Buttons For General Washington: Revolutionary Spy Study Guide

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Prepared by Cathy Kaemmerlen

SS4H1b, SS$H1c, ELAGSE4SL1, ELAGSE4SL4, TAES4.11

ARTIST BACKGROUND
Cathy Kaemmerlen, professional actress, dancer, and storyteller, is known for her variety of characters, one-woman shows, and for her rapport with audiences.  A performer and “creator of shows” since she can remember, she has toured in schools coast to coast, since receiving a BA in English/elementary education from UNC-Charlotte, and a MFA in dance performance/choreography/theatre at the University of Wisconsin.  She tours through Tattlingtales Productions, the Georgia and South Carolina Touring Arts Rosters, Fulton County Teaching Museums, and has received numerous grants and honors, including Outstanding New Interpreter for her region with the National Association of Interpreters. Author of three non-fiction books.

PROGRAM SUMMARY
BUTTONS FOR GENERAL WASHINGTON is the second one-woman history show actress/storyteller Cathy Kaemmerlen has written for young audiences.  Set in the Revolutionary War, covering the time frame of October, 1777 through late summer 1778, this is a spy story of one Quaker family, the Darraghs of Philadelphia, who sent secret messages in code developed by the father and oldest son Charles with the coded messages hidden in buttons sewn on a coat.  Seen through the eyes of daughter Anne, who, because of her other brother John’s illness, must deliver the buttons to brother Charles, an aide de camp for General George Washington.
The 45 minute program is designed for elementary grades who study the Revolutionary War.

OBJECTIVES

  • To gain an understanding of this important period of time, in the fight for our independence from England.
  • To gain an understanding of the Quaker religion
  • To learn about spies and spying techniques
  • To understand how difficult a decision it was for the colonists to decide–independence from Britain or allegiance to Britain

LOOK FORWARD TO

  • Learning about Quakers and what it means to be a pacifist
  • A suspenseful spy story
  • Learning about the Darraghs method of spying by using buttons and secret codes.
  • How General George Washington was the superstar of the 1770’s
  • Hearing the music that was played at Cornwallis’ surrender to Gen. Washington

The Words to THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN
If buttercups buzzed after the bee.
If boats were on land and churches on sea.
If ponies rode man and grass ate the cows;
And bats should be chased into holes by the mouse.
If summers were spring and the other way round,
Then all the world would be upside down.

VOCABULARY
Tories:  those loyal to the king of England
Loyalists:  those loyal to the king of England
Whigs:  another name for patriot and the name of our first political party
Patriots:  those loyal to George Washington and fighting for independence
Neutrals:  those refusing to take sides and remaining independent
Pacifists and conscientious objectors:  those refusing to fight for religious reasons
Midwife:  someone trained to deliver babies and usually in the home
Undertaker:  someone who prepares dead bodies for burial
Redcoat:  slang term for British soldier
Lobsterback: another slang term for British soldier
Aide de camp: an assistant to an officer, usually non-fighting
Sunshine soldier:  term given by Gen. Washington to those who fought only when times were right
Summer patriot:  term given by Gen. Washington to those who supported the cause only when it was safe to do so or the majority opinion

BEFORE AND AFTER THE PROGRAM

  • Discuss the difference between Loyalists/Tories and Patriots/Whigs.
  • Why were so many colonists undecided or neutral? What made them change their minds?
  • What would it be like to be an 8-11 year old boy or girl in the 1700’s?
  • Discuss what meeting General Washington would be like.
  • Find out more about Lydia Darragh, Anne’s mother, who was the most famous spy in the family.
  • Make your own secret codes and hide messages in code in buttons or find other hiding/transfer places.
  • Read about other spies in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, the World Wars, etc.  .
  • How have spying methods changed, as with James Bond, etc.?
  • What are some of the dangers of spying?
  • What are some non-violent ways you can support a cause?
  • Check out the Teaching Museum’s spy activity box..

BIBLIOGRAPHY
*PATIENCE WRIGHT:  America’s First Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy, by Pegi Deitz Shea
*KATIE’S TRUNK by Ann Turner.
*KATE AND THE SPIES, a sisters in time book by Joann A. Grote.
*CODE BREAKERS FROM HIEROGLYPHS TO HACKERS by Simon Adams.
*PHOEBE THE SPY by Judith Griffin and Margot Tomes (Fiction)
*KING GEORGE:  WHAT WAS HIS PROBLEM? By Steve Sheinkin.
*THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION FOR KIDS by Janis Herbert.
*GENERAL WASHINGTON, SPYMASTER by Thomas B. Allen.
*BUTTONS FOR GENERAL WASHINGTONby Connie and Peter Roop
*BROWN PAPER SCHOOL:  U.S. KIDS HISTORY:  BOOK OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONby Howard Egger-Basset and Marlene Smith-Baranzini
*COLONIAL PEOPLEby Sarah Howarth
*IF YOU WERE THERE IN 1776 by Barbara Brenner
*WOMEN WHO SPIED:  TRUE STORIES OF FEMININE ESPIONAGEby A.A. Hoehling
*A YOUNG PATRIOT:  THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AS EXPERIENCED BY ONE BOY by Jim Murphy
*THE SECRET OF SARAH REVEREby Anne Rinaldi

OTHER REFERENCE BOOKS
.COMMON SENSE by Thomas Paine
.PATRIOTS IN PETTICOATS by Patricia Edwards Clyne
.CORNERSTONES OF FREEDOM:  THE STORY OF VALLEY FORGE by Conrad Stein
.THOSE REMARKABLE WOMEN OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONby Karen Zeinert
.THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARIESby Milton Meltzer
.JOHNNY TREMAIN by Esther Forbes
.AMERICAN GIRL series
.FOUNDING MOTHERS:  WOMEN OF AMERICA IN THE REVOLUTIONARY ERAby Linda Grand De Pauw
.THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONby Bruce Bliven, Jr.
.YANKEE DOODLE DAYS:  EXPLORING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION byLincoln Diamant
.THE RIDDLE OF PENNCROFT FARM by Dorothea Jensen
.GUNS FOR GENERAL WASHINGTON by Seymour Reit
THE NAVAJO CODE TALKERS by Doris A. Paul.* particularly recommended for fourth grader readers and teachers

TECHNICAL NEEDS
Clean, clear performing space:  gym, multi purpose room, empty classroom, auditorium, etc. access to an outlet, wooden chair, peripheral aisle clear for actress to use.

Audience size limited to 200 or less, preferably seated on floor. For unloading purposes: easy access to performing space.

QCCs
Grades 3 and 4 Language Arts:  45; Grade 3 Social Studies:  44; Grade 4 Social Studies:  18, 19, 20; Character Education Grades 3 and 4:  7, 8 (8,1, 2, 3); 10; 12 (12.1, 2, 3, 4, 5): 13 (13.1, 2, 3, 4)

Post performance reflection
Why was it so dificult for the colonists to take a side or stance?