Which fact listed in the article surprised you the most? Why?
Which fact listed in the article impressed you the most? Which impressed you the least? Why?
According to the article, Abraham Lincoln attended séances at the White House. Lincoln died more than 100 years ago. What do you think would happen if people learned that a president elected within the past 20 years or so had done this?
According to the article, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first president to name a woman to his cabinet. This happened 85 years ago. In what ways, if any, do you think the United States would be different if women had been included in the highest levels of government sooner? How would the country be different if more women were included now?
- Challenge students to compile a chronological list of all U.S. presidents. Fill in any presidents that students may have missed. Then encourage students to share well-known facts they know about each president.
- In small groups, with a partner or on their own, have students select one president. Instruct them to conduct research to learn more about the president's life. Challenge them to compile a list of 10 fascinating or lesser known facts about that president that may surprise people.
- Once students have completed their lists, have them write a brief essay. Instruct them to identify the fact that surprised them the most and explain why they think people would be surprised by each of the facts they uncovered.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
Can you imagine the United States without presidents? Or reciting an Oath to the King instead of the Pledge of Allegiance? That’s exactly what schoolmates Eric, Dominique, Ajay and Josephine encounter when they go to school one day. You can find out how the fearsome foursome thwart this wicked plot to change history in this book, which is the third graphic novel of the Secret Smithsonian Adventures series.
Activities Use the activities, games and puzzles in this teacher resource guide from the National Portrait Gallery to enhance students’ knowledge of American presidents and the role of the presidency in American history.
Did you know that Thomas Jefferson offered his own huge book collection as a replacement when British troops burned the Library of Congress? Or that John F. Kennedy was the youngest ever elected president—and the youngest to die in office? Click on each portrait in this activity from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access to learn more about the U.S. presidents.
This lesson plan guides students to discuss George Washington’s leadership during the War of Independence and the qualities of great leaders. The lesson includes background information, full-color primary sources and a transcript of a letter about George Washington that was written by his officers.
In this lesson from the National Museum of American History, students analyze a letter written by 11-year-old Grace Bedell to President Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Students then write their own letters to the president of the United States.
In this lesson from the National Portrait Gallery, students analyze portraits to learn of the events surrounding the death of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler’s succession to the presidency. They apply their historical knowledge and analysis by writing newspaper articles that reflect their understanding of these events.
Despite what furniture stores and car dealerships tell you, officially, we’re really just celebrating George Washington’s birthday. Read this Smithsonian article to learn how the first president’s birthday became a federal holiday that honors a mash-up of other events.