PBS Collection Spotlight: Hamilton's America
Hamilton's America (Grades 4-12)
Fine Arts; Social Studies
Based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit Broadway musical, “Hamilton’s America” blends history, footage of Miranda’s writing process, and scenes from the musical itself to create a vibrant and engaging film about the making of the musical and the preservation of Alexander Hamilton’s legacy. This Great Performances collection hosts clips for viewing, activities for the classroom, teaching tips connected to the film, and additional material generously been provided by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
Included are 16 videos, primary sources (like the Federalist Papers in addition to Hamilton's own letters), essays, and other background readings. Activity-wise there are discussion questions, graphic organizers, vocabulary lists, as well as larger project ideas. Although the collection purports to be useful for elementary school, many of the concepts discussed would be most appropriate for upper middle school and high school students.
Additionally, a decent amount of background knowledge is required to complete the depth of knowledge activities presented. Elementary school teachers may be able to adapt some of the materials, but this would require cutting/pasting and rebuilding to make many of the activities and handouts content grade-level appropriate. Finally, students would absolutely benefit from having already viewed the famous musical Hamilton before diving into this collection.