Lewis Latimer Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teach your students about Lewis Latimer with this lesson plan. Students will read a text lesson that gives an overview of the life of the inventor as well as some of his inventions. Discussion questions and hands-on activities help boost student understanding and keep engagement high.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • retell the life of Lewis Latimer
  • discuss Latimer's inventions
  • explain the impact of Latimer's inventions on our lives


1 hour


Key Vocabulary

  • Lewis Howard Latimer
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Hiram Maxim
  • Thomas Edison

Curriculum Standards


Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


  • Start the lesson by dividing students into small groups and having them brainstorm a list of famous American inventors. Give them two or three minutes, then share and discuss.
  • Students won't likely mention Latimer. Explain that often inventors are overlooked but still have a large impact on our current lives.
  • Distribute the lesson Lewis Latimer: Biography, Inventions & Facts and read the section 'Lewis Latimer' together.
  • Have groups discuss:
    • What jobs do engineers and draftsmen do?
    • What would your life be like without the electric light bulb?
    • What do you know about the invention of electric lighting?
  • Now read the sections 'Early Life' and 'After the Civil War.'
  • Ask:
    • How old was Latimer when he joined the US Navy?
    • What role does it seem Latimer played in his family's early life?
    • How did Latimer learn his craft?
    • How is his education and advancement in his field different than today?
  • Next read the section 'Major Projects' together.
  • Give each group one of the topics:
    • Alexander Graham Bell/telephone
    • Hiram Maxim/electrical lighting
    • Thomas Edison/light bulb
  • Instruct groups to work together to create a teaching poster that details what Latimer contributed to the project and how it impacts our lives today.
  • When students are finished, have them share their posters, asking questions of other students to 'teach' their concept.
  • Read the 'Lesson Summary' together and take the quiz to check comprehension of topic.

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