John Paul Jones & Naval Battles Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about John Paul Jones with this lesson plan. They will view a video about the naval legend, take an accompanying quiz, and participate in a role-play activity to reinforce key learning.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Describe the highlights of the career of John Paul Jones
  • Explain how foreign navies helped the American cause in the Revolutionary War
  • Recap the roles of sailors and privateers during the war


1 - 1.5 Hours


Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.


  • Let your students know they will be studying John Paul Jones. He is also known as the Father of the U.S. Navy.
  • Ask them if anyone is familiar with John Paul Jones, or has even studied him previously.
  • Read the introduction, start the video John Paul Jones and the Naval Battles of the Revolutionary War, and pause for the first time at 2:03.
    • What happened at the Battle of Machias?
    • How did the U.S. Navy get its start?
    • What was the Turtle?
    • What is the difference between a sailor and a privateer?
  • Now, restart the video and pause for a second time at 4:21.
    • What were some of the tactics the early navy used to combat the British?
    • What were conditions like for sailors and prisoners?
  • Next, restart the video and pause this time at 6:16.
    • How did John Paul Jones become a sailor?
    • What incident in the Caribbean changed his life?
    • What were some of his notable naval victories?
    • What famous saying did he shout when the British asked him to surrender?
  • Next, restart the video and pause for the final time at 8:15.
    • How did foreign navies aid the American Revolution?
    • What occurred during the Battle of the Chesapeake?
    • What monumental event happened in Yorktown, Virginia?
    • What became of John Paul Jones and the navy after the war?
  • Lastly, restart the video for the final time and view the 'Lesson Summary' section.
  • Review the entire video lesson, answer any relevant questions about John Paul Jones, have your students take the lesson quiz, and review the quiz answers.


  • Explain to your students they will be taking part in fun role-playing activity about the naval legend John Paul Jones, and six naval battles of the Revolutionary War.
  • In addition to the information in the article, students may use the internet to gather additional details about their assigned battle.
  • Divide your students into six groups. Assign one of the following battles to each group:
  1. The Battle of Cape Henry
  2. The Battle of the Chesapeake
  3. The Battle of Block Island
  4. The Battle of Front Royal
  5. The Battle of the Delaware Capes
  6. The Battle of Flamborough Head

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