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Teaching with Historic Places

Heritage Education Services Program

Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) uses properties listed in the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places to enliven history, social studies, geography, civics, and other subjects. TwHP has created a variety of products and activities that help teachers bring historic places into the classroom.


Presidential History

Teaching with Historic Places has posted on the web the following lesson plans that help tell the personal and political stories of some of our presidents. These lessons, based on sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places, are free and ready for immediate classroom use by students in history and social studies classes.


The Battle of Horseshoe Bend: Collision of Cultures (54)
Consider the complex political and cultural differences that existed between European Americans and American Indians during the early 19th century, and learn how the campaign against the Creeks increased Andrew Jackson’s popularity among American citizens, which helped him win the presidency. (National Park)

Birthplace of John F. Kennedy: Home of the Boy Who Would Be President (33)
Visit JFK's birthplace and consider the effects of culture and community in shaping character and personality. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

Choices and Commitments: The Soldiers at Gettysburg (44)
Trace the course of this Civil War battle and consider the wrenching personal choices that were made by soldiers on each side, and evaluate Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and its impact in regard to the occasion it was written to commemorate. (National Park)

“The Greatest Dam in the World”: Building Hoover Dam (140)
Learn how many Americans came to see Hoover Dam, planned and begun under Republican administrations, as an example of President Roosevelt’s New Deal in action. (National Historic Landmark)

Growing into Public Service: William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home (15)
Visit the home of the only man to serve the country both as president and chief justice, and meet the rest of his public service-oriented family. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

Harry Truman and Independence, Missouri: "This is Where I Belong" (103)
Learn why the life of the 33rd U.S. President serves as an example of civic duty and explore the town that helped form his character. (National Park/Includes Harry S Truman Historic District, a National Historic Landmark)

Herbert Hoover: Iowa Farm Boy and World Humanitarian (34)
Consider the impact of Hoover's boyhood years on his desire to help starving children as the administrator of the Belgian Relief Commission during World War I. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

Lafayette Park: First Amendment Rights on the President's Doorstep (139)
Learn how a group of determined women selected Lafayette Park, across from the White House, to demonstrate for their right to vote, providing a First Amendment model for many others. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest (108)
Learn how Thomas Jefferson's vision of western expansion resulted in the 1804-1806 expedition which effectively opened the Northwest to the influence of the United States, established relations with numerous American Indian nations, and gathered useful scientific documentation. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial: Forging Greatness during Lincoln's Youth (126)
Meet the people and learn of events that influenced the development of Abraham Lincoln's character and personality as a youth on the Indiana frontier. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

 Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial: Where Man and Memory Intersect (144)
Discover the power of place in honoring President Lincoln's origins and consider how the nation uses memorial structures and landscapes to express respect for its heroes and to celebrate anniversaries. (National Park)

Lincoln Home National Historic Site: A Place of Growth and Memory (127)
Learn how Abraham Lincoln's belief in freedom and democracy, his eloquence, and the support of family and community propelled him to the White House and uplifted him through the turbulent Civil War. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

Memories of Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison (46)
Visit the Madisons' plantation home and their world of social prominence, and explore some contemporary views of slavery. (National Historic Landmark)

Martin Van Buren's "Return to the Soil" (39)
Follow Van Buren's life and political career from his youth in Kinderhook, New York, to his retirement years at Lindenwald. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

President Lincoln's Cottage: A Retreat (138)
Explore President Abraham Lincoln’s life at a country retreat during summer months and examine the work he completed there on the Emancipation Proclamation. (National Historic Landmark)

• "The Honor of Your Company is Requested": Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball at the Patent Office (143)
Attend President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural ball and explore how American citizens celebrate their leaders taking office. (National Historic Landmark)

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site: Birthplace of the Modern Presidency (77)
Examine the circumstances under which Theodore Roosevelt first became President of the United States and how his policies and actions modernized the presidency. (National Park)

“Making the Desert Bloom”: The Rio Grande Project (141)
Use this classroom-ready lesson plan to discover how the Bureau of Reclamation transformed the arid valley of the Rio Grande by constructing Elephant Butte Dam and the Rio Grande irrigation project and to examine some of the problems encountered along the way.

The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital (151)
Enter The Octagon of Washington, DC, to discover how a historic brick house offered grandeur and stability to the new capital of the United States in the early 19th century.

Springwood: Birthplace and Home to Franklin D. Roosevelt (82)
Understand how Springwood was the keystone in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's public as well as private life by playing host to some very dramatic events in American history. (National Park)

Thaw in the Cold War: Eisenhower and Khrushchev at Gettysburg (29)
Delve into a superpower meeting and see how President Eisenhower's diplomacy temporarily eased Cold War tensions. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

Thomas Jefferson's Plan for the University of Virginia: Lessons from the Lawn (92)
Learn about the multifaceted intellect of Thomas Jefferson and how he fused his abilities as an architect, educational and political theorist, and politician to create a revolutionary new setting for higher education in the new American republic. (National Historic Landmark/UNESCO World Heritage Site)

The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone (62)
Understand why George Washington was so revered during his lifetime and beyond, and learn why it took 100 years to complete this famous monument in his honor. (National Park)

Woodrow Wilson: Prophet of Peace (14)
Examine Wilson's struggle to achieve lasting world peace following World War I. (National Historic Landmark)


To learn more about TwHP's other lessons, visit the Lesson Plan Descriptions page.