Timely Matter

Lesson Plan


Grade Level

Elementary School

Author Info

Lisa Schisler and Michelle Stilson

Type of Lesson


Type of Project (Individual/Group/Both)



60-90 minutes

Challenge Question

Was the news spread throughout the Thirteen Colonies in a timely matter, and what implications might that have to the American Revolution?


Students will examine the primary documents of the May 26, 1768 edition of The Virginia Gazette and a 1763 map of North America to infer time verses distance in sharing and spreading news. They show their knowledge of timelines and chronological order by selecting colonial maps used during The American Revolution. Using Google Maps students will locate Yorktown and Mount Vernon, find their distance and select the best colonial map to represent these locations. Rounding the distance to the nearest tens, students will estimate the days needed to travel between the two locations using information given about average horse/rider daily distances. Students will be asked to write about how this means of travel could have affected news traveling to all thirteen colonies about the Victory at Yorktown.


  1. Go to “My Collections” and open the Virginia Gazette. In the Virginia Gazette there are communications between Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Williamsburg, Virginia (home of the Virginia Gazette). Compare the dates of the original communications and their actual date of publication in the paper. What do you notice about the difference between the dates of the original drafts to the date of publication? Turn and talk to your project partner.
  2. Open the map of North America. Find Williamsburg, Virginia. The distance between Williamsburg and Boston is approximately 600 miles. How much time passed between the original Boston draft and its publication in the Virginia Gazette? What could you infer about time and distance in communicating news between New York, Philadelphia and Williamsburg during colonial times? Why is this important to know? How might this affect communications during the American Revolution? Turn and talk to your project partner about these ideas.
  3. Go to Create. Open my collection and click on a map. Read the item details, review the date and location of the map.
  4. Open the Timeline Tool. Drag and drop those maps into the Timeline that could have been used during The American Revolution.
  5. Place the maps into chronological order from earliest date to latest date.
  6. Open a new tab and go to Google Maps. Click on “Get Directions”.
  7. In box A type Yorktown, VA.
  8. In box B type George Washington’s Mount Vernon Garden and Estates, VA
  9. Click on the blue box that says, “Get Directions”. In which state did you find both locations? Minimize Google Maps.
  10. Click on “Take Challenge” tab. Find the map from “My Collections” that would best show the locations of Yorktown and Mount Vernon.
  11. Open “Add Image” and drag chosen map to box.
  12. Open “Add Text”. Open Google Maps tab and find the distance listed between Yorktown and Mount Vernon. In a complete sentence, tell distance, labeling appropriately.
  13. Round the distance to the nearest tens. Write this information in a complete sentence in the text box.
  14. Close Google Maps.
  15. If a horse and rider can travel about 30 miles in one day, how many days would it have taken George Washington to travel from Mount Vernon to Yorktown.
  16. Enter your answer in a complete sentence in the text box.
  17. Based on what you have learned so far, write a paragraph about all 13 colonies getting the news of the Victory at Yorktown? Did all colonies receive the information at the same time? Did one or more colonists have the job of spreading the news? Given what you know about time and distance in colonial times what might you want to investigate more about news of the victory?