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Great Presidents

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white_house_430x207.jpgThe history of the United States is built on the achievements of our great presidents. George Washington helped push forward the birth of our nation, Abraham Lincoln emancipated the slaves and Franklin D. Roosevelt steered us through the perils of World War II. Share these great achievements with your students through lesson plans, primary sources and interactives.

Special Presidential Collection

  • Learn about the responsibilities of being president, and why George Washington was so important during a critical time for our Nation in the lesson: George Washington The Precedent President (Grades 6-8)
  • Ever wonder What Happens in the White House? Take a trek through history and learn about the White House of yesterday and today. (Grades 3-5)
  • Picturing America interactive, Picture Lincoln, explores a moment in history as seen through the portrait of Lincoln. (Grades 6-8)

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Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life Homepage
History Explorer | Resource | 5-12

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln and covers each major period of Lincoln's private and public life, especially his years in Washington.

Abraham Lincoln’s Patent Model
History Explorer | Resource | 5-12

Abraham Lincoln's interest in canal building, river commerce, and internal improvements not only drew him to the Whig and later Republican Party, but also led him to try his hand at designing a devise for raising boats off sand bars. This patent model was submitted to the U.S. Patent Office along with his drawings for the device.

Cuban Missile Crisis
History Explorer | Lesson Plan | 9-12

Examine primary sources to determine the level of threat caused by the buildup of Soviet nuclear missiles and weapons sites in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis and will analyze President Kennedy’s response.

Declaration of Independence Desk
History Explorer | Resource | K-12

In 1776 Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence on this portable desk of his own design.

Engaging Students in a Collaborative Exploration of the Gettysburg Address
ReadWriteThink | Lesson Plan | 9-12
In small groups, students closely examine one sentence from the Gettysburg Address and create a multigenre project communicating what they have discovered about the meaning and significance of the text.

FDR, New Deal and World War II
EDSITEment | Curriculum Unit | 9-12
The 1930s & 40’s were an era of profound change in America that especially affected the relationship between the American people and the federal government. It was in these tumultuous times that Franklin D. Roosevelt steered the country through economic perils and major social changes as well as a world war.

General George Washington: Military Leader
History Explorer | Lesson Plan | 4-12

Use artifacts and a historical letter to discuss George Washington’s leadership during the War of Independence and the qualities of great leaders.

George Washington The Precedent President
EDSITEment | Lesson Plan | 6-8
George Washington became President—reluctantly—at a critical time in the history of the United States. In this activity, students review the responsibilities and powers of the President as intended by the Founders and as practiced during Washington's precedent-setting terms in office.

Interactive Gettysburg Address
History Explorer | Interactive | 4-12

Use this interactive document to bring one of the five known handwritten copies of the Gettysburg Address to life! Students can zoom in on the document, click on highlighted passages that help put the famous speech into context and listen to actor Liam Neeson read the entire address. Transcripts of the manuscript are also available in English and Spanish.

Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address We Must Not Be Enemies
EDSITEment | Lesson Plan | 3-5
Help your students understand the historical context and significance of Lincoln's inaugural address through archival documents such as campaign posters, sheet music, vintage photographs and documents.

NBC Fireside Chat Microphone
History Explorer | Resource | K-12

On March 12, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered the first of about thirty informal "Fireside Chat" addresses over the radio. His ability to communicate over this new medium directly and personally, addressing each listener as a respected friend, gave FDR a powerful tool to shape public opinion.

Myth and Truth: The Gettysburg Address
ReadWriteThink | Lesson Plan | 3-5
By exploring myths and truths surrounding Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, students think critically about commonly believed stories regarding this famous speech from the Civil War era.

Picture Lincoln
EDSITEment | Lesson Plan | 6-8
In this lesson students study Alexander Gardner's photograph of Lincoln taken a little over two months before his death. They look for clues to Lincoln's personality and mood, read a short biography, write a poem describing what they learned about Lincoln, and create an artwork showing his character.

President Barack Obama was born today in 1961.
ReadWriteThink | Lesson Plan | 9-12
Students are introduced to a passage by President Barack Obama in his book Dreams from My Father and are encouraged to engage in an examination of the ways they are portrayed by the media.

The President Has Many Roles
History Explorer | Interactive | 9-12

On June 29, 1950, President Truman performed all seven presidential jobs. In this activity, students will learn about the Presidency by looking at an excerpt of the President's schedule from that day and match the events with the correct role of the president.

Uniform Coat Worn by General Andrew Jackson
HIstory Explorer | Resource | 5-12

Andrew Jackson wore this uniform coat at the Battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815.

What Happens in the White House
EDSITEment | Curriculum Unit | 3-5
The “President's House,” built under George Washington's personal supervision, was the finest residence in the land and possibly the largest. In this unit, students take a close look at the White House in recent times and throughout our history.

Woodrow Wilson and Foreign Policy
EDSITEment | Curriculum Unit | 9-12
Woodrow Wilson numbers among the most influential Presidents in the history of U.S. foreign policy. Students will study the formation, application, and outcomes-successes and failures alike-of Wilson's foreign policy. Students will subsequently appreciate the profound legacy of Wilsonianism in U.S. foreign relations as they continue their study of modern U.S. history.

Learn more about presidents.


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