Students are active learners when they are engaged in real activities. The Abraham Lincoln & Me Primary Source Activity Book enables students to become familiar with primary sources and learn about Abraham Lincoln and his accomplishments while fostering a personal connection to this U.S. president. The activity book is available in English and Spanish with accompanying audio files in each language. Numerous extension activity ideas provide teachers with options for extending learning.
To complete this project, students will . . .
- view primary sources relating to Abraham Lincoln.
- learn basic facts about Abraham Lincoln.
- compare aspects of Abraham Lincoln with themselves.
- complete hands-on activities to foster a personal connection to Abraham Lincoln and synthesize their learning about this president and themselves.
Upon completing this project, students will be able to . . .
- recognize an image of Abraham Lincoln.
- identify Abraham Lincoln as a president of the United States.
- state two facts they learned about Abraham Lincoln.
- state two facts about Abraham Lincoln’s presidential accomplishments.
- foster a personal connection to Abraham Lincoln through recognition of similarities between this president and themselves.
Prepare materials for implementation: Download activity book pages in English or Spanish; you may also choose to use the digital audio files in English and/or Spanish. You could have students complete the pages digitally using PDFescape or another PDF annotation tool.
Be flexible with implementation: Pick and choose appropriate activities for various grade levels and abilities.
Implementation suggestions: Children can complete various activities individually, with partners, or in groups. Be sure to review the extension activity ideas for each page of the activity book to build on knowledge and integrate activities with other subject areas.
Activity Book pages
U.S. Map: blank
U.S. Map: with state names
U.S. Map: with states numbered
- Have students analyze a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, then complete a portrait analysis worksheet. After, discuss if the portrait influenced student views of Abraham Lincoln.
- After students have completed several pages, have them compare and contrast the different Lincoln portraits. Ask: How does each portray Lincoln? How are the portraits similar? How are they different?
- Have students bring in or create various “portraits” of themselves. Then have peers analyze what the different portraits reveal about the subjects.
- Have students create their own presidential portraits.
- Challenge students to find the names of our country’s other presidents.
- Draw body outlines of students, add details, and pin to the wall in order of smallest to tallest (label heights in feet/inches and meters/centimeters).
- Have students work together to graph or chart student heights and hang the finished graph/chart in the classroom.
- Play the Presidents’ Song (from TPS at Waynesburg University on YouTube).
- Have students learn more about the US Standards of Measurement v. Decimal System (NASA video on YouTube)
- Challenge students to answer the following questions (you may also have students write equations for some of them): How many months are in a year? How many months have 30 days? How many months have 31 days? Which month does not have 30 or 31 days? How many days are in a year? [EX: (30 x 4) + (31 x 7) + 28 = 365] How many days are in a leap year? [EX: (30 x 4) + (31 x 7) + 29 = 366]
- Have students list the birthdays of family members. Ask: Are there any months with no birthdays?
- Have students chart the birthdays of the students in the class to determine the month or months with the most birthdays.
- Abraham Lincoln was born in February, which is in winter. He was born in 1809 so in 2009 we celebrated the bicentennial of his birth or his 200th birthday. Ask: In what season were you born? What year were you born? Write an equation to determine how old you were in 2009 [EX: 2009 – 2003 = 6]
- Abraham Lincoln was 54 years old when he became President. Have students write an equation to determine in which year each will celebrate his/her 54th birthday [EX: 2003 + 54 = 2057]
- The oldest person elected U.S. President was Ronald Reagan; he was 69 when he took office in 1981. Have students write an equation to determine in which year each will be 69 years old. [EX: 2003 + 69 = 2072]
- The youngest person elected U.S. President was John F. Kennedy; he was 43 when he took office in 1961. Have students write an equation to determine in what year you will be 43 years old. [EX: 2003 + 43 = 2046]
- Have students find the birthdays of all of the U.S. presidents and mark their birthdays on a calendar. On each birthday, have students sing Happy Birthday to that president. Then ask them to brainstorm two different equations they can write to determine how much older than the birthday president is than they are. [EX: 2003 – 1809 = 194 OR 200 – 6 = 194]
- Have students learn more about the U.S. presidents (the White House website).
- Tell students that the day of the week on which their birthday falls changes every year. Have students figure out on which days of the week they will celebrate their birthdays for each of the next ten years. Remind students that they will skip a day in a leap year if they were born in the months of March to December and will skip a day in the year after a leap year if they were born in January or February.
- Tell students: Leap years occur every four years. The year 2012 was a leap year. Ask: Were you born in a leap year? Was Abraham Lincoln born in a leap year? Were any of your family members born in a leap year? How old will you be in the next leap year?
- Have students read about the Lincoln family (The Lincoln Institute).
- Ask students if they know or can guess who the bust behind and above Thomas is on this page? Then ask them who they think the portrait behind and to the left of Robert might be?
- Have four students use a few simple props (table, chairs, books, etc.) to create a tableau that matches the painting of the Lincoln family. Then have the rest of the class use prepositions of place/position (e.g., above, across from, against, behind, below, beside, in, in front of, near, on, over) to describe where people and objects are in relation to one another. [EX: Thomas’ arm is resting on his father’s leg. Robert is standing in front of a portrait on the wall.]. Next, rearrange the tableau by giving students directions using different prepositions of place/position; be sure to give all students a chance to be part of a tableau.
- Have students work together to create a family tree for the Lincoln family. Then have them create ones for their families.
- Have students learn more about Thomas “Tad” Lincoln and other kids who lived in the White House (White House Historical Association).
- Have students read this open letter from Jenna and Barbara Bush to Sasha and Malia Obama about living in the White House (Wall Street Journal). Ask students to list the advice given and rate the worthiness of each. Then discuss student findings and ask them to consider additional advice that might be useful to a first child.
- Show students an enlarged image of Aesop’s Fables illustration Then read some of Aesop’s Fables (University of Massachusetts Amherst). After, review the illustration again as a class and challenge students to match some of the symbols with the fables. Ask students to discuss why Aesop’s Fables was one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite books.
- Have students fill out the favorite book form and draw representative illustrations around it. Then have them cut out the completed illustrated form and paste it on a piece of paper. Hang student book recommendations on the class walls with a notecard underneath each one. Encourage children to read each other’s selections. Every time a child reads one of the books, have him/her place a sticker on the corresponding notecard; alternatively, you may have students rate the books using a number system or thumb up/down.
- Have students write in the names of the states on the numbered U.S. map.
- Have students write in the names of the states and the state capitals on the blank U.S. map.
- Have students write in the names of the states and the years they became states on the blank U.S. map.
- Have students plot the places students were born or places they have lived on a map; write or pin names to the appropriate states.
- Have students find out the year each state was admitted to the Union. Then tell them to write the years of admission and the current state “ages” on the blank U.S. map.
- Ask students to look at enlarged versions of one or more of the maps on this page and talk about the different kinds of information these maps reveal.
- Ask students to compare the maps on this page to present-day maps and note the similarities and differences they find.Have students read about Abraham Lincoln’s childhood.
* Lincoln’s earliest recollections (National Park Service)
* The Indiana Frontier (National Park Service)
* Learning By Littles (National Park Service)
* Lincoln and Kentucky (The Lincoln Institute)
* Lincoln and Indiana (The Lincoln Institute)
- Have students construct a 2-D log cabin with log pretzels.
- Have students construct a 3-D log cabin with log pretzels and marshmallows.
- Have students construct a 3-D log cabin with popsicle sticks or twigs and glue.
- Have students estimate the number of log pretzels needed to create a log cabin.
- Have students research different types of houses found in the United States. Ask: What different types of materials can be used to build homes? How do geography and climate affect the forms of houses and the materials used to build them?
- Have students imagine a new kind of house people will live in 100 years in the future. Ask: What does it look like? What is it made of?
- Have students read about Lincoln’s career.
- Discuss the different qualifications needed to become an elected official (federal government and state government). Next, have students conduct research to find out when Abraham Lincoln first became an Illinois State Representative, a U.S. Congressman, and President of the United States (for the latter, you can look on p. 10) and how old he was when he first took each job? Then, have students calculate in what years they will be eligible to run for each of the offices Lincoln held.
- Have students research an occupation and find out what education, training, and special skills are needed to perform the job; alternatively, have students imagine a job of the future, listing the education, training, and special skills they think would be needed to perform the job.
- Have students make a collage filled with pictures that illustrate the type of job(s) they’d like to have one day. Replace their faces with the faces of adults in the pictures. Display the collages around the class.
- Give students the opportunity to act out their ideal jobs, with or without words. Have the rest of the class try to guess the desired occupation.
- Have students identify other modes of transportation used today.
- Have students create a transportation collage, labeling the different modes.
- Have students research different modes of transportation to determine what source of fuel each uses. Ask: Which use renewable vs. nonrenewable energy sources?
- Compare and contrast modern modes of transportation with those of the past (not long after Lincoln’s time) using the Library of Congress American Memory collection – Around the World in the 1890s: Photographs from the World’s Transportation Commission, 1894-1896. Browse the subject index, using gallery view, to more easily identify appropriate images.
- Have students imagine (write and draw) what modes of transportation we will have in the future.
- Have students read along as you read aloud a newspaper account of Abraham Lincoln’s Springfield Farewell Address (National Park Service). As a class, consider the questions found at the end of the text.
- Have students determine how far in each of the four cardinal directions railroads extended across the United States around the time Abraham Lincoln was president using this 1861 railway map.
- Have students calculate the number of miles and/or kilometers from Springfield to Washington, D.C.
- Have students calculate the time it would take to get from Springfield to Washington, D.C. using different modes of transportation (they will need to assume a set number of miles/kilometers per hour; for example, assuming a horse travels 10 miles per hour).
- Show students this 1874 railway map and have them focus on the train routes represented by the thicker, dark lines and determine how many different possible routes there are from Springfield to Washington, D.C. Use string to follow the routes and measure them. Ask: Which route is the shortest? Which is the longest? Can you calculate the distances using this map? Why not? [There is no scale.] What else is this map missing? [There is no legend.]
There are several cities listed in the railroad lines in the bottom right corner of the map. Have students find the cities on the map and list the states in which the cities are located. Then have them locate these same cities on a present-day map. Next have them calculate the distances from each city to Washington, D.C.
- Have students research present-day railroad lines. Ask: How do today’s railway lines differ from those on the historical map? How long does it take to get from Springfield to Washington, D.C. by train today? In what cities/states does the train stop in on the way?
- Challenge students to find Abraham Lincoln in the photograph.
- Ask: In what year did Abraham Lincoln become President? On what date do we inaugurate a U.S. President today? On what date was Lincoln inaugurated [March 4, 1861]. Using the date of Lincoln’s inauguration and the information on p. 11, figure out the date the Civil War began (April 12, 1861).
- Have students use this map from the American Presidency Project to answer the following questions about the 1860 U.S. presidential race: Who were the candidates running against Abraham Lincoln for the office of U.S. President in 1860? Did Lincoln win both the electoral vote and the popular vote? Who had the second highest electoral vote total? Who had the second highest popular vote total? Some students may enjoy learning about the presidential election process (Common Craft).
- Have students review documents and images from Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration and Lincoln’s second inauguration and report on their findings.
- Have students use this 1864 map to identify the states of the Confederacy in 1861 and towards the end of the war.
- Show students various images related to the Emancipation Proclamation. Ask students what they see and feel when viewing the images and how their observations affect their understanding of this document and this moment in history.
- Review the lyrics and/or music of the song Emancipation. Ask students what the song makes them think and feel and how this song affects their understanding of this document and this moment in history.
- Have a basic discussion of the U.S. Constitution and the amendments (Ben’s Guide to Government) with students. Create a class Constitution and amend it, as necessary, during the year.
- Learn more about the 13th amendment.
- Look at historical photos of the Battle of Gettysburg.
- Review historic sheet music written about Gettysburg and discuss what the lyrics tell about and the how the music makes students feel..
- Read more about the Gettysburg Address. Then read the speech aloud with students, discussing unfamiliar vocabulary terms.
* Today in History: Gettysburg Address
* Gettysburg Address: Ben’s Guide to Government
- Complete the Gettysburg Address Image Sequencing Activity.
- Tell students about the history of military honors, then have students research the design and significance of military medals.
- Remind students that a score equals 20 years. Have students help brainstorm other words for numbers (bi, decade, double, duo, tri, triple, trio, quarter, quartet, decade, century, millennium, etc.) and then use the words to write fun story equations. [EX: If you had a violin duo and a trumpet trio, how many musicians would be playing music? Five!]
- Have students put on a presentation for parents or other students using their stovepipe hat friends to tell what they have learned about Abraham Lincoln.
- Share with students this silly video about U.S. presidents and their inaugural hats (YouTube).
- Have students list five reasons why people wear hats.
- Have students list five uses for a hat besides wearing it on their heads.
- Have students wear a favorite hat to school.
- Have students bring in an old hat and tell a story about it.
- Have students research the fashion history of hats.
- Have students research different types of materials used to make hats to answer the following question: How does the purpose of a hat affect the type of material used to make it?
- Have students take Scholastic’s Seven Hat Challenge about the different roles of the U.S. president.
- Have students use ink pads to make different-colored “prints” of the penny.
- Have students make their own pennies out of clay dough. Allow students to decide on what symbol they want to put on the back.
- Have students draw silhouettes of themselves on a round sheet of paper and write a brief autobiographical sketch on the back.
- As a class, collect 100 pennies. On the 100th day of school, group the pennies by 2s, 5s, and 10s.
- Collect pennies for a month or more and record the number collected. Graph the amounts collected on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. At the end of the collection period, consider donating the money to a local charity or use the money to purchase an Abraham Lincoln book for the classroom library.
- Have students review the designs of the 2009 commemorative pennies. Ask students to explain which they like best.
- Have students learn more about coins at the U.S. Mint’s kid section. Have them make a short presentation describing what they learned.
- Challenge students to find Abraham Lincoln in the photo at the top of the page. Then, if possible, show them an enlarged image of Lincoln at Gettysburg and see if they can determine where this detail fits in the complete image.
- Challenge students to identify and provide details about the thumbnail images. If possible, show them enlarged images (URLs can be found on p. 19).
- Have students complete a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast Abraham Lincoln with themselves.
Selected Civil War images
Common Core State Standards Alignment
The activities in this book, along with the extension activities, align to the Common Core State Standards for grades K-3 listed below.
English Language Arts Reading Standards for Informational Text
- RI.K.1, RI.K.2, RI.K.3, RI.K.4, RI.K.7, RI.K.8
- RI.1.1, RI.1.2, RI.1.3, RI.1.4, RI.1.6, RI.1.7, RI.1.9, RI.1.10
- RI.2.1, RI.2.2, RI.2.3, RI.2.4, RI.2.6, RI.2.7, RI.2.9, RI.2.10
- RI.3.1, RI.3.2, RI.3.3, RI.3.4, RI.3.5, RI.3.6, RI.3.7, R3.1.9, RI.3.10
English Language Arts Writing Standards
- W.K.1, W.K.2, W.K.3, W.K.7, W.K.8
- W.1.1, W.1.7, W.1.8
- W.2.1, W.2.7, W.2.8
- W.3.7, W.3.8, W.3.10
English Language Arts Speaking & Listening Standards (Extension Activities)
SL.K-3.1, SL.K-3.2, SL.K-3.4, SL.K-3.6
- K.CC.1, K.CC.2, K.CC.3, K.CC.4, K.CC.5, K.OA.2, K.OA.5, K.MD.1, K.MD.2, K.MD.3, K.MD.A.1
- 1.OA.1, 1.MD.4
- 2.OA.1, 2.MD.2, 2.MD.10