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U.S. Set to Celebrate Lincoln Bicentennial



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
Social Studies
--Current Events
----U.S. History


Grades 2-up

News Content

The bicentennial of Abraham Lincolns birth (February 12, 1809) is cause for a national celebration.

Anticipation Guide

Invite students to share what the name Abraham Lincoln means to them. Write their responses on a sheet of chart paper.

News Words

More About

Did you know that the U.S. penny, which features Abraham Lincoln on the front, is being redesigned? See a previous News for Kids story, U.S. Penny to Get Four New Designs (10/1/2008).

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: ceremony, slavery, bicentennial, popular, challenges, and legislature. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:
  • Our state _____ must find ways to cut millions of dollars from the budget. (legislature)
  • President Obama was sworn in at an inauguration _____ on January 20. (ceremony)
  • Two of the most _____ musical acts today are Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. (popular)
  • Louisiana became a state on April 30, 1812. In 2012, the state will celebrate its _____ . (bicentennial)
  • The destruction of the World Trade Center by terrorists was one of the biggest _____ that President Bush faced while in office. (challenges)
  • In 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which put an end to _____. (slavery)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story U.S. Set to Celebrate Lincoln Bicentennial.

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Lincoln believed that all people are equal -- just like the Declaration of Independence says. He always thought slavery was wrong and worked to make slavery illegal in the United States.
  • A special Birthday Tribute and Wreath-Laying Ceremony" will take place at the Lincoln Memorial (Washington, D.C.) on February 12. President Barack Obama has been invited to commemorate the 16th president. Singer Michael Feinstein will sing a new rendition of the National Anthem, accompanied by the U.S. Marine Corps Band. Poet Nikki Giovanni will recite her new work, written especially for the Bicentennial. School children will read the Gettysburg Address.
  • A National Teach-In" will be webcast on at 1:30 p.m. EST on February 12. The webcast, recommended for students in grades 6-12, will feature Lincoln scholars Doris Kearns Goodwin, Matthew Pinsker, and Harold Holzer, who will share their expertise and answer students questions.
  • Lincoln earned many nicknames during his lifetime. Following are a handful of those nicknames.
    --- The Flatboatman. He operated a ferry over the Ohio River in the year before he left Indiana for Illinois.
    --- The Rail-Splitter. That was another job he held, but the name stuck because he ran for office as a third-party candidate (the new Republican Party), which "split" off from the Whig party.
    --- The Illinois Ape. Some of his Southern enemies called him this because of his rural upbringing and rough-hewn looks.
    --- The Ancient One. White House insiders used to call him this because he was prone to use a lot of old sayings (ancient wisdom)."
    --- Other nicknames included The Sage of Springfield and The Uncommon Friend of the Common Man.
  • The Library of Congress national Lincoln Bicentennial exhibition, "With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibit," will open to the public on February 12. The exhibit charts Lincoln's growth from prairie lawyer to preeminent statesman and addresses the monumental issues he faced including slavery and race, dissolution of the Union, and the Civil War. Featuring numerous photographs, letters, speeches, campaign artifacts, and other rarely seen treasures from the Library's collections, the exhibit runs thru May 9, 2009. After the exhibit closes in Washington, it travels to Sacramento (June 22August 22); Chicago (October 10December 19); Indianapolis (February 22April 22, 2010); Atlanta (September 4November 6, 2010); and Omaha (January 8March 5, 2011).
  • President Barack Obama is a big fan of Lincolns. He has read a lot about Lincoln, and he announced his candidacy for president in front of the old State Capitol in Illinois, where Lincoln began his political career. At his inauguration, President Obama was sworn in using the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used for his swearing in (which is part of the collection of the Library of Congress). In addition, in the days leading up to his inauguration, Obama traced the train route that Lincoln took to his own inauguration in 1861.
  • Katie Couric once asked Obama which book, aside from the Bible, he would find essential in the Oval Office. Obama replied, , Doris Kearns Goodwin's 2005 bestseller that recounts how Lincoln surrounded himself with advisers who were better educated and more experienced than he was.
  • You can order the official Lincoln Bicentennial poster for your school. Click here to learn more.

    Comprehension Check

    Recalling Detail

  • When was Abraham Lincoln born? (in 1809, on February 12)
  • How will the bicentennial of Lincolns birth be celebrated at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.? (President Obama is scheduled to speak; wreaths will be laid; there will be music and a poem; kids will recite the Gettysburg Address)
  • Which war took place during Lincolns term as president? (the Civil War)
  • What were some of the jobs Lincoln held before becoming president? (Among many jobs, Lincoln was a rail splitter, a lawyer, a state legislator, and a member of the U.S. Congress.)
  • Why is Lincoln often called The Great Emancipator? (because he freed the slaves [with his Emancipation Proclamation])
  • By what nickname did Lincolns enemies in the South sometimes call him? (Old Abe)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about new nicknames for Honest Abe."

    Think Some More

  • Learn more about Lincolns life and come up with a new nickname that you think might be an appropriate one for Abe.
  • Write the following statement on chart paper or a black/whiteboard: Abraham Lincoln was the greatest president our nation has seen. Invite students to agree or disagree with that statement and to explain why they feel the way they do.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Citizenship plan an event. Your school can become a Lincoln Legacy Bicentennial School by planting a tree in his honor or planning another special event to commemorate the bicentennial of Lincolns birth. Following are a few possible events suggested by the Lincoln Bicentennial Committee.

  • Research your communitys history during the Lincoln Era, especially during the Civil War.
  • Sponsor an amateur Abraham Lincoln look-alike contest in your community.
  • Sponsor wreath laying events at Lincoln statues, Civil War veteran statues, and include re-enactors, school children, and music.
  • Gather as many images of Lincoln as you can find -- from official portraits to advisements -- and arrange them in a collage to put on display.
  • Hold an in-school competition of the reciting of the Gettysburg Address.
    Go to the Lincoln Bicentennial Web site for more activity ideas for schools.

    Language arts and history write a news account. Have students research the topics listed below using the Internet, the library, their textbooks, and other resources. Have students write a newspaper account as if they were reporting on one of these stories:

  • Lincoln's "House Divided Speech" (1858)
  • Lincoln's Republican Party Presidential Nomination (1860)
  • The Election of Abraham Lincoln (1860)
  • Lincoln's Farewell from Springfield (1861)
  • Lincoln's Funeral (1865)
    This lesson idea is one of many you can find on the Teaching With Historic Places: Lincolns Springfield Home Web page.

    Geography. On a large U.S. map have students show the locations of counties and cities named for Abraham Lincoln. Alternatively, older students might complete this activity on an individual U.S. outline map.

    History -- Lincolns life. Share with students a grade-appropriate biography of Abraham Lincoln. After reading the book, see how well students do on this Honest Abe Quiz from the Lincoln Bicentennial Web site.

    Language arts essay contest. Encourage students to take part in the Looking for Your Lincoln Hero essay contest. Sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area and, the contest offers young people an opportunity to submit their thoughts describing who in their life inspires them most like Lincoln. The contest deadline is March 1, 2009. [learn more]


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section above.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.1 What Is Government?
    NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
    NSS-C.5-8.2 Foundations of the American Political System
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
    NSS-C.9-12.2 Foundations of the Political System

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
    GRADES 5 - 12
    NSS-USH.5-12.5 Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
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