Curriculum Connections:

● New York State Social Studies Framework (Grade 4)

o A. Gathering, Interpreting, and Using Evidence

■ Develop questions about New York State and its history, geography, economics and government.

■ Recognize, use, and analyze different forms of evidence used
to make meaning in social studies (including sources such as art and photographs, artifacts, oral histories, maps, and graphs).

o D. Geographic Reasoning

■ Use location terms and geographic representations, such as maps, photographs, satellite images, and models, to describe where places are in relation to each other, to describe connections between places, and to evaluate the benefits of particular places for purposeful activities.

● Social Studies Scope and Sequence

o Grade 4, Unit 3: Colonial and Revolutionary Periods


● Map of 13 colonies
● Map of colonial New York City and Brooklyn
● Green-Wood’s Battle of Brooklyn Map


● Ask students what they know about soldiers who fought in the American Revolution (if they have previous knowledge).
● After assessing prior knowledge, fill in the gaps: most of Washington’s army were volunteers with no experience. They were local young townsmen, businessmen and farmers as young as sixteen years old. Many of them experienced battle for the first time during the Revolutionary War. Weaponry, supplies, and food were also limited for soldiers—unless you were a wealthy gentleman. Many came to fight with whatever they had on hand. The officers leading the army were also fairly inexperienced. The army had no standard uniforms or equipment and because of limited resources, the Continental Congress often could not get what they needed to resupply the troops in the field. Because of all these issues the Continental Army faced supply shortages and soldiers deserting or dying, not in battle, but because of bad weather, starvation, or while being held captive by the British.


● This is largely who made up Washington’s army when he was trying to defend New York and Brooklyn. Ask students: Why was New York so important to defend? Show them a map of the thirteen colonies and ask them to think about where New York is located and what it is connected to (have them note rivers, like the Hudson, connecting it to upstate, proximity to the ocean, and that it is right in the middle of the colonies).
● Tell students: because General George Washington knew he had fewer and less experienced troops and more limited supplies than the British Army, he
wanted to be very strategic about how he used his troops to defend New York. He knew the British wanted to take New York City because of the
reasons we just came up with (so they could use its ports to efficiently reach other colonies and cut off communication between northern and southern colonies). Washington saw the key to protecting Manhattan, and thus the Hudson, was controlling Brooklyn Heights which would allow them to protect Lower Manhattan by aiming cannons from Brooklyn across the East River to Manhattan. To control Brooklyn Heights, he had to defend Gowanus Heights, which was a thickly wooded ridge running northeast/southwest along the western edge of Long Island (including current the Brooklyn sites of Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Prospect Park, and The Green-Wood Cemetery). Washington only had 3,300 new and poorly armed troops to hold off the
British fleet which had over 30,000 troops that were gathering by Staten Island. Show map of colonial New York City and Brooklyn to illustrate
Washington’s strategy.
● Let’s examine a map of the Battle of Brooklyn to figure out if Washington’s plan worked.
● Have students gather, ideally, red and blue colored pencils, markers, or crayons. One of each color. If they can’t find these colors, have them find two others but they will need to remember that one color will always correspond to the red/British on the map, and one will always correspond to the blue/Continental Army.
● Have students examine the map of the progress of the Battle of Brooklyn. Ideally, this map is printed out in color. If the map is printed in black and white, students will need to keep a color image up on screen. If they can’t print the map at all, they’ll need to trace the colored lines with their fingers and point to things on-screen.
● Review the map key with students. Make sure they understand what all the symbols mean.
● Go through each step of the activity and ask students the questions that go along with each step.


● Step 1: Find the British flags on the map and circle with your red colored pencil. How many British flags are there?
● Step 2: Find the American flags and circle with your blue colored pencil. How many are there? Why do they look different from what you might be familiar with? (This is what the flag of the 13 colonies looked like in 1776, it wasn’t until a year later that the stars were added!)
● Step 3: Find the British ships on the map and circle them in red. Where are the British entering Brooklyn?
● Step 4: Find the blue dashed lines and trace with your blue colored pencil.
● Step 5: Find Washington and the American forts on the map and circle them in blue. This is where the American camps were that Washington was trying to defend.
● Step 6: Find all the red dashed lines on the map and trace with your red colored pencil. Do you see more red or blue on the map? Why do you think the British had so many different marching paths? (The British were surrounding the American troops and trying to catch them by surprise by coming from many different directions.)
● Step 7: Find The Green-Wood Cemetery (Hint it's the green colored area on the map). Although The Green-Wood Cemetery was not established until well after the battle was fought, part of the battle was fought right where the Cemetery was later made.
● Step 8: Discuss how you think the battle played out. Based on what you see on the map, who do you think was better prepared for the battle? Why? (Find clues on the map! Hint: Do you see more red lines or blue lines?) Is there anywhere on the map where the British were not stopped or fought by Americans? Look for the northernmost path the British took across Jamaica pass. There were only five American soldiers stationed there and they were not able to defend it against the 10,000 British soldiers marching toward them. Who do you think won the battle? Why?

Wrap Up

● Confirm for students the outcome of the battle:

o When the Americans realized they were surrounded they retreated and were able to escape in the middle of the night, mostly because a fog rolled in and shielded their retreat to northern Manhattan. If the British had attacked again at night, many scholars believe the whole war would have ended right there, almost before it had begun. When the British did try to attack again in the morning, Washington’s army was gone. For the rest of the Revolutionary War, New York was under British control.

● Some other curious things about this battle: why did the British attack through Brooklyn instead of in Manhattan as Washington had predicted? One of the reasons the British landed in Brooklyn was because Brooklyn was largely farmland—use the map to show this to students—do we see any buildings, or do we mostly see trees and farmland? Because there was a lot more farmland here than in Manhattan, and because the local farmers were loyal to the British, the British chose to invade Brooklyn instead of Manhattan. They wanted the food from the farms to help feed their soldiers and wanted to capture Brooklyn in order to take control of the New York Harbor. Also, they wanted to catch the Americans by complete surprise.

● Review with the students what they learned about the Battle of Brooklyn.