In this section of our site, we have endeavored to provide elementary teachers and students with useful primary and secondary materials to help foster understanding of early America through the life of George Washington.
While written with 4th to 6th graders in mind, these resources can work on several levels for use with various ages. First, the five slides themselves provide an overview of Washington's life as well as pertinent historical information. Ideally, this background material reiterates your own social studies curriculum. Each slide also includes two images: the one that loads with the page features the kid-friendly "G.I. George." When you rollover this image with the mouse, however, an image of the original painting on which our composite is based appears.
From the background slides, we hope you'll link to the accompanying primary documents and questions. An important theme across the series is how we come to "know" about George Washington's life and history in general. Materials from the time period, such as Washington's note to a British general, a song composed for him on his inaugural trip to New York, a letter from his niece, farm records from Mount Vernon and instructions from his dentist give students a chance to examine the life and times of a leading figure in American history firsthand. Here, then, are five opportunities for students to interact with the actual documents that George Washington wrote or read.
In addition to learning a little about American history, we've tried to challenge students to apply other basic skills reading comprehension, geography, mathematics and English as they progress through the questions. The lessons accompanying slides 1, 3, and 5 work on vocabulary skills, both using context clues to figure out the meaning of a word and also asking students to look up unfamiliar words in an online dictionary. Slide 4 links to the longest lesson in the series, offering practice in both math skills (averaging) and map-reading. Applying spelling and grammar rules is the basis for the questions to slide 3, when students have a chance to "correct" a letter from GW's niece. Each lesson can stand alone, but slide 1 and slide 2 lessons on the Washington's role in the Revolutionary War and the first presidency work well together. In each lesson, we've transcribed the manuscripts, but we hope you'll encourage students to try to use images of the originals to answer the questions.
Finally, don't forget to link to the "Teacher's Notes" for each slide for further information on the lessons.
We hope these materials will prove valuable for use with your students and welcome your comments and suggestions for improvement. Print and copy any of the materials as you find necessary. Also, we encourage teacher and/or class-generated questions about the content itself. Please write to the office at the Papers of George Washington.
Thank you for visiting the Papers of George Washington!