Lesson Plans: Grades 3-5

Lesson 3: A President's Home and the President's House

Tools

The Lesson

Introduction

The White House

The White House

Credit: Courtesy of American Memory

Today the class will look closely at what one President did at his home in contrast to what Presidents have done in the White House.

Guiding Questions

How does the White House differ from a presidential home such as Monticello?

Learning Objectives

After completing this lessons in the unit, students will be able to

  • Give specific examples demonstrating how the present-day White House reflects the duties, powers, and privileges of the office of President.
  • Compare and contrast Thomas Jefferson's Monticello with the White House.

Preparation Instructions

  • Review the lesson. 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.

Lesson Activities

Activity 1. Home vs. House

Begin by showing the class a picture of Monticello, President Thomas Jefferson's home, located near Charlottesville, Va., about 120 miles from Washington, D.C. You can use the image of the Front of Monticello from the Center, available on the EDSITEment-reviewed website American Memory. Take a moment to look at the building. Which of the three proposed White House designs seen in Lesson One of this unit does it resemble most? Is that the design some people think Jefferson created? Is Monticello more like a home or a palace?

Guiding Question:

How does the White House differ from a presidential home such as Monticello?

Learning Objectives

After completing this lessons in the unit, students will be able to:

  • Give specific examples demonstrating how the present-day White House reflects the duties, powers, and privileges of the office of President.
  • Compare and contrast Thomas Jefferson's Monticello with the White House.
Student Activity:

What is the difference between Monticello and the White House in practice? Divide the class into six groups. Assign one of the following virtual tours to each group (see note in Preparation Instructions, in the curriculum unit overview

):

Graphic organizers are provided for each of the six tours on pages 1-6 of the Master PDF. Download, copy, and distribute the appropriate graphic organizer to each student. Provide each group with an extra copy as well from which they can create a group master copy. Within each group, students should divide the duties so that one or two students are covering one or two hours in the day for A Day in the Life of Jefferson, or one to three rooms for the other Monticello and White House tours. (NOTE: The student timetables for A Day in the Life of Jefferson will be hypothetical. Students should assign activities to the times on the schedule logically. Specific times are not provided on the tour, only general times, such as “in the afternoon.” Students should note not only what Jefferson might have been doing, but also where he would have been.)

When students have finished taking notes on their tours, each group should create one composite copy of its chart to hand in to the teacher.

President Jefferson did some things in his home that are not typical—such as hosting important dignitaries—but his home was not an official residence. Ask each student, working alone, to write one sentence describing the essential difference between what happened at Monticello and what happened/happens at the White House. Encourage student volunteers to share their sentences. If desired, the class can attempt to create a consensus statement describing the essential and distinctive qualities of the White House. How do those qualities relate to the nature of the presidency (see the second bulleted item in the Assessment).

Assessment

  • Using the online floor plan of Monticello on the Room By Room Tour on the Monticello website, a link from the EDSITEment resource The Journal of the Corps of Discovery, use the mouse to point to each room one by one. As you point, the name of each room will appear in the status bar at the bottom of the screen. Ask students who worked with the Monticello materials to talk about the kinds of things that happened in each room.

    Using the elevation cut-away on The White House Room by Room/Historical Tour on The White House website, a link from the EDSITEment-reviewed website American Memory, ask students who worked with the White House materials to talk about the kinds of things that happened in each room. Then ask about any rooms not on that elevation."
  • Brainstorm a list of activities taking place at the White House that rarely take place in a typical home. Write them on the board or on a chart. Classes that have studied the presidency and/or completed the companion lesson What Happens in the White House? should be able to make an extensive list.

    Categorize the activities as follows, noting that an activity can be placed in more than one category. Put DU by activities reflecting Duties of the President (for example, meeting with the cabinet). Put PO by activities reflecting the Powers of the President (for example, ordering military action from the situation room). Put PR by activities the students consider Privileges of the office of President (for example, meeting famous people, arriving home by helicopter, etc.).

Extending The Lesson

The Basics

Time Required

1-2 class periods

Subject Areas
  • Art and Culture > Medium > Architecture
Skills
  • Compare and contrast
  • Critical analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • Discussion
  • Evaluating arguments
  • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
  • Historical analysis
  • Interpretation
  • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
  • Visual analysis
Authors
  • MMS (AL)

Resources

Media