Social Studies Lesson Plan Links - U.S. Presidents: George Washington, Grades 4-5
Research: Have students research to learn more about George Washington and/or significant developments in U.S. history: the thirteen colonies, slavery, the French and Indian War, England’s taxation of the colonies, the Revolutionary War, the crossing of the Delaware, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the organization of the U.S. government (mint, post office) and banks, other presidents, the War of 1812, etc. Students may search photographs, primary documents, and other items through the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/topics/americanhistory.php. Have students write informational reports and share with the class.
Geography: Have students research to learn more about the history of Virginia, the home of eight U.S. presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, and Wilson. Discuss how Virginia has changed over time, and the historic houses people visit today, e.g., Mt. Vernon and Monticello. Have students study the map of the thirteen colonies on p. 9 of the featured text, and discuss how the United States has changed over time.
Debate: Have students use their opinion essays to form debate teams. Guide them in arguing their points about George Washington’s best qualities and contributions, and other developments in U.S. history, using evidence from the text as support. If using the companion text(s), have students argue points about James Madison, such as whether his role in the writing of the Constitution was more significant than Thomas Jefferson’s role in writing the Declaration of Independence, etc.
Vocabulary: Using the vocabulary lists, have students group words into categories: proper nouns, descriptive/action words, colonial/U.S. words, etc. Create word clouds and add to them. You may also include some words students used in their opinion essays, timelines, and/or informational reports.
Architecture: Show students pictures of the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and explain that the obelisk structure was built to commemorate Washington as commander-in-chief and first president. Point out that the capital city itself is also named after George Washington.
Math: Show students George Washington’s face on a dollar bill and quarter. You may also choose to show students other portrayals of founding fathers on currency, such as a picture of James Madison on a fifty thousand dollar bill.
- Compare and contrast George Washington and John Adams.
- What qualities do you think are important in a leader/U.S. president? Would you like to be president? Why or why not?
- Why do you think so many presidents came from Virginia?
- Compare and contrast the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Poetry: Read a poem about George Washington, such as “George Washington” by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet, and/or a poem about early U.S. history. Students may write their own poems.
Art: Study the various images in George Washington. Discuss the differences among the maps, illustrations, historic portraits, and famous paintings. Discuss the humor used in the illustrations. Research to find out more about the events pictured in the paintings, e.g., George Washington Crossing the Delaware and George Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge.
Language Arts: Read the legend “George Washington and the Cherry Tree.” A poem about this legend can be found here: http://www.history-for-kids.com/george-washington.html. Discuss the difference between a myth or legend and a true story. Guide the conversation about why this legend may have been created about Washington.
Music: Listen to songs about George Washington and other presidents: http://www.songsforteaching.com/uspresidents/georgewashington.htm. Listen to U.S. anthems such as “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and “America the Beautiful” and discuss the historical references.