Presidents Day Lesson Plan

By Annie Thornton 01.30.2017 blog

Prepare your students for Presidents’ Day with our lesson plan about Abraham Lincoln, including a close reading of his historical speech, the Gettysburg Address.

Day 1: Abraham Lincoln


End of Civil War Anniversary Transcript


  • What did several states do following Lincoln’s election? Why?
  • When and why did Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation?
  • Why was Gettysburg a significant battle in the war? What inspired Lincoln to deliver his famous speech here?


Students read this text on Abraham Lincoln at individually, highlighting important events in Lincoln’s life.


Students share their highlighted events with a partner, then work together to create a timeline of important events in Lincoln’s life.

Whole Class 

Call on partners to share their responses. Then create one large classroom timeline of Lincoln’s life, based on student responses. Be sure to include the years of the Civil War: 1861-1865. 

Day 2: Close reading of the Gettysburg Address


Geo Week 2013: Where Is Gettysburg Transcript

Check for Understanding

  • Summarize the events of the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • What was the purpose of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address?

Distribute copies of the Gettysburg Address to each student, along with supporting vocabulary definitions:

  • fourscore: four times twenty
  • consecrate: to make or declare as sacred
  • hallow: to honor as holy
  • detract: to lessen or reduce
  • nobly: bravely
  • resolve: to promise 

Independent Work 

Each student reads the Address in its entirety. Students review the first paragraph only, highlighting any words or phrases that are confusing or unclear.

Whole Class

Read the entire Address aloud to class. Instruct students to focus on the first paragraph, and answer the following:

  • What date does Lincoln refer to at the beginning of the Address? What is the historical significance of this date?
  • Who are our “fathers” and what did they accomplish?
  • How does Lincoln describe our nation?
  • Ask students if they have are any questions or comments about first paragraph.


Invite students to read through the second paragraph independently, and then answer the following questions on their own:

  • Who is the “we,” fighting in this war?
  • What is the war testing, according to Lincoln?
  • What does Lincoln mean by the words “we are met” on a great battlefield?
  • What is the reason Lincoln and his audience have gathered there? Which specific words indicate this reason?
  • Students discuss responses with a partner, working together to answer all questions completely.
  • Share student responses with class.

Independent Work

Invite students to read the third paragraph.

Check for Understanding

  • Why does Lincoln say that they cannot adequately dedicate this land?
  • What is the “great task remaining before us”?
  • Explain the concept of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”


Students rewrite the third paragraph of the Gettysburg Address in their own words. Ask students to share their responses aloud. 

Day 3: Final Project

First, watch President Obama recite the Gettysburg Address. Then, choose any three videos to watch at

Write a brief evaluation for each one. Which speaker was most effective? Why? Who was not as effective? Why? Be sure to provide details to support your opinions.

  • Record your own recitation of the Gettysburg Address.
  • Send in your videos to for the chance to be featured on our show!

Exit Ticket

Do you believe the Gettysburg Address is still relevant today? Why or why not?


  1. shaelyn

    Yes, because it is something that all students need to know. Some people don’t know much about it like me. It needs to be something that is taught in every schools sence we learn about the president’s in schools so why not learn about this. I think that a lot of people don’t know about it . It will be something really good for people to know every little detale about it.

  2. shaelyn

    Yes, I think that we should learn about it today in our schools. It would help a lot of people that don’t know much about it like me. We should always remember it .

  3. Jack Mehoff

    I think It was very not relevant.

  4. Filma Groyn

    It personally, think it is very relevant.

  5. Tris

    As of today, no. I don’t think it’s as relevant as it was back then.

  6. Morgan Rolley

    Of course! They risked THEIR life for our freedom. We should honor them more because without those militants, there would still be slaves today.

    • Hunter Gibson

      your cool and truthful Morgan Rolley!!!!

      • Raymond

        Morgan Rolly you said it the truth is if the south would have won some of us wouldn’t be living in the United States

  7. Morgan Rolley

    Of course! Those people gave THEIR life for out freedom. we should honor them more. If they did not fight for us, there would still be slaves today.

  8. Ezra.spencer

    i think that is good

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