SWBAT analyze portraits (life masks and photographs) of Abraham Lincoln to study the events of 1860-1865.

This lesson is adapted from Smithsonian In Your Classroom Abraham Lincoln: The Face of A War Series


Common Core standards:

  • 6-8.RH.1. 
  • 6-8.RH.2.
  • 6-8.RH.5.
  • 6-8.RH.7.
  • 6-8.RH.8.
  • 6-8.RH.10.
  • 6-8.WHST.7.
  • 6-8.WHST.8.
  • 6-8.WHST.9.

DCPS Social Studies Standards

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Abraham Lincol: An Extraordinary LIfe

Courtesy of Smithsonian

The Life: The Mask of Lincoln

Courtesy of the Smithsonian

Abraham Lincoln The Face of A War


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Smithsonian Lesson Plan

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Warm Up

In the mixed ability cooperative learning groups of 4, students will receive a set of 4 images

  1. Lesson Plan Page 4 (Life Mask)
  2. Lesson Plan Page 5 (Lincoln Photograph)
  3. Lesson Plan Page 8 (Lincoln Photograph)
  4. Lesson Plan Page 9 (Death Mask)
  5. Poster sized sheet of paper
  6. marker

Teacher will share some of the background (available in Lesson Plan) with the class. Each student in the group will take turn describing thier portraits using at least three adjectives. These adjectives* will be recorded on the poster.

*There should be 12 different adjectives on the poster 

New Material

Step 1

Option 1: Draw a timeline on the board marking it out with the years 1860 to 1865

Option 2: Draw a timeline on a new SMARTBoard or ActivInspire page marking it out with the years 1860 to 1865

Step 2

Place  the two sets of images at teh appropriate ends with the help of students.  This is the teacher's opportunity to ask higher ordered questions and review document/picture analysis techniques.

Step 3

Ask each group to present their adjective poster.  Similarities between the groups should be noted, highlighted anddiscussed.

  • Were there there great changes in Lincoln between 1860 and 1865?
  • What events happened during those years (1860-1865) - event should be posted on the timeline
  • Round Robin Table Discussion: "Do you think that the changes in Lincoln are related to these events? If so why? 

Step 4

Give each group the images found on Pages 6 & 7 (without the captions). Task the groups with putting the pictures in chronological order on the 1860 to 1865 timeline. The class should come to a group concensus.

 Step 5

Reveal the events in the five pictures represent and  assign a research group to each event.  


Students will continue to practice the following skills:

  • document analysis
  • picture analysis
  • chronology
  • team building/cooperation
  • discussion/public speaking
  • reference and research
  • technology integration
  • word processing


In cooperative groups of 3-4, students will create a PBWorks information page (5W's & H) from a teacher-created template on the following events:

  1.  Lincoln's first campaign for president
  2. Antietam
  3. the Emancipation Proclamation
  4. the second presidental campaign
  5. Second Inaugural Address

Make amendments to the chronology on the basis of the groups' findings

Closure and Reflection

[The closure of a lesson should directly tie the new material, student practice, instructional objectives, and assessment together. It should also connect this lesson to the previous lesson and link to the next lesson(s). In this is space you can also include your notes about how the lesson went. You should indicate what worked well, what was problematic, ideas for modifying the lesson for future use, and how this particular lesson ties in with others in the same curricular unit.]