As a young man, Abraham Lincoln began forming his ideas on issues such as justice and freedom. As he grew, so too did his ideas. While living at his Cottage, President Lincoln thought through his ideas on the Civil War and emancipation, and turned these ideas into action. Lincoln's unique note-taking practice serves as a model to students as they develop their own creative ideas and problem solving skills on everyday decisions and complex issues. In Lincoln's Hat, students will discover President Lincoln's unique habit of storing his ideas inside his
signature stovepipe hat, and a hands-on activity provides students with a special place to keep their own ideas.
-Students will create a log cabin representing where Lincoln was born constructed with his “Bright Ideas”.


(Civic Values)
1.2 Students identify and describe, the symbols, icons, songs and traditions of the United States that exemplify cherished ideals and provide continuity and a sense of community across time.
4) Describe the meaning of words associated with civic values such as fairness, responsibility and rules.  

1.LD-D.1. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussion, including raising one’s hand, waiting one’s turn, speaking one at a time, and listening politely to the ideas of others.
1.LD-Q.2. Listen attentively by facing the speaker.
1.LD-Q.4. Give, restate, and follow oral directions that involve two unrelated sequences of action.
1.LD-O.5. Retell stories using standard grammar rules, sequencing story events by answering who, what, where, when, how, and why questions.
1.IT-E.2. Respond appropriately to questions based on facts in text heard or read.
1.LT-S.8. Identify words that the author selects in a literary selection to create a graphic visual experience.
1.R.1. Generate questions and gather information from several sources in the classroom, school, or public library.
1.EL.2. Write in complete sentences.


Brenner, Martha. (1994). Abe Lincoln's Hat. New York, New York: Random House Books
As a young lawyer, Abe Lincoln found that his stovepipe hat came in handy for more than just covering his head. It also served as a good place to keep important papers. Brenner weaves this and other anecdotes about our 16th president into this easy-to-read selection.

Winters, Kay. (2006). Abe Lincoln: The boy who loved books.  New York, New York: Aladdin Publisher

Primary Source
President Lincoln’s Cottage: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 Digital ID: (original digital file) highsm 10349 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.10349 Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-highsm-10349 (original digital file)

Field Trip
President Lincoln's Cottage, please contact Callie Hawkins, Curator of Education, at 202-829-0436 x 31223 or lincoln_ed@nthp.org.

Warm Up

Brainstorming is a method of shared problem solving in which all members of a group spontaneously contribute ideas.  Brainstorming is a valuable skill that helps students develop ideas, value others’ ideas, and hone their own ability to problem solve. While brainstorming is a skill that needs to be taught to young students, this is easily achieved by taking advantage of everyday opportunities that arise in the classroom.  “What’s the Bright Idea?” is a brainstorming exercise that can be repeated throughout the year on topics across the curriculum. Have students brainstorm - a sudden clever plan or idea. Ask students to brainstorm. Start with simple questions to get their creative juices flowing followed by more complex topics. If it rains during recess, what indoor activities can we do? What might happen if there were no tests in schools? What does it take to be President of the United States? (Analyze). Have students raise their hands to share with the class some of their ideas.

New Material

What you’ll need
 Natural and colored craft sticks
 Craft glue
 Colored construction paper


1. Tell the students that we are going to read a story about Abraham Lincoln. Read the students the book,  The boy who loved books by Kay Winters (Verbal/Linguistic).

2. As a class, use the brainstorming activity from “What’s the Bright Idea?” to discuss Abraham
Lincoln’s early life on the frontier. 

3. Throughout the story, stop periodically and have the student turn & talk (Interpersonal) to discuss the following questions: What hardships did the family face? If Abraham did not get to attend school, what do you think he spent his days doing? Why were young Abraham Lincoln’s ideas important?  (Evaluation) Why do you think we often call Abraham Lincoln, “Honest Abe?” (Synthesize). 

4. Have students independently brainstorm some of the ideas that were important to young
Abe Lincoln.

6. Have students return to their seats. Give each student 9, natural colored
craft sticks.  With a marker have the students write a different idea on the far left and right
sides of each of the 9 sticks.  These “idea sticks” will become the walls for students’ log cabin!

7. Using construction paper and craft glue, have students attach their craft sticks (with the
words facing up), stacking one stick on top of the other until they have the basic shape of the
log cabin. 

8. Using 2 natural colored craft sticks, have students attach their craft sticks diagonally to the top of the cabin to make a roof.  Using 1 colored craft stick, which you  have cut into 1/4’s, have students attach these in a square on top of the log cabin to create  a window.

9. Out of construction paper, cut a door and chimney for each student to attach to their log cabin. 


After each student has created his or her own log cabin (Creating), have them share their ideas (and cabins) with the rest of the class! (Understanding)

Closure and Reflection

Time for reflection about his ideas on the Civil War and emancipation was an important
part of President Lincoln’s time at his Cottage!  Like brainstorming, time dedicated for
reflection helps students develop higher-level thinking strategies, strengthens their
problem solving skills, helps students recognize that their perceptions are important,
and helps young minds connect the past with the present.  While this activity is
specifically designed to reflect on your visit to President Lincoln’s Cottage, it can easily
be replicated for reflection on other topics.