Abraham Lincoln was curious and mysterious. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was one of the most celebrated events in the 16th president’s life, it’s also one of the least chronicled. And because Lincoln kept much of his private life and thoughts under wraps, in many ways he remains an enigma.
Meanwhile, George Washington, the nation’s first president, was well-known as the commander of the Continental Army and president of the Constitutional Convention. He also was a land surveyor who had no middle name.
February is a good month for K-12 teachers to include presidential history into lesson plans starting with Lincoln, who was born on Feb. 12, 1809, and George Washington, who was born on Feb. 22, 1732. The Presidents Day holiday, celebrated on the third Monday in February, honors both men.
While dozens of good educational websites focus on each president, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. Here are two good websites full of interesting and fun facts about Lincoln and Washington that teachers should consider.
Abraham Lincoln’s Classroom
Presented by the Lehrman Institute, this impressive website targets students in upper elementary grades through high school. It has a rich collection of resources focusing on Lincoln’s life and presidency. It includes many fun and dynamic features that teachers can use to engage students while they learn. Among the most interesting:
- Articles. Bibliographies, stories and timelines.
- Humor. Political cartoons and illustrations.
- Maps. Lincoln’s travel routes and the judicial circuit where he practiced as a lawyer in Illinois.
- Quizzes. Multiple-choice tests on Lincoln’s presidency, accomplishments, family and colleagues.
- Resources. Links to major Lincoln speeches and writings, primary source documents and biographies.
Though teachers don’t have to register to take advantage of the website’s main content, registration unlocks free access to more research topics, downloadable lesson plans and the ability to upload documents to share with others.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon website
This website is part of the Mount Vernon estate and mansion near Washington, D.C., where George Washington lived in his later years. It includes photos, virtual tours and historical information about Washington’s time there and how he expanded the mansion.
Clicking the “George Washington” link in the navigation bar at the top of the homepage takes website visitors to detailed articles, photos and links about Washington’s life and political career.
- Family. Wife Martha and extended family. Were there children?
- Key facts. Birth date, years served as president, religion, political affiliation and more.
- Myths. Did Washington really chop down a cherry tree or never tell a lie?
- Presidency. Unanimous election, State of the Union Address, Cabinet members and more.
- Slavery. Washington’s background and thoughts on slavery and how they evolved over time.
The site also explores Washington’s roles in the U.S. Revolutionary War and the French and Indian wars. Multimedia include an animated presentation about Washington and the formation of the U.S. Constitution, and a video chronicling the famous crossing of the Delaware River and the battles of Trenton and Princeton.
All content in the website is good for students in elementary grades through high school. No registration is necessary.