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Putting It All Together

In this lesson, students meet the people and learn of the events that influenced the development of Abraham Lincoln's character and personality as a youth on the Indiana frontier. The following activities will help them apply what they have learned.

Activity 1: Recreating a Personal Childhood
Abraham Lincoln never wrote his life story so it is impossible for us to know for sure how he felt about his childhood. But now we can see ways in which experiences and people of his childhood influenced things he did as an adult and helped shape his personality and beliefs. Have students reflect on their lives thus far. Have them pretend that they are 77 years old and writing about their childhood. What amusements did they enjoy as young children? How were these amusements shaped by their surroundings? What role has school, neighborhood, and family played in shaping their values? What kinds of things did they learn that helped them in their adult lives? Have students share their "memories" with the class. Emphasize to the class that while our individual experiences may be different, we all share the experience of being shaped by our past.

Activity 2: Abraham Lincoln and U.S. History
Have students check three or four different U.S. history textbooks to see how the authors present Lincoln. What kinds of adjectives are used to describe the man and his accomplishments? How do these adjectives compare with what they learned in this lesson about Lincoln's Indiana childhood? Have students write a short biography of Lincoln's youth using materials provided in this lesson, in U.S. history books, and in books available in libraries.

However, not all people in the U.S. rallied around Abraham Lincoln as President. An alternate activity would be to have students research varying opinions on Lincoln using media sources available to the public during his election, his presidency, and his death. Hold a class discussion that compares and contrasts these varying opinions with what was learned about Lincoln in this lesson. Why do students think Lincoln was such a controversial figure in U.S. history?

Activity 3: Important Figures in Your Local Community
Have students conduct research on an important figure in their own community, preferably one associated with a historic site. Ask students to investigate the following questions and prepare a presentation including visuals on the subject: What did the individual do to achieve distinction? How are the site and the individual related? How and why was the site preserved? If the place no longer exists, what happened to it and when? Would it have helped them understand the person better if the place had survived? If the place still exists, what programs do they offer to learn about the history of the site (for example, the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial has a living historical farm)? How do they compare to what is being done at Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial (If needed, for more information please visit the park's website at http://www.nps.gov/libo/.)? How might the site improve its interpretation? Have students create posters with photographs, drawings, written information, and/or other materials relating to the subject person and place. Have each student present their findings and then hold a classroom discussion on whether or not students feel it is important to preserve historic sites that are associated with important persons of the past.

 

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