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Path of a President: Abraham Lincoln's Rise to the Top

Janelle Cox

The Path of a President: Abraham Lincoln's Rise to the TopAs sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln guided the nation through the civil war, and the abolition of slavery. Explore the life and contributions of "Honest Abe" and celebrate his birthday with activities that teach his biography, his reign as President, and his untimely assassination.

Exploring Abe Lincoln's Timeline

Introduce your students to Abraham Lincoln by reading the book "Who Was Abraham Lincoln" by Janet B. Pascal. Discuss how Lincoln grew up in Kentucky, was poor, and lived in a log cabin. Talk about why he moved to Indiana and his families' hatred for slavery. Discuss his love of learning, his marriage to Mary Todd, and his reign as President. Highlight important events like the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. Once students have a grasp on Lincoln's backstory, have them cut out and assemble the worksheet "Building a Timeline of President Abraham Lincoln's Life." A fun idea is to have students assemble the sentence strips in order on President Lincoln's top hat. Then you can showcase their work around the classroom.

Building a Log Cabin

A fun cooperative learning activity to do with students is to have them assemble a replica of Lincoln's log cabin that he grew up in. Show students illustrations of Lincoln's actual cabin, via the website Divide students into groups of four, and assign each member a specific role. Suggested roles may be supplier, designer, decorator or gluer. Make supplies available such as toilet paper roles (they could paint brown and use as logs), glue, paint, scissors, construction paper, cardboard, and cotton balls. Once students have their log cabins assembled, allow them to share their creations with the class.

If I Were President

As the sixteenth President of the United States, President Lincoln had many responsibilities. He signed new laws, managed the union forces in the civil war, and inspired the nation in the Gettysburg Address. To get students thinking about all of the responsibilities that a president has, read the story "Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln" by Jean Fritz. Then discuss Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address and how his words impacted the nation. Ask students to think about how they would run the country if they were President. Then assign students to write a speech addressing the nation just how President Lincoln did when he was President. Encourage students to speak from their heart, and talk about how they can change the nation for the better. Once students have written their speeches, allow students to take turns sharing with the class.

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Remembering Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln was the first President of the United States to be assassinated. He was fatally wounded by John Wilkes Booth. Encourage students to understand that Lincoln's death was a travesty. Showcase how we honor this American hero by commemorated his achievements through memorials such as the penny, five dollar bill, and Mount Rushmore. Discuss with students that, in their short lives, they too have had important experiences. Ask students to brainstorm the important events in their lives. Ideas may include a sibling being born, an adopted pet, a death in the family, or a family wedding. Have students record these important events by writing their biography and drawing a picture to correlate with it.

Reading About Abe

To create further interest in our sixteenth president read these informative books.

  • The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, written by Candace Fleming. (Reference book for ages 8 and up)
  • Abe Lincoln: The boy who loved books, written by Kay Winters. (Introduction to Lincoln's life through his presidency, for ages 6-10)
  • Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, written by Doreen Rappaport. (An overview of Lincoln's life, for ages 8 and up)
  • Another Great Achiever: Abraham Lincoln Will You Ever Give Up? Written by Loyd Uglow. (An account of his humbled beginnings to his reign as the President, ages 8 and up)
  • Lincoln's Legacy: Blast to the Past), written by Stacia Deutsch. (Third graders travel back in time to keep history on track, for ages 7 and up)

This February, as we celebrate President's Day and honor Abraham Lincoln's birthday, remember to remind students of Lincoln's amazing accomplishments. Enlighten students of Lincoln's childhood, showcase his many contributions as president, and read a few fun stories that will help give them a picture of what his life was like back then.

Do you have a great idea or activity that will help other teachers explore the achievements of Abraham Lincoln? Share it with us!

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