Many state social studies standards expect first-grade students to recognize George Washington and know that he was our country's first president. Understanding Washington's importance is one of the first things that children learn about our country's history. Lesson plans on Washington can incorporate many other subjects as well, such as reading and writing.
One way to introduce students to Washington is to read them a biography of him, like David Adler's "A Picture Book of George Washington" and/or "George Washington: Our First President" by Garnet Jackson. Both books accurately describe Washington's life in terms that children can understand, without resorting to myths. Students will learn the high points of Washington's life, and they'll be introduced to the genre of biography. After reading, first-graders can help you write a list of important events in Washington's life. You can do the writing based on their suggestions or you can make this a shared writing activity. The texts can also be an inspiration for learning about positive character traits.
An illustrated timeline will help first-graders remember Washington's historical importance and teach them about timelines and visualization. Using a colored strip of paper as long as your board or wall, have students tell you about Washington's life, such as his involvement in the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress and being elected president. You can write these events on the timeline, making sure that students say where on the timeline things should go. Then students should draw pictures to show the events listed. You can have students volunteer for each event picture, or you can assign them). Finally, you can attach the pictures to the appropriate places on the timeline.
First-graders are beginning to be able to record what they know and to write complete sentences. You can help them practice by encouraging them to write about Washington. They can write in learning journals by simply jotting down things they remember, or they can write several sentences about our first president. You can even have the class create a biography of Washington, with each student writing a sentence about his life.
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