top of page

The American Experiment

Lesson Objective:

In third and fourth grade, students learn about Presidents Day and the establishment of the United State's Democracy.

This project's goal is to illustrate how George Washington and the Continental Army's crossing of the Delaware River was a pivotal point in the war, leading to a victory that helped to turn the war in the American's favor. This ultimately resulted in America's victory in the war, the establishment of Democracy, and the first president.


  • A 12x18-inch piece of paper

  • A 9x12 inch piece of paper

  • A popsicle stick or straw

  • Markers and crayons

  • Tape

  • Pencil

  • Ruler

  • Scissors

  • Eraser


  • Decorating materials (such as stickers and glitter)


  1. Before starting the project, have student's view Emanuel Leutze's famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware River below.

  2. Next, students should hold the 9x12 inch piece of paper horizontally and draw their own depiction of Washington, his soldiers, and their boat, using Leutze's painting as a reference. The drawing should fill a large portion of the page. (see video example)

  3. Then, students can cut out their drawing.

  4. After, students should tape their popsicle stick or straw onto the back of their drawing. (see photo example)

  5. Next, holding their 12x18 piece of paper horizontally and student should line the ruler up to the left side edge of the paper. Students should make a light mark at the ruler's four inch mark and the eight inch mark.

  6. Then, students should draw a horizontal line from each mark made in step 5 to the opposite side of the paper. (see video example)

  7. Student should color in the rectangle section made in step 6, with a blue marker or crayon. This space will be the water of the Delaware River.

  8. Next, students should fold their paper in half and very gently, press down on the crease to create a very light, vertical crease line on their paper.

  9. Students should place their ruler in the middle of the blue rectangle with the 6 inch mark of the ruler lined up to the light crease made.

  10. Then, using a pencil, student's should draw a straight light along the length of their ruler

  11. After, students should fold their paper like a hot dog, with the penciled line being where the fold is creased. Make sure that when the paper if folded, the blue rectangle is facing outward.

  12. In the center of the folded paper, students should make a very small cut on the crease with their scissors. Then, students should unfold their paper.

  13. Student's should use the hole made in step 12 as an entrance point for their scissors, so they can cut along the penciled line.

  14. After, students can slide their popsicle stick through the cut out line. Using the popsicle stick, students can drag Washington and his boat across the Delaware River that they made. (see video example)

  15. Finally, in the four inch space below the river, students can draw two symbols that represent Great Britain and two symbols that represent America. (see brainstorming list)

George Washington Crossing the Delaware River:

Sample Discussion:

Students can drag their Continental Army boat across the Delaware, while parents explain to students why the American's wanted freedom from Great Britain, and how this lead to the creation of democracy and presidency.

Example discussion:

Parent: The American's wanted freedom from Great Britain because they were being unfairly taxed. Before the American Revolution, Great Britain fought the French and Indian War and they loss a lot of money in this war. So, they taxed the American's to gain some of their money back. This made the American's mad, because they were being forced to pay for a war they they did not fight. This was like getting in trouble for something that your sibling did. The American's decided that they no longer wanted to listen to Great Britain, and that they wanted their own government, but this made Great Britain mad. So, they fought the Revolutionary War. After the American's won the war, they decided that they did not want a king as a leader in their new form of government, because they believed that this gave one person too much power. So, instead they decided to have a president, someone the people could elect every four year. The first president they elected was George Washington because he was an amazing leader during the Revolutionary War.

Furthering the Lesson:

Click here to learn more about the presidents of the United States

Brainstorming Example:

Sample Photos:

Sample Videos:


bottom of page