20 Questions for Reading and Evaluating Primary Sources

The “20 Questions” series of worksheets from George Washington’s Mount Vernon are designed to guide students through a structured exploration of primary sources. Each set of questions move from concrete observations to analyses of people that lived in the past. The last questions ask students to make larger conclusions about the culture of the time in order to inform a final writing prompt. Included with each worksheet are primary sources from George Washington’s world.

View Lesson Plan

A Grub Hoe

This activity is designed to question students' assumptions on how labor was divided at Mount Vernon. Students will look at an artifact (the grub hoe) and then analyze primary and secondary sources to reinterpret that artifact. They will learn that enslaved women primary worked in the fields, while enslaved men usually did "skilled" tasks. This is an activity that will illustrate how gender binaries are constructed and have changed throughout history. It also reinforces students' STEM skills, such as percentages and ratios. 

View Lesson Plan

Bullet Journaling with Washington

This activity connects students to George Washington's meticulous record keeping by equating it with modern day bullet journaling. Students will look at a 1793 Farm Report that was made by one of Washington's overseers and sent to Washington while he was President. Students will then keep a bullet journal for a week to experiment recording their own information. By reflecting on their experience, they will be able to get a better understanding of Washington.

View Lesson Plan

Choose Your Weapon

This activity recreates the distribution of Washington's swords between his five nephews after his death. In groups of five, students will learn about five of George Washington's swords, after which they work together to choose which sword they would pick. They will consequently learn about how swords were used in the 18th century to represent a person's rank and identity, as well as the situation they are in. Students will also realize how artifacts are not static and their lives continue beyond their original use. 

View Lesson Plan

Presidency Comparison

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students compare how both George and Martha Washington felt about General Washington becoming the first President of the United States. This lesson builds on the George Washington's Letter to Henry Knox about the Presidency and Martha Washington's Letter about the Presidency worksheets, which are included in this PDF lesson plan. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

View Lesson Plan

Snuff Box and Hogshead

This activity compares two containers of tobacco- one on the production side and the other on the consumption side to show how tobacco was made and sold in the Colonies and in England. Students will analyze a snuff box and hogshead as well as British advertisements for tobacco and snuff to understand the importance of tobacco to the 18th century. It also shines a light on how slavery was the foundation of Colonial and English economy, government, and lifestyle. 

View Lesson Plan
Login
Buy Tickets Activities Calendar Shop Restaurant Give Membership
Estate Hours

9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save