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From Log House to U.S. President

Several U.S. presidents were born in or lived in log homes, including Abraham Lincoln. Make a replica of one or their homes to make history come alive.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Students research information about the homes where U.S. presidents were born and lived. Choose one president whose heritage included a log home. Find out about its size and shape before constructing a replica.
    2. Use an armature on which to build the log home, such as a small milk carton. Roll out enough Crayola Model Magic® logs to cover the outside of your structure. Make sure they are all the right length to fit.
    3. Press logs on the sides of the carton, alternating them with thin layers of mortar. Mortar is used in between logs to hold them together and fill in any cracks. White Model Magic looks like mortar.
    4. Add a front door and windows to the building. Just roll out and cut squares or rectangles of compound. Press them in place.
    5. For the roof, add shingles, such as these that look like weathered wood. Flatten Model Magic and cut it into small squares. Overlap the shingles until the roof is covered.
    6. Lincoln’s home had a fireplace or squirrel-tail oven attached to one end. The chimney was made of bricks. The oven stone was covered with logs on the outside. This was used for cooking. Build the oven with logs and mortar on the bottom and bricks and mortar on the top. Make small bricks by rolling and cutting squares. Attach bricks with mortar to the side of the house.
    7. Add some authentic scenery, such as a fence around the house, a tall tree to play in, or a field of wheat. Model Magic air-dries to the touch overnight and is completely dry in about 3 days.
    8. Students share information about the log home they built, and its famous occupant, with classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Identify and describe ways family, groups, and community influence the individual's daily life and personal choices.

    SS: Explore factors that contribute to one's personal identity such as interests, capabilities, and perceptions.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Presidents by James David Barber; Time for Kids: Presidents of the United States by Editors of TIME for Kids; Smart About the Presidents by John Buller & Susan Shade; A Picture Book of John and Abigail Adams by David & Michael Adler; Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman; The Story of Thomas Jefferson by Patricia A. Pingry; The Story of George Washington by Patricia A. Pingry; The Story of Ronald Reagan by Ben Mahan; Our Country's Presidents: All You Need to Know About the Presidents, From George Washington to Barack Obama by Ann Bausum

    Do builders create log homes today? Students research the question, as well as investigating the process of building a log cabin long ago and building a log cabin-style home today. Compare and contrast the two processes. Students create a chart of each process and write a summary of their findings.

    Working in small groups, students investigate the history of The White House. When was it built? Who burned it down and why? When was it re-built? What presidents have lived in it and what improvements did each make? Were there any unusual ways that this structure or its rooms used? Prepare an electronic presentation to share with classmates of findings.

    The First Ladies also influenced the history of The White House. Students select a First Lady and how she worked towards improving The White House.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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