Art by Allan Davey
Girl. Fighter. Hero.

Our thrilling play is based on the true story of teen hero Sybil Ludington, a brave Revolutionary War messenger.

By Mack Lewis

Learning Objective: Students will identify and summarize important events and details in a historical fiction play.

Guided Reading Level: T
DRA Level: 50
Topics: History,

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Read the Play
video (1)
Activities (9)
Quizzes (2)
Quizzes (2)
Answer Key (2)
Answer Key (2)
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Activities (9) Download All Activities
Quizzes (2)
Quizzes (2)
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Answer Key (2)

More About the Story


summarizing, fluency, vocabulary, close reading, character, character’s motivation, inference, plot, synthesizing, informational writing

Complexity Factors

Levels of Meaning

This play has two purposes: to relate a historical event in which a teenage girl made a courageous ride to gather a militia in the American Revolution, and to highlight a young woman's accomplishment as evidence of women's equality with men.


The play is mainly chronological, with a prologue to provide background and context.


The play includes some challenging academic and domain-specific words (e.g. militia, trudges, territory) and a few plays on words.

Knowledge Demands 

The play refers (with explanations) to Patriots, Loyalists, the Continental Army, and the 13 Colonies. Familiarity with the American Revolution and the Colonial Period will be helpful.

Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

1. Preparing to Read

Watch a Video/Preview Text Features

  • Both our video “Time Machine: The American Revolution” and the captions with the feature provide important background information that will help students understand the play. 
  • Distribute the video/text features activity sheet and preview questions with students. 
  • Show the video. Invite students to share what they thought was interesting or surprising in it. Then, as a class, look at the pictures and read the captions in the play. 
  • Have students do the activity in small groups; they will need to draw on information from the video and the captions to complete it.

Introduce Vocabulary (15 minutes, activity sheet online)

  • Distribute our vocabulary activity sheet to preview the highlighted words and their definitions. 
  • Highlighted words: militia, civilians, cloak, rugged, trudge, emerges, territory 

Set a Purpose for Reading (10 minutes)

  • Call on a student to read the Up Close box on page 21. 
  • Distribute the summarizing activity, which gives students an opportunity to summarize each scene as they read.

2. Reading the Play

Close-Reading Questions (20 minutes)

  • Reread the prologue. In 1776, what did the Patriots want? What did the Loyalists want? (summarizing) The Patriots wanted to be free from King George of England and to rule themselves. The Loyalists wanted to continue to be ruled by King George. They supported the British army. 
  • Reread Scene 1. What is Sybil like? Which details support your answer? (character) Sybil is brave and confident, and thinks women are as able as men. While her family looks on “tense with fear,” Sybil opens the door for a stranger. When she learns that someone must warn her father about the British, she immediately says that she’ll go. She challenges Mr. Crosby on whether women should be able to join the militia, saying, “I am as skilled as any boy.” 
  • In Scene 2, how does Sybil fool Mr. Prosser and his aides? What does this show about her? (character) Sybil has her siblings walk in front of the windows carrying candles to make Mr. Prosser and his aides believe many soldiers are in the house. This shows that she is clever and quick-thinking. 
  • At the end of Scene 3, why does Sybil’s father agree to let Sybil gather the troops? (character’s motivation) Colonel Ludington knows that the troops must be gathered immediately and that Sybil is up to the job. When the messenger suggests that she can’t do it, the Colonel says, “You do not know my Sybil.”
  • What challenges does Sybil face in Scene 4? (inference) Sybil rides through pouring rain, becoming wet and cold. Her long ride makes her legs ache and neck stiff. She must break free from Mrs. Shaw, who thinks a girl shouldn’t ride in the dark.
  • In Scene 5, what does Sybil mean when she says to Prosser, “How low you have fallen!”? (inference) She means that Prosser has become a terrible, shameful person. He suggests that he would kill Sybil for her horse, and he pulls her off of it. 
  • Based on Scenes 6 and 7, what did Sybil achieve with her ride? (plot) Sybil successfully gathered the militia; 400 men showed up at the Ludingtons’ house. They then went to defend Danbury. Although the city was destroyed, the militia forced the British out of the area and saved citizens’ lives

Critical-Thinking Question 

  •  What does Sybil mean by her last line in the play? How does the caption on page 24 support her statement? (synthesizing) Sybil says, “I hope I have shown you that it is not only the best ‘men’ who can fight for freedom.” She means that women can fight for freedom as well, as she did when she gathered the militia. The caption explains that women helped in other ways too. They cooked for soldiers and brought them water in battle, sewed military uniforms, and took care of the wounded. Some even dressed up as men so they could join the fight. 

3. Skill Building

Featured Skill: Summarizing

  • Have students use the summarizing activity they completed as they read to help them respond to the writing prompt on page 25. 
  • As an optional extension, have students decorate their articles to look like colonial newspapers and display them on your bulletin board.
Differentiate and Customize
For Struggling Readers

Use our summarizing activity and answer key as a guide to prepare your own summary to share with students before they read each scene. Alternatively, do this with the first few scenes, then let students summarize the rest after reading. 

For Advanced Readers

Have students use the summaries they wrote, along with additional research, to create a picture book about Sybil Ludington and her ride. Each summary can be the basis for a page of text, which students can then illustrate.

For ELL Students

Show students a map of the United States and point out the states that made up the original 13 Colonies. Show them where New York and Connecticut, the states relevant to the play, are.

For Guided Reading

Work with individual groups on one or two scenes at a time, focusing on identifying the key events or details in each scene. As you work with groups, have other students answer some or all of the questions on the CloseReading and Critical-Thinking activity sheet.