Did anyone else always find Patrick Henry to be the coolest guy ever? I always admired him when I was in school and thought he was one of the most interesting founding fathers. I loved the drama of his famous “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech and wrote a paper on it in high school. And then when I went to Williamsburg a few years ago I found more to admire about him.
Did you know he didn’t agree with how our government ended up, and because of that he felt it wasn’t right that he should be involved in any federal office despite being asked to several times? That’s right this incredibly ambitious man refused to take federal office because of his principles. A few politicians could use his morals.
Okay, getting back on topic and back to homeschool history lesson.
Patrick Henry lesson plan
We read A Picture Book of Patrick Henry* (I love David Adler books, as I mentioned in my History Books for kids post), I learned more things about him, for instance he has no head for business. He ran two stores and one farm into the ground, but he’s a great lawyer.
I was trying to think of a good thing to do for what we learned about him, and came up with a simple booklet that we cut the top half in thirds, so it was a flap book. On each different flap we wrote something he tried his hand at and if he did well or not.
The kids remembered how he did surprisingly well for it being a fairly complicated book for their age. Sometimes I’m amazed at how much they remember about the books I’m reading them.
Extend this Patrick Henry lesson for older kids
This activity is obviously for very early writers and learners, but let’s take this same book and extend it for upper elementary and middle school.
- How did this failed business man become a Founding Father? How can you apply this to your life?
- Patrick Henry refused to join the new government because he disagreed with the power of the federal government. Write a letter attempting to convince him to join.
For high schoolers, analyze Patrick Henry’s speech. It’s a powerful oration, and a great example of debate skill. Look for what arguments he presents. What emotional words does he use?