Breaking and Mending the Two-Term Precedent

This lesson draws a connection between George Washington’s establishment of the two-term precedent for the presidency and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s breaking of that precedent nearly 150 years later. In this lesson, students will analyze multiple primary and secondary sources, both collaboratively and independently. Discussion and debate is a large focus of this lesson. Students will make interdisciplinary connections between history and government/civics. This resource was created by 2013-2014 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Hannah Markwardt. 

View Lesson Plan

Disease During Wartime

This lesson draws a connection between the threat of smallpox during the Revolutionary War and the influenza pandemic during World War I. In this lesson, students will utilize educational technology to consult primary, secondary, and tertiary sources in the completion of a webquest. Writing across the curriculum is a large focus of this lesson. Students will make interdisciplinary connections between history and science (specifically biology). This resource was created by 2013-2014 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Hannah Markwardt. 

View Lesson Plan

George Washington's Foreign Policy

In this lesson, students will connect George Washington’s Farewell Address to later presidential foreign policy messages. As a group, the class will discuss the influence Washington’s message had on the nation and posterity. Students, working in groups, will then investigate excerpts from later presidential foreign policy messages. The groups will compare and contrast their assigned document with Washington’s Farewell Address and present their findings to the class. In closing, the class will conduct a Socratic Seminar analyzing past U.S. foreign policy and chart a course for future U.S. foreign policy.

View Lesson Plan

Ice Cream at Mount Vernon

Ice Cream at Mount Vernon is an inquiry-based module that provides primary and secondary sources to help students answer the question: “Why was ice cream an exclusive treat at Mount Vernon long ago?” Using a familiar sweet treat as an entry point, the students research and analyze the lives of enslaved individuals, specialized skills, and the objects that went into serving a single dish of ice cream. Source materials include farm reports, material culture objects, rooms, maps, and biographies. This project was developed in partnership with McGraw Hill Education. 

View Lesson Plan

Mount Vernon During the Civil War

This lesson plan reminds students of the continued importance of the legacy of George Washington, even in the midst of the terrible Civil War. In this lesson, students will practice map skills and analyze primary source documents (letters) in order to develop a historical argument. Students will make interdisciplinary connections between history and geography. This resource was created by 2013-2014 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Hannah Markwardt. 

View Lesson Plan

Presidency Comparison

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to compare how both George and Martha Washington felt about General Washington becoming the first President of the United States. Students should complete the George Washington's Letter to Henry Knox about the Presidency and Martha Washington's Letter about the Presidency worksheets prior to beginning this activity. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

View Lesson Plan

Realpolitik in 1793

This lesson draws a connection between the realpolitik practiced during the Nixon administration and George Washington’s foreign policy practices. It expands student application of the modern foreign policy styles to 18th century diplomatic situations. This lesson can be taught at the beginning of a unit on Nixon and Kissinger’s foreign policy practices of the late 1960s/early 1970s. Students will make interdisciplinary connections between history and government/civics. This resource was created by 2013-2014 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Hannah Markwardt. 

View Lesson Plan

Using Political Cartoons to Understand History

In 2005, Mount Vernon invited several well-known political cartoonists from newspapers across the country to draw political cartoons focusing on major issues of George Washington’s presidency. These cartoons are displayed in the galleries of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center at Mount Vernon. This lesson will use these political cartoons to engage students in a deeper understanding of George Washington’s presidency. 

View Lesson Plan

Which Grace: Analysis of Historical Resources

Primary and secondary resources provide a valuable way to understand the past, but they do not provide definitive answers that students so often expect of them. Just like the scholars at Mount Vernon, students will analyze and make claims regarding slave life at Mount Vernon without having a correct answer. Students answer the question “How many enslaved individuals named Grace, Isaac, and Suckey were there at Mount Vernon from 1750-1799?” by examining and analyzing primary source evidence. As an optional extension, they can create a biography about one of the individuals identified. 

View Lesson Plan

Who Are Our Greatest Presidents?

The President of the United States receives media coverage on a daily basis and is often ranked against, or compared to, past presidents. This lesson will help students actively develop their own conclusions, rather than passively absorbing ideas generated by the media or other outside influences. It will provide them with a systematic analytical methods to compare past presidents and current or potential future presidents and to determine their own research-based ranking system.

View Lesson Plan
Buy Tickets Shop
Donate Membership Calendar Apps Videos Email Signup Restaurant

Open 365 Days A Year

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
Mount Vernon, Virginia 22121