Learning Description

This lesson invites students to explore the life of Paul Revere through the lens of an illustration of the Midnight Ride. Using the image as a springboard, students write and enact a poem illustrating the event. This exercise is a wonderful tool to increase presentation skills, empathy and ensemble in your classroom.


Learning Targets


Download PDF of this Lesson

"I Can" Statements

“I Can…”

  • I can explain the events and Acts that led to the American Revolution using descriptive phrases in first person.
  • I can use theatrical skills to take on the perspective of Paul Revere.

Essential Questions

  • How can theatrical skills help us understand historical events?
  • What role did Paul Revere and the Midnight Ride play in the American Revolution?


Georgia Standards

Curriculum Standards

Grade 4:

SS4H1 Explain the causes, events, and results of the American Revolution. 

  1. Trace the events that shaped the revolutionary movement in America: French and Indian War, 1765 Stamp Act, the slogan “no taxation without representation,” the activities of the Sons of Liberty, the activities of the Daughters of Liberty, Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party. 
  2. Describe the influence of key individuals and groups during the American Revolution: King George III, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Benedict Arnold, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Paul Revere, and Black regiments. 
  3. Describe the major events of the American Revolution and explain the factors leading to American victory and British defeat; include the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Saratoga, and Yorktown.

Arts Standards

Grade 4:

TA4.CR.1 Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.

TA4.PR.1 Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.


South Carolina Standards

Curriculum Standards

Grade 4:

Standard 2: Demonstrate an understanding of the identity of a new nation, including the state of South Carolina between 1730-1800.

  1. Explain the causes of the American Revolution as they impacted Georgia; include the French and Indian War, Proclamation of 1763, and the Stamp Act.


Arts Standards

Anchor Standard 1: I can create scenes and write scripts using story elements and structure.

Anchor Standard 3: I can act in improvised scenes and written scripts.

Anchor Standard 8: I can relate theatre to other content areas, arts disciplines, and careers.


Key Vocabulary

Content Vocabulary

  • The American Revolution - The war fought by the American colonies to end British rule; it was between the 13 colonies and Great Britain


  • Battles of Lexington and Concord - The beginning of the American Revolution 


  • “Regulars”, or "lobsters" - What the colonists called the British soldiers
  • Patriot - Colonist who was opposed to British rule


  • Minutemen - Volunteer Colonial soldiers who served against the British in the American Revolution; they were said to be ready at a minute's notice 


  • The Stamp Act of 1765 - Colonists were taxed on playing cards, newspapers, books, pamphlets and legal documents like wills 


  • The Sugar Act of 1764 - Colonists were taxed on sugar, wine, coffee, dyes and cloth 


  • The Boston Massacre - A protest in 1770 against British rule in which five American Patriots were killed 


  • The Boston Tea Party - Men disguised as Mohawks threw tea into the harbor to protest the tax on tea in 1773

  • The French & Indian War - The English fought against France for the land in North America; England won but needed to pay off the debts of the war

Arts Vocabulary

  • Ensemble - All the parts of a thing taken together, so that each part is considered only in relation to the whole
  • Theater - Dramatic literature or its performance; drama


  • Improvisation - A creation that is spoken or written without prior preparation

  • Scene - A division of a play or act that presents continuous action in one place or setting



  • Illustrations/artwork of Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride 
  • Illustrations/artwork depicting the Acts and events that led to the American Revolution and major battles of the American Revolution
  • Paper and pencil


Instructional Design

Opening/Activating Strategy

*Classroom Tips: This activity works best in an open space with room for students to move.


  • Project an illustration or artwork portraying the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (example from the Smithsonian Magazine).
  • Ask students to work collaboratively to engage in the See, Think, Wonder Artful Thinking Routine. 
    • First, students will identify what they see in the image. Emphasize that they should make objective observations about the image. 
    • Next, ask students to identify what they think about the image. Emphasize that students should be creating inferences using visual evidence from the image. 
    • Finally, ask students what they wonder about the image. 
  • Facilitate a class-wide discussion around students’ observations, inferences, and questions.
  • Provide context for the image stating that it is depicting the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.



Work Session

  • Discuss Paul Revere, the Midnight Ride, and his place in American history and the road to Revolution. 
  • Review the Stamp Act, Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Sugar Act and French and Indian War. Show illustrations and paintings related to these events and topics.
  • Pass out Paul Revere photo pages.  
    • Each page will have an illustration/artwork depicting the Midnight Ride as well as a photo of one of the above mentioned events or acts (Stamp Act, Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Sugar Act, French and Indian War).  
    • Explain to students that the first/top picture is of Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride. The second/bottom is of one of the events or acts that were just reviewed.  
      • Each of these events or Acts were important in the leading up to the Midnight Ride and revolution.  
      • Ask students to write down the following: 
        • The name of the event or act under the second/bottom picture 
        • How this event or act made the American colonists feel towards the British
      • Ask the students to study the first/top image and think about: 
        • Where is this place? 
        • What season is it? 
        • What time of day is it? 
        • What sounds and smells would you hear if you were in this picture? (even things you can’t see)
      • Ask students to imagine themselves as Paul Revere riding in the Midnight Ride.  
      • Instruct the students to place the picture in front of them and take the position that Paul Revere is in on the horse. 
      • Then, ask students to close their eyes and take a deep breath of the clean air in this place. Listen to the sounds in the environment. Take another deep breath and smell the aroma. 
      • Now, instruct students to open their eyes.  
      • One at a time, each student should make a sound that they hear in their environment.  
  • Pass out paper and pencils. On the left hand side, ask students to list:  Where – where are you?  When – what time of day and season is it?  Who – who else is in the picture?  What – what are you doing?  How – how do you feel about the event or act pictured at the bottom?  
  • Next, instruct students to write down three descriptive phrases about their image. 
    • Tell students that instead of writing, “the wind”, they should describe the wind. An example would be ”the blowing wind” or “the fierce cry of an eagle”. 
    • Encourage/require students to use adjectives, descriptive and figurative language
  • Students should now write six to eight short lines describing this environment and how this place makes them feel. 
    • Students should include the date of the ride, the three descriptive phrases, a fact about the event or act in the bottom picture and a title for their poem. Students may also include details such as what thoughts are going through their mind. The lines should be written in first person, e.g., “I am standing”, “It makes me feel”.
  • Ask a student to volunteer to come to the front of class and share their work.
    • Have the student choose someone to bring to the front of the class to read their work to. 
  • Tell students that they are now going to bring the picture to life.  
    • Have the student cast their classmates as the three elements from their paragraph. They should announce the element and then choose the person (e.g., the blowing wind). Once a person is chosen, have them come to the front of the class and then show them the picture. Then cast the next element and student, etc. The author will direct the elements, indicating where they will be in the live picture and what sounds they will be making. 
    • On calling action, have the author walk up or “ride” as Paul Revere into their environment and take their place in the live tableau then read their work. As they read the lines, the students who have been cast should make their sounds. 
    • Finally, the student should show the photo around the room or the teacher should project it on the board.


Closing Reflection

  • On the back of their papers, students should reflect on the process and how using theatre techniques helped them gain a deeper understanding of the historical event.
  • Allow students time to share with the whole class.




Teachers will assess students’ learning by observing students’ responses to class discussion and observing students’ engagement with the photographs through their writing.




  • Students can explain the event or act depicted in their image using descriptive phrases in first person.
  • Students can use acting techniques to take on the perspective of Paul Revere.




  • Students can write a monologue from the perspective of Paul Revere as he is on the Midnight Ride.
  • Students can write a scene that includes dialogue between Paul Revere and someone he encountered on his ride. 



  • Allow students to work with a partner throughout the process.
  • Provide a graphic organizer or sentence starters to help students structure their writing.

*This integrated lesson provides differentiated ideas and activities for educators that are aligned to a sampling of standards. Standards referenced at the time of publishing may differ based on each state’s adoption of new standards.

 Ideas contributed by: Susie Spear Purcell

Revised and copyright: June 2024 @ ArtsNOW