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Lesson Plans

Mount Vernon’s Resources for Teachers includes lesson plans developed by master teachers, including graduates of the George Washington Teachers’ Institute, as well as by Mount Vernon educators and historians.

Please note: We are currently working to update the “Curriculum Standards” addressed portion of each lesson plan to reflect the shift to Common Core Standards and the C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards. While these lesson plans do not currently include a detailed list of applicable standards, our resources place emphasis, through the use of activities and text, on increasing historical literacy by challenging students to read, analyze, synthesize, and discuss. We firmly believe that the fundamental concept to engaging and long-lasting learning is the ability for students to explore the past through observation, discussion, conversation and the use of critical thinking skills to share ideas both verbally and in writing.

Elementary School Lesson Plans

Celebrating George Washington in the Classroom
Included are two activities for celebrating George Washington in the classroom. Students will read an article from the Massachusetts Gazette and complete a primary source worksheet in Reading the News. Celebrating George Washington will direct students in the planning of a classroom or school-wide celebration of George Washington’s birthday.
Download: Celebrating George Washington in the Classroom

Celebrating in Music and Song
Students will examine the verses to the popular 18th-century song Yankee Doodle and create their own verses in a song writing challenge.
Download: Celebrating in Music and Song

Centerpiece of a Nation
Students will use primary images as a model for creating their own "display" of states and choosing a "centerpiece" that defines our nation today. This lesson can accompany the distance learning broadcast, Primarily George.
Download: Centerpiece of a Nation Lesson Plan

Creating 18th Century Clothing
Students will learn about the 18th-century clothing worn by George and Martha Washington. Included are suggestions to easily recreate 18th-century clothing in the classroom.
Download: Creating 18th Century Clothing

Culper Code Math Activity - Elementary
Students will decode a letter for George Washington by solving 8 elementary level math problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Using their answers and the Culper Code, a spy code used during the American Revolution, students will fill in the blanks of Culper Spy Ring member Caleb Brewster’s 1781 letter to George Washington.
Download: Culper Code Math Activity - Elementary

A Day at Mount Vernon
Students will listen to a story about daily life at Mount Vernon, and recognize the connections between George Washington and his slaves.
Download: A Day at Mount Vernon

George Washington BINGO
Students will learn historical facts about the life of George Washington using the entertaining game format, BINGO.
Download: George Washington BINGO

George Washington's Trunk
Students will learn about the many roles that Washington engaged in throughout his life and create their own “George Washington’s trunk” of objects that reflect these activities
Download: George Washington's Trunk

Origin of the Purple Heart
Students will learn that during the American Revolution, Washington established the Purple Heart military decoration, known at the time as the Badge of Military Merit, and explore the historical and modern significance of this award.
Download: Origin of the Purple Heart

Going by the Rules
Students will be introduced to George Washington’s Rules of Civility and consider their value in making decisions that lead to success.
Download: Going by the Rules

Mind Your Manners
Students will examine George Washington’s Rules of Civility and work to rephrase them into modern language.
Download: Mind Your Manners

Trip to Mount Vernon
Students will compare and contrast travel in the 18th century with travel in current times by planning and simulating a trip to Mount Vernon from a chosen location in the colonies.
Download: Trip to Mount Vernon

Washington's Newburgh Address
Students will learn about the Newburgh Crisis and Washington’s Newburgh Address through primary and secondary sources, then write a persuasive essay that compares Washington’s character to a leader of their choosing who has overcome a difficult obstacle.
Download: Washington's Newburgh Address

What's Hidden in the Midden?
Students use Mount Vernon's archaeological site George Washington's Midden (a fancy word for trash) to study objects, archaeology, math and science. The artifacts excavated from the midden provide an insight into daily life, diet and furnishings during George and Martha Washington's life.
Download: What's Hidden in the Midden?

Middle School Lesson Plans

Culper Code Math Activity - Algebra
Students will decode a letter for George Washington by solving 8 algebra based math problems stressing the importance of the order of operations. Using their answers and the Culper Code, a spy code used during the American Revolution, students will fill in the blanks of Culper Spy Ring member Caleb Brewster’s 1781 letter to George Washington.
Download: Culper Code Math Activity - Algebra

Establishing the Presidency
Students analyze primary documents in order to discuss the challenges that George Washington faced as the first president of a new country.
Download: Establishing the Presidency

Manners & Mores of Washington's America
Students examine the Rules of Civility that George Washington hand-copied as a teenager. They then classify and categorize the concerns addressed, discuss what it would be like to live in a world imbued with such guidelines, analyze what expectations govern their own behavior, and generate a list of modern Rules covering the same categories they identified in Washington’s list.
Download: Manners & Mores of Washington's America

Washington & Slavery: The 1799 Slave Census
Students examine George Washington’s 1799 Slave Census to discover Washington as a meticulous businessman and slave owner and to gain information about the institution of slavery in the 18th century.
Download: Washington & Slavery: The 1799 Slave Census

George Washington & Civic Virtue
Students focus on George Washington’s character and civic virtues and examine the connection between those virtues and a democratic and free society in the United States.
Download: George Washington & Civic Virtue

Claiming Common Ground
Students explore why George Washington’s home was able to transcend the sectional differences that split the nation during the Civil War.
Download: Claiming Common Ground

George Washington – A Graphic Novel
Students research, examine and understand four major events in George Washington’s life and present them in a graphic novel format.
Download: George Washington – A Graphic Novel

George Washington's Revolutionary Journeys
Students use cooperative learning, problem solving, and project-based activities to discover journeys George Washington made during the Revolutionary War, create 18th century maps, and compare them to modern state boundaries, towns, and roads.
Download: George Washington's Revolutionary Journeys

George Washington Crossing the Delaware
Students explore and describe Emmanuel Leutze's painting, "George Washington Crossing the Delaware," and research the artist, the Revolutionary war at the time depicted, and the work itself. They then write and perform a one-act play dramatizing the events and action leading up to the crossing.
Download: George Washington Crossing the Delaware

George Washington in Song
Students investigate and analyze the historical significance of the Revolutionary War song, “Yankee Doodle” and create their own “Yankee Doodle”-style verses about the War.
Download: George Washington in Song

In Remembrance of George Washington
Students write a eulogy describing the important contributions George Washington made to our country.
Download: In Remembrance of George Washington

My Very Own Washington Exhibition
Students use multiple research sources to choose objects and curate their own exhibition on a specific theme of George Washington’s life.
Download: My Very Own Washington Exhibition

Surveying Our First President
Students examine George Washington's journals and surveys and use a GPS device to survey and map a site at their school.
Download: Surveying Our First President

American Colonists Protest Song
Students take on the role of a member of the Sons or Daughters of Liberty and write a song, in the genre of their choice, to protest one or more of the British Acts or actions between 1763 and 1774 that eventually led to the American Revolution.
Download: American Colonists Protest Song

High School Lesson Plans

Who Are Our Greatest Presidents?
Students will use a systematic analytical method to compare past presidents and current or potential future presidents and determine their own research-based ranking system
Download: Who Are Our Greatest Presidents?

From George to Martha: Writing a Sonnet Using Primary Sources
Only two letters from George Washington to Martha Washington are known to exist, as Martha destroyed personal correspondence after his death. From these two surviving documents, historians have long tried to analyze the relationship between the two. In this assignment, students will perform their own analyses by reading the letters and writing an original English sonnet – a poetic form often used to convey themes of love, romance, and relationships – from George Washington to his wife, Martha.
Download: From George to Martha: Writing a Sonnet Using Primary Sources

Using Political Cartoons to Understand Historical Events
Mount Vernon invited several well-known political cartoonists from newspapers across the country to draw cartoons focusing on major issues of George Washington’s presidency. Students will analyze uncaptioned versions of these cartoons and background information about the historical issues depicted, create their own captions and exhibit labels, and then compare their writing with the originals.
Download: Using Political Cartoons to Understand Historical Events

Exploring George Washington's Leadership
This lesson plan uses primary documents, such as Washington's Circular to the Governors, to explore the relationship between the many roles in George Washington's life and his leadership characteristics.
Download: Exploring George Washington's Leadership

George Washington and the Classics
The intent of this lesson is to familiarize students with the similarities and differences in the views of classical philosophers and George Washington.
Download: George Washington and the Classics

George Washington's Foreign Policy
This lesson will connect Washington’s Farewell Address to later presidential foreign policy messages and determine the influence of George Washington’s message had on the nation’s posterity.
Download: George Washington's Foreign Policy

The Man Who Made the Presidency
Students will analyze George Washington’s role in defining the presidency and learn how his legacy continues to impact the office today.
Download: The Man Who Made the Presidency

Apotheosis of George Washington
Students will examine 19th century art and primary documents to identify the symbolism used to communicate George Washington’s apotheosis.
Download: Apotheosis of George Washington

Meet the Press: American Presidents
Using the weekly news show “Meet the Press” as a model, students will portray George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Barack Obama in a television interview. Students will develop answers to the host’s questions by researching primary documents and current news articles.
Download: Meet the Press: American Presidents

What Makes a General?
This lesson explores George Washington’s leadership and character as commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary War by bringing to life the relationships between him and his generals as they fought for our nation’s freedom.
Download: What Makes a General?

The Right Choice
Students will discuss the selection of George Washington as commander of the Continental Army, evaluate his qualifications, and decide if he was, indeed, the right choice.
Download: The Right Choice

George Washington Stood Here – On the Issue of Slavery
Students will examine George Washington's role as a man who fought for and led our country in the belief that "all men are created equal" while also owning slaves.
Download: George Washington Stood Here – On the Issue of Slavery

Elementary Activity Sheets

American Revolution Fill in the Blank

Download: American Revolution Fill in the Blank

American Revolution Fill-In-The-Blank

Download: American Revolution Fill-In-The-Blank

Thirteen Colonies Word Scramble

Download: Thirteen Colonies Word Scramble

Crossing the Delaware River Coloring Sheet

Download: Crossing the Delaware River Coloring Sheet

Enjoying the Trees

Download: Enjoying the Trees

Finish Drawing Washington!

Download: Finish Drawing Washington!

George Washington - Spymaster

Download: George Washington - Spymaster

Map of the Thirteen Colonies

Download: Map of the Thirteen Colonies

Mount Vernon Crossword

Download: Mount Vernon Crossword

Paper George

Download: Paper George

Revolutionary War Word Search

Download: Revolutionary War Word Search

The Washington Family Coloring Sheet

Download: The Washington Family Coloring Sheet

Washington in the Wilderness Coloring Sheet

Download: Washington in the Wilderness Coloring Sheet

Washington at Princeton Coloring Sheet

Download: Washington at Princeton Coloring Sheet

What Is It?

Download: What Is It?