Use these teaching resources to talk to your students about the Civil War and President Lincoln's famous speech.
About the Book
Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln tells the story of the events preceding, and the actual delivery of, President Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address. Students will be introduced to the Civil War, the resulting battles, and President Lincoln's resolve to unify the country. The inclusion of the events surrounding Lincoln's son Tad's illness and recovery during this time help to pull young readers into the story and make the emotion behind the burden of the presidency more real for them.
The actual Gettysburg Address is printed at the end of the story. Students will come to understand that few words, if carefully chosen, are all that are necessary to communicate important, powerful ideas.
- Be introduced to the Civil War
- Learn about President Lincoln
- Become familiar with the Gettysburg Address
- What did you learn about the cause of the Civil War at the beginning of the story?
- What happened in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania?
- Why was it decided to build a special cemetery in Gettysburg?
- What did President Lincoln want to tell the people at Gettysburg?
- Why do you think the Gettysburg Address became such a famous speech?
- Locate Gettysburg on a map. Then research other famous battles of the Civil War and help students find their locations on the map. As students research these sites, discuss what life may have been like if the north and south actually became two separate countries.
- Share simple picture and chapter books about President Lincoln with students (try the Picture Books About Abe Lincoln book list for suggested titles). Discuss Lincoln's policies, family life, and character. Give students an opportunity to share with their classmates the things they felt were most important about Lincoln and his presidency.
- Introduce the concept of slavery to the class. As you discuss this sensitive topic, have students try to imagine what life might have been like for the slaves, what they might have done to find some pleasure in life, and how they might have felt when they were finally freed.
- Have students consider what kind of message they might give to their classmates that would have meaning for all of them. Students might want to write these messages in the form of a speech, or on note cards. Let students take turns delivering their "messages."
- Help students compare and contrast life in the 1800s with modern day living. Share books and films and visit museums where representations of life during this time can come alive for students. Ask:
- What would you have enjoyed about life in the 1800s?
- What things would have been more difficult to do than they are today?
- How would you travel?
- What would you do for entertainment?
- What kinds of chores might you have?
- Invite students to draw pictures of President Lincoln performing some of the activities he would have been engaged in as president. Encourage students to share their finished drawings with the entire class. Arrange a special "President Lincoln" display area on a classroom wall or bulletin board. Use a cutout of a large stovepipe hat as a background for the display of drawings.
Recommended Books and Programs
More Jean Fritz Programs From Weston Woods
- And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Margot Tomes
- George Washington's Mother by Jean Fritz, illustrated by DyAnne diSalvo-Ryan
- Jean Fritz: Six Revolutionary War Figures by Jean Fritz
- Shh! We're Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Tomie dePaola
- What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Margot Tomas
- Where Do You Think You're Going, Christopher Columbus? by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Margot Tomes
- Who's That Stepping on Plymouth Rock? by Jean Fritz, illustrated by J.B. Handlelsman
- Why Don't You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
- Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
This guide may be photocopied for free distribution without restriction. Copyright 2008 Weston Woods.