Boston Massacre Paul Revere engraving

Boston Massacre and the early steps to Revolution

Everyone can tell you about the “shot heard round the world,” but do you know what led to that shot?  What were the steps that drove us inexorably from a colony to an independent nation?

Boston Massacre lesson

It certainly wasn’t a straight shot, and makes for a fascinating bit of homeschool history lesson as we look at the Boston Massacre and the early steps to revolution.


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But where does the Boston Massacre start?

First you need to back up a little bit.  England had passed a series of taxes and laws the colonists hated.  They were spoiling for a fight, and went to great lengths to start one.  It all came to a boil when a regiment of soldiers tried to calm a mob, and the soldiers in a panic fired into the mob.

Boston Massacre engraving

Look at this masterful stroke of propaganda by Paul Revere.  Even what we call this event today is a stroke of genius designed to get people mad.  I go into a lot more detail in my Paul Revere unit study on some great discussion questions.

But this is the masterpiece that starts all of this.  I wanted the kids to get a better idea of how hard it is to engrave, so we made our own engravings to print with.


Boston Massacre activity: make an engraving

Of course you can’t learn about a master engraving like that without trying your hand at it.  To give it a try yourself you’ll need a few supplies:

clean styrofoam tray (I asked our local HEB store, and they gave me a few empty trays), bamboo skewer*, poster paint*, a foam paint brush* (yes I do buy this in 25 packs, because these are great for spreading mod podge or similar types of things) or a brayer* (I’ll admit I just use the foam brush, but figure some of you might have a brayer)


Boston massacre engraving lesson

The kids set to work carefully etching their creations into the foam.  We discovered it was harder than it looks, to help you out, here are a few tips:

  • Don’t press too hard, because you end up poking holes, rather than making smooth lines.
  • What you print will be reversed, so if you are writing anything, make sure your letters are in mirror writing (one of the girls was saddened to see her writing mirrored)
  • Simple works better than complex (at least with the implements we’re using)

Once your design is done paint a thin, emphasis on THIN layer of paint over it.  Press your design onto the paper, and you’ve created a paper engraving.

Boston Massacre engraving craft ours is not as good

My kids’ designs were mostly poking holes to make patterns, but I still think it turned out rather interesting.


What else happened in Boston besides the Boston Massacre?

what else happened in Boston besides the Boston Massacre

We followed up the talk of the Boston Massacre with some general talk about what happened in Boston before the American Revolution.  To help them see just how much was going on I printed off this map from Time Travelers: American Revolution*.  But the full details of those events need to be a whole different post.

To give you a hint of that future I give you:


More information on the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere, and the steps to the American Revolution


7 responses to “Boston Massacre and the early steps to Revolution”

  1. Phyllis Avatar

    I like how you combined the study of MASS. and US history. The engravings are cool. My guys learned that engraving and printing is harder than it looks through our engraving activities, too.

  2. MaryAnne Avatar

    Love the engraving activity, and you found some fun videos! I'm looking forward to learning more about my home state through your state study =)

  3. Love the links! I'll have to keep them in mind when we are ready to dive deeper into US history. Great idea to do a foam engraving too.

  4. Christy Avatar

    I like the project you did. Great links too!

  5. An Almost Unschooling Mom Avatar
    An Almost Unschooling Mom

    We were just reading about Massachusetts being where the first dinosaur tracks were found.

  6. Debbie Avatar

    I hope you never take down your posts, as I just love everything you do with the kids. I know I will want to refer back when we begin to look more at history.

  7. […] Consider reading this article about the Paul Revere Boston Massacre engraving.  Or try making your own engraving. […]

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