War of 1812 Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Use this Study.com lesson plan to teach students about the causes and effects of the War of 1812. Learn key vocabulary and apply important reading skills. Examine primary source documents and follow up with an engaging writing activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define key vocabulary in context
  • explain the causes and effects of the War of 1812
  • imagine and respond to historical events in writing


  • 1 hour


  • Timeline cards of major events in the War of 1812
  • Copies of the Star Spangle Banner
  • Copies of primary source document related to the burning of Washington D.C.

Key Vocabulary/Events/People

  • War of 1812
  • James Madison
  • Orders of Council
  • vessel
  • frigate
  • Leopard
  • Chesapeake
  • neutral rights
  • Francis Scott Key
  • embargo

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.3

Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4

Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


  • Begin by passing out timeline cards (one for each student or student pairing) and asking students to attempt to put the events in order, creating a human timeline. Take a photo or record their guess.
  • Tell students they will be learning about an important event in American history: the War of 1812. Share prior knowledge and pre-teach vocabulary, if necessary.
  • Discuss the terms 'cause and effect.' Explain their meaning and relationship.
  • Show the Study.com video lesson War of 1812: Causes & Effects.
  • Pause at 2:19 and discuss:
    • Why is the War of 1812 often referred to as the 'Second War for Independence?'
    • Why did the wars between France and England mean more trade for Americans?
    • Was the Orders of Council legal and enforceable?
    • What were James Madison's ideas about trade?
  • Have students create a two-column chart in their notebooks labeled 'Cause' and 'Effect.' Instruct them to take notes during the remainder of the video lesson. Play the rest of the lesson for the class.
  • Check notes and discuss:
    • How did Americans feel about neutral rights? Explain.
    • How did America's struggles with Native Americans impact the War of 1812?
    • Explain the term 'war hawks.'
    • What strategy did the British use to fight the Americans?
    • Why did America consider itself victorious even though the peace treaty didn't address their original grievances?


  • Distribute primary source document relating to the British burning of Washington D.C., found by doing an internet search.
  • Divide students into small groups or allow to work in partner pairings or individually according to your students' needs.
  • Ask students to read the documents and respond to the information in writing. Lead a discussion about the event, paying close attention to details provided by eye-witnesses, encouraging students to gain a close perspective of the event.
  • Pass out copies of the Star Spangled Banner. If possible, sing or play the song and discuss the origin.
  • Have students write their own patriotic song, imagining they were witness to the burning of Washington. Allow them to create an original tune or 'borrow' one from another song as the Star Spangled Banner did.
  • If time permits, share work. Otherwise, or give another class time to complete and share.
  • For homework, assign the task of putting events of the War of 1812 in order.


  • Research the naval and land battles fought in the War of 1812. Compare and contrast strategy and success.
  • Retell the events of the War of 1812 from different points of view, such as Native Americans or British.
  • Use or Study.com lessons (below) to learn more about James Madison and the Battle of New Orleans.

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