How to teach the American Revolution using skittles

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, it’s not Christmas it is American Revolution time! This unit is by far is my favorite unit to teach as a civics teacher. Teaching the American Revolution is the only time I get to teach an entire unit of U.S. history. 

My favorite activity to complete is the king’s skittles. 

If you have not heard of the kings’ skittles activity, you are in the right place. I was initially inspired by young teacher love, who created this simulation for her elementary class. I knew I wanted to incorporate this activity in my middle school classroom. So, I decided to create my simulation perfect for middle and high school social studies students. 

I use this after teaching about the events leading to the Declaration of Independence (SS.7.C.1.3). Once the students understand the acts and the colonist reaction to those acts such as the stamp act, I introduce the activity. 

This simulation activity that will give your students an experience of the colonist frustration with King George and the Parliament. Conducting kings’ skittles in the classroom is easy.

Keep reading for the three easy steps to incorporate this activity into your classroom.

  1. Choose the right students.
    1. Choosing students will be your most crucial step. You have to choose four students to complete this activity. A king, two tax collectors, and a parliament member. Make sure your students are willing to play the role. I give the assignments at the beginning of class and call the students up. 
  1. Give each “colonist” a cup of skittles
    1. I give each student a plastic cup and an individual bag of skittles. I assign a student to hand out the cups, this is the best time to set up some ground rules. 
      1. Do not eat the skittles
      2. Do not throw the skittles 
      3. If the tax applies, you must give up the tax no matter what
  2. Monitor
    1. I give my teacher chair to the “king” and instruct him/ her to pass out the tax cards to the parliament, who then reads the card to the class. 
    2. Students will naturally not give skittles. If a student refuses, confiscate their skittles and send them to jail ( a corner in your classroom)
    3. Once the skittles are collected, let the class know, the king decides how the skittles will be distributed.
    4. You can either discuss or give an exit ticket to the students to wrap up the activity.

I love this activity, and I hope you will have fun incorporating this into your middle and high school classroom. 

You can get this free resource below and begin using it in your classroom! In the resource, you will receive 

  • Signs for the king, tax collector, and parliament
  • Instructions for the king, tax collector, and parliament
  • Tax cards ( related to actual taxes)
  • Exit slip
  • Discussion questions
  • Jail sign (for those who refuse)
  • Crown

This resource is based on the following standard/topic:

  • SS.7.C.1.3: Describe how English policies and responses to colonial concerns led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Stamp act
  • Tea act
  • Sugar act
  • Quartering act
  • Townshend act
  • Boston tea party

Assembly:

Cut out the parliament, king, and tax collector sign. Hole punch the sign and place a string through.

The crown comes in two parts. Cut out around and along the lines to have four pieces of the crown. You can throw out the 4th piece. Staple the three pieces together,

Click the image below to download your free resource today! Let me know how it worked in your classroom by commenting below.

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