Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

Johnny Tremain is a classic. This is also a good book to read during the days preceding Independence Day.

Here are some activities to do before, during, and after your reading of Johnny Tremain.

1. Discuss what Boston must have been like in the early 1770’s. It had programs of apprenticeship, poverty, wealth, loyalists and patriots, and plenty of political controversy.

2. After reading each chapter, try and predict what will happen next. How close were your predictions?

3. Research the US Revolutionary War.

4. Also read “Sarah Bishop” by Scott O’Dell, also set during the American Revolution. Compare the characters of Sarah Bishop and Johnny Tremain.

5. More additional reading: “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; “Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson; the Declaration of Independence.

6. In the times when colleges and trade schools were non-existent, or few and far between, a common way of learning a trade was to become apprenticed to a person skilled in that trade, called the master craftsman. Find out about apprenticeship and what the terms of service typically were.

7. Because of Rab, Johnny became aware of how his actions affected others. Discuss “thinking before you speak.”

8. Johnny was forced to make many adjustments when he lost the full use of his right hand. What adjustments did he have to make? Discuss disabilities and physical challenges.

9. Johnny was ashamed of his hand. After reading the part about the dance in Lexington, discuss what Johnny learned.

10. Samuel Adams employed Johnny Tremain to ride Goblin and deliver messages around the countryside. Study the history of the postal service, beginning in 1772 with the first Committee of Correspondence.

11. After studying the Boston Tea Party, discuss wants vs. principles and/or wants vs. needs.

12. Discuss what the character James Otis means by “We give all we have, lives, property, safety, skills … we fight, we die, for a simple thing. Only that a man can stand up.”

13. Discussion question: Would you fight a war so “a man could stand up?”

14. For what would you fight and possibly lose your life? List as many reasons as possible.

15. What are the three most important things you would die for? List them in order of importance.

On-Line Lesson Plan Links:

Johnny Tremain

Links to thematic lessons on the American Revolution

Unit Study on the American Revolution

The Fighting Ground - Mini Unit


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