Your Reason for Treason

Lesson Plan


Grade Level

Middle School

Author Info

Win Anderson & Stephanie Knauss

Type of Lesson


Type of Project (Individual/Group/Both)



60-90 minutes

Challenge Question

The actions of the revolutionaries could be considered treason against their British king. Which one of these grievances listed by the revolutionaries in the Declaration of Independence would drive you to commit treason? You will be creating a proposed t-shirt design for your grievance, along with a proposal explaining your concept to a t-shirt manufacturer.


Students will have previously studied key events from the Road to Revolution, specifically colonial protest. They will have already studied the list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence. This application activity will challenge students to deepen their understanding of one particular grievance and make a personal connection with the colonists. One goal of this activity is for students to see the prior expressions or manifestations of the grievances in the Declaration. Students can create their designs through the program of their choice.


  1. Go to “My Collection” to re-read the list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence.
  2. Choose one grievance that would motivate you to commit treason and support the revolution.
  3. Write or type a sentence summarizing the reason this grievance motivates you to rebel.
  4. Identify key words or events associated with this grievance to help you search primary documents.
  5. Go to “Explore” and enter your key words or events. Look through the documents, paintings, and items that pertain to your grievance and find the one that best expresses your complaint. Make sure the date your item was created or used was prior to July 4, 1776.
  6. Create a design for a t-shirt that would show everyone your opinion about the grievance. Your design must include the document you chose and a clever slogan. In addition, submit a proposal paragraph explaining how this grievance would motivate you to rebel and why the manufacturer should make and sell these shirts. Be sure to explain the relevance and importance of the document you chose within your paragraph. Perhaps you will use the summarizing sentence you wrote as Step #3 to help you write your thesis statement.