Melissa,
    LOL The kids were literally screaming with protests. I gave the M&Ms back at the end because I'm a softy.

  5. I have been doing this with my kids for a couple years! We do it twice, and keep the taxes the same on the 2nd day. I give the students an opportunity to fix anything they need to before the lesson starts (Ex. remove glasses, take off jewelry) as a way to show how the colonists sometimes decided to boycott certain goods. Those taxes that they cannot avoid (sibling, braces, etc.) are the things that the colonists couldn't or chose not to boycott. They notice that there are fewer M & M's collected on the second day!

  6. Wow, what a great idea! I'm totally stealing that for next year:) Thanks for sharing!

  7. I teach place value the same way! Awesome :-) I love your rhyme though!

  8. I loved your Poem! I had to make my Anchor Chart after I saw yours! I will be back to visit your blog often. I also linked my picture to your blog, because your Poem and lesson is a great resource for others. Thanks for sharing.

    Fabulous Finch Facts

  9. Just so you know you have thousandths spelled incorrectly on your anchor chart. :-)