• Lesson 5: Consequences of the Sedition Act

    Headline from a broadside protesting the Sedition Act.

    In 1798, Jefferson predicted the consequences of the passage of the Sedition (and Alien) Act. In this lesson, students will look at documents reflecting some of the consequences of the Sedition Act. How close was Jefferson's prediction?

  • Lesson 4: James Madison: Internal Improvements Balancing Act: Federal/State, Executive/Legislative

    James Madison.

    There was general agreement at the beginning of the 19th century that the U.S. would greatly benefit from some internal improvements of a national nature, such as a nationwide network of roads and canals. But how should the funds for such projects be raised? Who should be in control of the projects—that is, who should administer them?

  • Lesson 5: Women's Lives Before the Civil War

    Anti-slavery poster form the 1850s

    What was life like for women in the first half of the 19th century in America? What influence did women have in shaping the attitudes towards slavery? Towards women's suffrage?

  • Images of the New World

    Detail of an engraving by Theodor De Bry (printed 1590)

    How did the English picture the native peoples of America during the early phases of colonization of North America? This lesson plan will enable students to interact with written and visual accounts of this critical formative period at the end of the 16th century, when the English view of the New World was being formulated, with consequences that we are still seeing today.

  • Magna Carta: Cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution

    King John of England (right) and an English baron agreeing to Magna Carta

    Magna Carta served to lay the foundation for the evolution of parliamentary government and subsequent declarations of rights in Great Britain and the United States. In attempting to establish checks on the king's powers, this document asserted the right of "due process" of law.

  • Lesson 2: The War in the South, 1778–1781

    The battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina, 1781.

    The failure to restore royal authority in the northern colonies, along with the signing of an alliance between the American rebels and the French monarchy, led the British to try an entirely new strategy in the southern colonies. This lesson will examine military operations during the second, or southern, phase of the American Revolution.

  • Lesson 1: 1828 Campaign of Andrew Jackson: Expansion of the Voting Base

    John Quincy Adams defeated Andrew Jackson in 1824

    Did changes in state constitutions tend to affect the voting population? In this lesson, students discuss the general trend in the first half of the 19th century to extend the right to vote to more white males.

  • Lesson 4: The Second Inaugural Address (1865)—Restoring the American Union

    Photograph of Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural. Lincoln is at the very center  of the picture surrounded by dignitaries.

    The newly re-elected Abraham Lincoln sought to unite the American people by interpreting the waning conflict as a divine judgment upon both sides of the war. This lesson will examine Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address to determine how he sought to reunite a divided country through a providential interpretation of the Civil War.

  • Lesson 1: On the Eve of War: North vs. South

    Created July 17, 2010
    A Confederate artillery battery at Charleston, South Carolina

    This lesson will examine the economic, military and diplomatic strengths and weaknesses of the North and South on the eve of the Civil War. In making these comparisons students will use maps and read original documents to decide which side, if any, had an overall advantage at the start of the war.

    Lesson Plans: Grades 3-5
    Curriculum Unit

    What Happens in the White House? (3 Lessons)



    The Unit


    "At the White House, President Truman Announces Japan's Surrender." Abbie Rowe,  Washington, DC, August 14, 1945.

    "At the White House, President Truman Announces Japan's Surrender." Abbie Rowe, Washington, DC, August 14, 1945.

    Credit: Image courtesy of the National Archives.

    The “President's House,” built under George Washington's personal supervision, was the finest residence in the land and possibly the largest. In a nation of wooden houses, it was built of stone and ornamented with understated stone flourishes. It did not fit everyone's concept for the home of the leader of the young democracy. Abigail Adams found it cold; Thomas Jefferson thought it too big and impractical. He added gardens, a cooking stove, and storage.

    Whatever one's opinion of the original design, our nation is now inseparably associated with the White House. There, the essential business of the land is conducted every day. There, our history has been made and reflected.

    In this unit, students take a close look at the White House in recent times and throughout our history.

    Note: This lesson may be taught either as a stand-alone lesson or as a complement to the EDSITEment curriculum unit From the White House of Yesterday to the White House of Today.

    Guiding Questions

    • What functions does our presidential residence serve?
    • How has the White House been touched by the great events of our nation's history?

    Learning Objectives

    • List activities that take place at the White House.
    • Create a chronology of important events that have occurred at or directly affected the White House.

    Preparation Instructions

    • Review the lesson plans. Locate and bookmark suggested materials and other useful websites. Download and print out documents you will use and duplicate copies as necessary for student viewing.
    • Download the Master PDF. Print out and make an appropriate number of copies of any handouts you plan to use in class.
    • Download and make one copy each of the archival images for the activities. Many images have been selected to facilitate flexibility. Use as many or as few as appropriate. Assign them to groups as best suits your class. Keep some aside, for example, for groups that finish more quickly, or use all of them to make groups as small as possible.
    • Prepare a place in the classroom for a History of the White House Timeline, on which you will post the images. You or your students with technical expertise may wish to create an html document with links to relevant images.
    • Extensive background information on every aspect of the White House is available from the White House Historical Association, a link from the EDSITEment resource Explore DC.

    The Lessons

    The Basics

    Grade Level


    Subject Areas
    • Art and Culture > Medium > Architecture
    • History and Social Studies
    • Art and Culture > Subject Matter > Art History
    • History and Social Studies > Place > The Americas
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Culture
    • History and Social Studies > U.S. History
    • Analysis
    • Cultural analysis
    • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
    • Historical analysis
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
    • Oral Communication
    • Oral presentation skills
    • Representing ideas and information orally, graphically and in writing
    • Summarizing
    • Synthesis
    • Using primary sources