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Estimated Time Needed

5 days, 45 minutes per day

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Sleds on Boston Common
During the
  • During Teaching
      1. Students read the entire main selection text independently.

      2. The teacher reads the main selection text aloud while students follow along. (Depending on how complex the text is and the amount of support needed by students, the teacher may choose to reverse the order of steps 1 and 2.)

      3. Students and teacher re-read the text while stopping to respond to and discuss the questions, continually returning to the text. A variety of methods can be used to structure the reading and discussion (i.e.: whole class discussion, think-pair-share, independent written response, group work, etc.)

  • Text Dependent Questions
    • Text-dependent Questions


      How does the author let you know the story takes place in the historical past? 

      It is 1774, the British have closed Boston Harbor, new governor Thomas Gage

      Patriots are people who love their homeland and defend it.  Who are the patriots in this story?

      Sam Adams, John Hancock, William Price

      How does the closing of Boston Harbor lead to hard times for the people of Boston? 

      Food and other necessities could not come into Boston, fewer jobs for people who worked in the harbor

      Henry says there are more and more British soldiers marching on Boston Common. What do you think “common” means in this selection? 

      Common is a word with multiple meanings. In this context, it means a public open area in a town or city

      What evidence does the author provide to show how the people of Boston feel about the British soldiers’ presence in their town?

      The soldiers have cut down fences and trees for firewood, taken over the harbor, and monitored people’s payment of their taxes. All of these things have angered the people of Boston. The author also writes, “Most of us didn’t like General Gage’s troops in our town. Most of them didn’t like us either.”

      Why does Henry think, “It was the best kind of New England day”? 

      It’s his 9th birthday, there’s lots of snow, he got a sled for his birthday, perfect day for sledding

      What in the text helps you to infer that Henry’s family is having a hard time due to the closing of the harbor? 

      Old mittens, patched leather boots 

      Why are Henry and his siblings steaming mad? Why does the author put “our” and “their” in italics toward the end of the page? How do these italicized words shed further light on the kids’ feelings?

      Henry and his siblings are mad because the Common is supposed to belong to everyone in the town. Now, “it was covered by the barracks of General Gage’s troops. And they were everywhere, these troops, officers and soldiers, drummers and cooks.” And they had set up tents and other obstructions all over the Common. 

      The author puts “our” and “their” in italics to further separate the two groups.  It goes from being “our” Common to “their” Common. The italics emphasize the children’s negative feelings about how overrun “their” (and the town’s) Common have become.

      Henry’s father tells his children to “look sharp but don’t look like you’re looking” when they go to the Common. What does Henry’s father mean by this statement? How do Henry and his siblings follow through on this advice? 

      They are angry at the British troops for taking over their Common. They want to notice everything so that they can help the patriots, of which their father is one, but they don’t want to get in trouble by looking like they are spying. 

      The siblings follow through on his advice by being very attentive: “We walked among the barracks, and listened with our eyes and with our ears.”

      How does Henry stand up for what he believes?

      He stands up for his right to use the Common by deciding to speak up to General Gage. He tells General Gage that “the Boston Common belonged to all of us,” and how “his troops knocked down our snow forts, ruined our ponds for skating, and built fires in the middle of sled runs.” He also shares that it is his birthday and that he wants to use his new sled.

      How does General Gage respond to what Henry has to share?  Thinking about how Henry first perceived General Gage, how is his response different than what Henry might have expected?  Cite evidence from the text to support your answer.

      General Gage responds by thinking silently for a moment: “General Gage crossed his arms and looked out across the snowy Common. No one spoke a word.”

      He puts his hand on Henry’s shoulder and tells him he has a “fine sled.” Then he asks who made it. General Gage shares that he has sons and daughters as well and that he knows “my own children would like to sled this hill if they were here.”  Finally, he orders the troops to let the children use the hill.

      This response is different from what Henry expects, given his  impressions of Gage and the soldiers at the beginning of the story. The impression he has is that the soldiers will only follow the orders of King George, and since General Gage is British, and under King George’s rule, he would not be open to what a Bostonian Patriot, especially a kid, would have to say.

      What evidence does the author provide to show how much Henry enjoys sledding on that first day?

      Students should be able to cite the paragraph that reads, “I’ll never forget the first time I came down that hill on a sled I could call my own....” Henry feels joy sledding with the wind in his face, going over bumps faster and faster.

      How does Henry feel about General Gage at the end of the story? State examples from the text. 

      Henry compares him to his father, which means he must like him. He says: “General Gage looked like a man who would listen, a good man, a man like my father.” Also, Henry states that he is “a man of his word,” meaning that he kept his promise to let them sled and skate. That is another reason why I believe Henry respects General Gage. Also, Henry and General Gage shake hands, which is another example of how someone shows respect for another. 

  • Academic Vocabulary


      Words addressed with a question or task


      General teaching suggestions are provided in the Introduction


      Not enough contextual clues provided in the text




      spectacles, governor

      wharf, dock, masts, swagger

      navigation, plank, steeple

      expect, stark, ruts

      barrack, keg

      tyrant, glare, sternly

      courage, spunk, rebel, swiftly




      Sufficient contextual clues are provided in the text










      tuck, tramp







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