Lesson Plans: Grades 3-5

Lesson 1: What Is the Purpose of the White House?


The Lesson


The White House

The White House

Credit: Courtesy of American Memory

Ask students where the President lives. Ask where the President does most of his work. Working at home is quite common now, but Presidents have worked and lived in the White House since November 1, 1800 (see the EDSITEment resource American Memory), when John and Abigail Adams moved in. Ask students to think for a moment about what happens at the White House.

Guiding Questions

What functions does our presidential residence serve?

Learning Objectives

  • List activities that take place at 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. What Happens in the White House

Show the class some or all of the following images from the modern presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Compile a list of what happens at the White House and, if desired, where it happens. (NOTE: All images are available through the online Archival Research Center [ARC] of the EDSITEment reviewed website Digital Classroom.)


Engage the class in a discussion about the images. The President (and family) lives and works in the White House. Which images show "living"?


A combination of the two?

Help students understand the nature of a ceremonial event.

Which images show ceremonial events? Which show work in session?

What kind of "house" is required to facilitate everything a President must do?

The President's office is the Oval Office. In the activity above, students may have viewed a photo of the Oval Office during the Carter Administration. If desired, students can explore the interactive activity Design the Oval Office for Yourself on National Geographic's Inside the White House, a link from the EDSITEment resource Explore DC.

The Basics

Time Required

1 class periods

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


Activity Worksheets