Lesson Plans: Grades 3-5

Lesson 3: What Happens in the White House? A Timeline

Tools

The Lesson

Introduction

The White House

The White House

Credit: Courtesy of American Memory

Before beginning this lesson, refer to the images and group assignments in lesson two "What Has Happened in the White House?".

Call up each student group in chronological order. Students should describe their image, briefly tell the class about what their research revealed, read their caption, and post the image on your History of the White House Timeline. If desired, challenge students to find other events appropriate for the timeline.

Guiding Questions

How has the White House been touched by the great events of our nation's history?

Learning Objectives

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

Preparation Instructions

  • Review the lesson plan. 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. A Timeline

Before beginning this lesson, refer to the images and group assignments in lesson two "What Has Happened in the White House?".

Call up each student group in chronological order. Students should describe their image, briefly tell the class about what their research revealed, read their caption, and post the image on your History of the White House Timeline. If desired, challenge students to find other events appropriate for the timeline.

How did a review of these historic events make students feel about the White House? If the nation decided to build a new, more modern-looking house for the President, it could be designed purposefully for all the things a President now needs to do. Would it be a good idea to redesign the White House building or is it better in some way that it has basically stayed the same since it was built? Why? (NOTE: For more on the White House building and the changes it has undergone, consult the companion EDSITEment lesson From the White House of Yesterday to the White House of Today.)

Assessment

Share the following quote with the class:

For two hundred years, the White House has stood as a symbol of the Presidency, the United States government, and the American people.”
—From White House History on the official website of The White House, a link from the EDSITEment resource American Memory

How can a building in which people actually live be a symbol—that is, how can it stand for an idea?

What are some of the ideas it might represent? Sometimes, the White House is called “America's House.” Why would it be called that when only the President and First Family live there?

Working individually or in groups, have students create an explanation, giving specific reasons and examples of why the White House could be called “America's House.” (If a student feels another “nickname” would be more appropriate, s/he can defend that choice in an explanation.) Make sure students use their knowledge of the different activities that occur at the White House as well as what has happened there in the past in formulating their answers.

Extending The Lesson

Selected EDSITEment Websites

The Basics

Time Required

1 class periods

Subject Areas
  • History and Social Studies > Themes > Politics and Citizenship
Skills
  • Critical analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • Cultural analysis
  • Discussion
  • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
  • Historical analysis
  • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
  • Using primary sources
  • Visual analysis
Authors
  • MMS (AL)

Resources

Activity Worksheets
Media