Role Play and Taxes

Learning about the history of taxation may not sound very exciting, but in Jacqueline’s 7th grade social studies classes, students got to experience first-hand how the various tax acts employed by the British fanned the flames of discontent in the colonies. 
After being assigned various roles as colonists (almanac writer, farmer, grocery owner, etc.) and tax collectors (for the Stamp, Quartering, Sugar, etc. Acts) various scenarios were read aloud that determined where funds each player began with would go. 

Scenarios included things like: 
  • You go to the market to buy sugar. You notice that the cost is higher than last time. You must pay the Sugar Act Tax.
  • You pay toward the construction of barracks for British soldiers. You must pay the Quartering Act Tax.
  • You need a new wool coat. You go ashore to purchase one. It is much more expensive than the last one you bought. You must pay the Wool Act tax.

Over time each player, including the tax collectors, watched their funds slowly dwindle and ultimately end up in the hands of the King.  


“Rather than simply read about these Tax Acts and how they fueled the Revolution, this activity helps students put themselves in the shoes of the colonists and really imagine what the impact of living under British rule might have been like in their lives, “ Jacqueline explains. “When you’ve actually watched these taxes drain your imaginary bank account you bring a different understanding to questions like, in this governmental configuration, who is left with the most money? What social group was least affected by taxation? How would these rules imposed on the colonists affect their relationship with Britain?”

This role play experience set students up well for coming lessons on the Revolutionary War. 
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Located in College Park, MD, Friends Community School is a progressive Quaker K-8 day school, founded on the belief that every child is a valued member of our community. We offer a challenging curriculum imbued with strong values of equality, integrity, community, environmental stewardship, simplicity and peaceful conflict resolution, rooted in our Quaker heritage.
Friends Community School
5901 Westchester Park Drive
College Park, Maryland 20740
301-441-2100