Lesson Plan: Boston Massacre

Boston Massacre Gravestone

Kelly Thomas, program manager for the City of Boston’s Historic Burying Grounds Initiative, explained the events that took place during the Boston Massacre and how the event is remembered.


This lesson uses a video clip explaining a grave marker of individuals who died in the Boston Massacre to have students learn about the background, relevant vocabulary and different interpretations of the event. Students will use this information to analyze how the colonists and British visually represented this event through propaganda.


  • WARM-UP:

    Before beginning class, have the students think about the following question:

    • How can people interpret the same event differently? What is an example in your own life?

    After discussing the warm-up question, have the students complete the vocabulary activity. If using their personal devices, they should make a copy of the Google Slide and match each term to the appropriate definition. If they are using this as a printed handout, they can draw arrows to the correct match.

    HANDOUT: Boston Massacre Vocabulary Activity (Google Slide)

    Students will match definitions for the following vocabulary terms:

    • Revolution

    • Massacre

    • Engraving

    • Customs

    • Duties

    • Propaganda

    • Debt

    • Smuggling
    • Sons of Liberty

    After reviewing the vocabulary terms and addressing any misconceptions, have the students view the following video clip about the Boston Massacre. Students should either complete the Boston Massacre Graphic Organizer with information from the video or answer the questions associated with the video clip.

    HANDOUT: Boston Massacre Graphic Organizer (Google Slide)

  • VIDEO CLIP: Boston Massacre (3:44)

    • Why were the British soldiers in Boston?

    • Why is the Boston Massacre an important event?

    • Why can the engraving of the Boston Massacre be considered propaganda?

    • What is a massacre? Do you believe that the Boston Massacre was really a massacre? Explain your answer.

    Using what they learned in the video clip, students will analyze and compare two pictures that represent the points of views of the British and colonists. They will use the handout below to assess the pictures and complete a chart.

    HANDOUT: Boston Massacre: Points of View (Google Doc)


    As a culminating exercise, have the students complete an exit slip that answers the following question:

    • How do you think the Boston Massacre contributed to people’s opinion of the British soldiers?

    Creating a Grave Marker- Using the handout, create a grave marker similar to the one that was shown in the clip. Include information about the individuals buried there and their significance.

    Boston Massacre: RAFT Writing- Using the RAFT handout, write a letter from the perspective of someone at the time. In your letter, include your role, audience, form and topic.

Additional Resources


  • Boston Massacre
  • British Empire
  • Colonists
  • Crispus Attucks
  • Custom Agents
  • Customs
  • Debt
  • Duties
  • Engraving
  • Headstone
  • Massacre
  • Paul Revere
  • Propaganda
  • Revolution
  • Smuggling
  • Sons Of Liberty


U.S. History


Middle SchoolHigh School