Gettysburg Address Activities & Games

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

The words of the ~'Gettysburg Address~' have long been memorialized in American history and culture. Use these activities and games to help students understand this speech and its historical importance.

The Immortal Words of Lincoln

When most Americans hear the phrase, ''Four score and seven years ago...'' they probably think of a bearded President Abraham Lincoln addressing a crowd during the Civil War. Not only did the words that President Lincoln spoke in 1863 honor the sacrifices of soldiers and comfort a nation at war, but they also became an enduring testament to the pursuit of human equality. When students study the ''Gettysburg Address'', they can identify and explore the core principles that shaped the political and cultural landscapes of the United States as a country.

Let's look at some activities and games that can help students understand the content of the ''Gettysburg Address'', its connection to the founding principles of the United States, and its impact on future historical events.

''Gettysburg Address'' Assemblages

Materials

  • Copies of the ''Gettysburg Address'' (one per student)
  • Highlighters (one per student)
  • Sets of paper strips with the sentences from the ''Gettysburg Address''

Teacher Directions

  1. Prior to the activity, create and copy sets of sentence strips that have the lines from the ''Gettysburg Address'' keyboarded or written on them.
  2. Give students copies of the ''Gettysburg Address'' and the highlighters. Then read the speech out loud.
  3. Have students highlight words/phrases in the speech that they feel are important. Discuss the highlighted words/phrases students selected and why they selected them.
  4. Help students summarize the key points of the speech and understand the purpose of President Lincoln's words.
  5. Divide the class into small groups and provide each group with a set of the sentence strips.
  6. When you say ''go'', have students assemble the sentence strips in the order that they appear in the ''Gettysburg Address'' without looking at a copy of the speech.
  7. The first team to correctly put the strips in order wins.

Discussion Questions

  • What do you think is the most important part of the ''Gettysburg Address''? Why?
  • How does the ''Gettysburg Address'' reflect the principles and foundations of the United States?

''Gettysburg Address'' Rap or Song

Materials

  • Audio recording of the ''Gettysburg Address''

Teacher Directions

  1. Have students listen to an audio recording of the ''Gettysburg Address'' and discuss the key ideas from the speech. Discuss how Americans received Lincoln's speech during the Civil War.
  2. Divide the class into small groups.
  3. Have each group create a song about the ''Gettysburg Address.'' Encourage them to think about how they can creatively summarize its content and effect on America while capturing the emotion of the speech.
  4. When the groups have finished, have them share their songs with the class.

Discussion Questions

  • What was the most difficult part about writing your song?
  • How did President Lincoln's words inspire Americans?

Primary Source Posters

Materials

  • Copies of the ''Gettysburg Address''
  • Copies of the ''Declaration of Independence''
  • Copies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s ''I Have a Dream'' speech
  • Poster board or large sheets of paper
  • Color markers

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