I Knew Him When
Language Arts Activity
Students read about the life of Abraham Lincoln and write a first-person account by someone who might have
known him at a particular stage of his life.
WHAT YOU NEED
Reference materials on the life and times of Abraham Lincoln
WHAT TO DO
- With student help, prepare a timeline of Lincoln's life, showing the major
events in his life from childhood through the presidency. Indicate various
points along the timeline and ask volunteers to figure out how old Lincoln was
at each time. Have them recall or look up where he lived then and what he was
- Assign, or have students choose, one period in Lincoln's life. Tell them to
research that period and then assume the character of someone (real or
fictional) who lived at that time and knew Lincoln. Have students write a
first-person account that tells when and how they knew Lincoln. Writers might
use actual anecdotes about Lincoln to make their stories more realistic. The
stories should reveal something about his character. They should also include
information about the narrator.
- Have students sort the accounts into chronological order and bind them to
make a fictional biography of Lincoln's life.
You may wish to set aside time for students to share their accounts as oral
presentations. Another possibility is to assemble the characters, real or
fictional, who "knew" Lincoln and have them swap tales about their experiences.
Make available on the library table biographies and historical fiction
involving historical figures. Discuss the two genres with students. Encourage
them to read the books and then form reading circles in which they discuss and
compare the different forms.
Have students assume that one of their classmates will grow up to be president
or famous in some way. They then write a first-person account of what she or he
was like as a child including noting signs of future greatness.
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