Lesson Plans: Grades 3-5

Lesson 2: What Has Happened in the White House?


The Lesson


The White House

The White House

Credit: Courtesy of American Memory

Introduce the following scenario. Tell students to imagine that a previously unknown cache of images, documents, and photographs has just been discovered during some minor repairs of the White House. Because the documents were carefully wrapped and stored in the White House, we suspect that each image is related to an important or interesting event in American history that affected the White House in some way.

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. What Has Happened in the White House

Divide the class into small groups. Assign one or more of the following images to each group. Distribute the document “Researching the Archival Images of the White House” on page 1 of the Master PDF. Give students the opportunity to scrutinize the assigned image, and suggest ways they can find out more about it. Information about every President is available on the EDSITEment resource American President. Another relevant online source is the History Timeline on the White House Historical Association website, a link from the EDSITEment-reviewed website Explore DC. The key words and questions provided below should also be helpful. Each group is responsible for filling out the document, sharing what they discovered with the class, and creating a brief caption for the image. (NOTE: All images are available via the EDSITEment resources American Memory or Digital Classroom unless otherwise specified.


Each group, together or individually, should be able to answer the questions that relate to the group's assigned image.

Extending The Lesson

Selected EDSITEment Websites

The Basics

Time Required

1 class periods

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


Activity Worksheets