April is full of wonderful things to enjoy: Spring Break is right around the corner, the weather is getting warmer, and lots of exciting historical events happened during April! Teach your students about Paul Revere’s midnight ride, the history of Earth Day, and celebrate Booker T. Washington and William Shakespeare’s birthdays with these free resources.
Booker T. Washington’s Birthday – April 5, 1856
Booker T. Washington was born on April 5, 1856, in Franklin County, Virginia. He was the first president of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now Tuskegee University, in Tuskegee, Alabama. In addition to being an educator, Washington was a philanthropist, author, and orator. Learn more about his life, accomplishments, and lasting impact on education in our blog, “Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Booker T. Washington."
Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride – April 18, 1775
Did you know that Paul Revere never said, “The British are coming!”? While the quote is a work of fiction, the true story of Paul Revere’s ride is thrilling! Revere set off from his home in Boston to warn his fellow patriots that British troops were approaching Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. Before leaving, he asked the church sexton, Robert Newman, to hang two lanterns in the bell tower of Christ Church, now known as Old North Church. The lamp was used to communicate to the Sons of Liberty whether the British were approaching by water or land — one lamp if by land and two by water. The Sons of Liberty saw two lanterns lit and spread the message that the British were traveling by sea.
Revere then rowed across the Charles River and landed in Charlestown. There, he borrowed a horse and rode to Lexington. After successfully warning the townspeople of Lexington, Revere was joined by William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, who had also traveled to Lexington to deliver the same message. The three men continued on their journey but were stopped by British troops before reaching Concord. Dawes and Prescott managed to escape, but Revere was detained. Prescott continued on to Concord and successfully delivered his warning, but Dawes is believed to have gotten lost and never reached the town. Revere returned to Lexington and witnessed the battle on Lexington Green.
Here are a few ways to teach your students about Revere’s legendary ride:
Read “Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Although Longfellow took a few creative liberties in his poem, his writing can still serve as an excellent primary source from the 19th century. Students can compare the facts of Revere’s ride to Longfellow’s version to see how historical events can be romanticized and slightly altered in literature. Ask them to spot the similarities and differences: Which facts did Longfellow get right? Which ones did he get wrong?
View Revere’s letters: Revere wrote an account of his April 18, 1775 ride in his letter to Jeremy Belknap, the Corresponding Secretary of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Your students can read the transcript while viewing the original documents side-by-side.
For more information on Paul Revere’s life, check out our Paul Revere Biography FunBook.
Earth Day – April 22, 1970 - Present
From soaring mountain peaks to rolling ocean waves, the earth is full of natural splendor, and it’s up to us to protect and preserve the place we call home. Earth Day was established in 1970 as a way for Americans to join forces to promote conservation, and today it’s observed globally. Here are some ways you can incorporate Earth Day into your classroom:
Reduce, reuse, and recycle: Set up recycling bins in your school cafeteria and encourage students to collect plastic, cardboard, paper, and aluminum cans.
Plant a windowsill garden: Having a green thumb isn’t necessary with this easy-to-follow classroom garden guide! After planting their seeds, students can make a logbook for recording and tracking their plant’s measurements. Encourage them to experiment with hours of direct and indirect sunlight and water levels to see how it affects the growth of their plants.
Learn about renewable energy: Wind is a renewable energy source that turbines use to produce electricity. In this experiment, students will observe how wind strength is affected by location, time, and altitude. Download your free copy of the experiment to get started! For more experiments and lessons on renewable energy, check out Nina Learns to Appreciate Natural Resources and Conservation.
Shakespeare’s Birthday – April 23, 1564
The wordsmith, the playwright, the legend: William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. His birthday is celebrated on what is known as “Talk Like Shakespeare Day.” During his lifetime, he penned at least 37 plays and 154 sonnets. Celebrate his literary achievements with your students using the resources below:
Play charades: Divide students into teams, and give each group one minute to act out a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays. The other teams can take turns guessing which play the scene is from.
Talk like Shakespeare: Sprinkle some Shakespearean phrases into your daily dose of fun vocab words. Ask your students what they think the terms below mean and if they recognize any of them. (Some are still a part of our vernacular to this day!) After learning a few of these phrases, students can practice saying them throughout the day. For an added challenge, encourage them to try rhyming!
Write a story: What better way to honor this storyteller on his birthday than to follow in his footsteps and tell your own? Our free “Write Your Mystery Guide” is a great way to get the creative juices flowing!