Grade: Middle

#3888. Shays' Rebellion Song

Social Studies, level: Senior
Posted Tue Feb 6 10:43:24 PST 2007 by Marcia Albrecht (
Walton Central School, Walton, NY USA
Materials Required: Song lyrics, notes on Convention
Activity Time: 30 minutes
Concepts Taught: Shays Rebellion/intro to Constitutional Convention

TSWBAT recall North American contributors & contributions to U.S. system of government
TSWBAT identify the Articles of Confederation List strengths/weaknesses
TSWBAT explain causes and effects of Shays' Rebellion


1. Review European & Colonial contributions to the US

2. Review order of events-why did the colonists declare their independence from Britain? What kind of government would they want? Brainstorm.

3. Notes: After the revolution the colonists formed The Articles of Confederation. Confederation is loosely formed groups who get the benefits of a larger organization such as ----but still retain their sovereignty (Political authority) or power.
Details: Each state had one vote, any act of congress required the approval of 9 out of 13 states, congress had powers like making war or peace coining money, regulating Indian affairs and settling disputes between states. However, they had no power to enforce their laws and no way to get money because they couldn't levy taxes. States had all the power.

Tell students Main Accomplishments of the Articles was the Northwest Land Ordinance 1785.

4. Problem: (ask students) no strong central govt! Weakness. . .

5. lead into Shay's Rebellion, sing song listed below. Offer kids extra credit to sing. They usually all sing along as long as I sing the tune first. After singing take brief notes on rebellion.

6. Ask: Now that ppl. Saw the Articles were not working what kinds of government might they
want? What kind of powers would they want the government to have? Lead into Constitutional Convention and Preamble.

Closing Activity: Have students make their own song/rhyme that explains the goals of the Constitution.

Song, written by Marcia Albrecht feel free to use!
Shays' Story

(To the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies)

Come and Listen to a story 'bout a man named Shays
Poor ol' farmer whose debts weren't gettin' paid

So one day he rallied up his friends
and that my dear is where it all begins

Well, Shays and his friends they stole a lot of guns
They closed down the bank
They shouted "Re-bell-yun"
The wise men knew this Shay wasn't a fool, they knew to others he'd seem really cool (Smart that is, John Locke, don't ya' see?)

Well the next thing you know the rich folks got all scared
Madison said "Let's get out of here!"
He said "Philadelphia is the place we oughta be"
So they saddled up the horse and they rode off to Philly
(PA that is, making rules, changing laws)

And that my friends was really just the start
Those 55 men were really very smart

They made a constitution for you and me
And it has lasted for two-20 (years that is)