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Interactive Mount Vernon Tour & Bibliography Lesson

Written by Beth Sandahl
September 11, 2010

This lesson incorporates

  • PowerPoint and/or Promethean ActivInspire software for the presentation
  • Media images from Google and/or your own experiences
  • Interactive classroom voting devices and/or individual whiteboards with markers
  • Paper, pencils, watercolors, fun, and creativity!

Goal of My Lesson

The goal of this lesson is to bring Mount Vernon to my classroom and present it in a fashion that makes history interesting, relevant and fluid to my students. I wanted to create a presentation where my students could choose their next destination and then have a guide on the side to explain, add interesting tidbits, and lead them through the interesting facets of George and Martha Washington’s world.

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How I Got Started

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Initially using my own pictures, scanned photos, and Google images, I created a “flipchart,” which was created like any Jeopardy PowerPoint presentation. Each orange number icon is a link to another area of the farm/flipchart. If you click on the house, it leads you to a variety of additional icons that point to various rooms throughout the mansion. This page also has a link to a virtual tour which will give the viewer 360 video views of the house. It includes the third story which is not included on the actual “I’m at Mount Vernon” tour.

What I Do With It

During the first week, after I’ve introduced George Washington and spent library time discussing his life and reading biographical texts, the class starts digging through the Mount Vernon flipchart interactively using my Activeboard. Every day, the kids choose where they want to go and I act like their tour guide, explaining what life would have been like working in the kitchen; being Nellie, George Washington’s granddaughter; or detailing the life of Nelson, George Washington’s horse, who carried him through the revolutionary war, etc. They ask questions; we look up stuff together and email people if we can’t discover the answers for ourselves. Throughout the flipchart, pop-up questions ask for immediate Activote feedback.

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Collaboratively, the class has a brain “Showoff” session. I ask for George Washington Factoids, and the kids keep giving them to me until I have 20 (The number of kids in my class). I assign a fact to each child, and they illustrate a picture to represent their piece of information. We then sort the factoids chronologically, and I make a biography of George Washington’s life from his childhood until his death on the biography bulletin board.Image originally uploaded on 2010-09-11 13:33

In Conclusion

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I talked to Alan, the illustrator of this picture, when he was in the fifth grade, and he shared that it was at night because George Washington was sneaky. This confused me, so he elaborated: ”George Washington was sneaky, like when he went across the river (Delaware) on Christmas morning.” He then said, ”George Washington was out front because he always rode in the front with his troops and had all those horses shot out from under him.“

George Washington didn’t go across the Delaware during the French and Indian War, but I am still amazed at Alan’s memory four years later. Primary students usually recollect and can describe orally a lot more information than their writing skills let them express. Utilizing art and oral discussion allows them to really tap into their knowledge and challenge themselves. They discover that learning can be a journey, and that digging deeper into the next level is a lot of fun.

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This year I will take this lesson one step further by scanning the pictures and creating a Lulu book for each child to take home at Open House.

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