Lincoln's Assassination Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson will help your students understand the circumstances surrounding President Lincoln's assassination. Students will watch a video lesson, participate in group activities, and prove their knowledge with a short quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe John Wilkes Booth and his motivations for killing Lincoln
  • summarize the conspiracy to kidnap/kill Lincoln and other government officials
  • explain the consequences of Lincoln's assassination


This lesson will take 45-90 minutes.

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


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

Materials Needed

  • Photos of Ford's Theater


  • abolitionist
  • assassination
  • conspirators
  • pardoned
  • plot
  • secession


Activate prior knowledge by asking students what they know about Abraham Lincoln. Write their responses on the board.

Watch the video lesson The Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln: Facts, Failed Plots & Motivation as a class. Pause at 0:41.

Have students turn and talk with a partner about why Lincoln's life was at risk and how you would respond to these kinds of threats if you were president. Provide partners an opportunity to share their answers with the class.

Continue watching the video. Pause at 2:26.

Divide students into small groups. Provide each group with a sheet of chart paper. Have each group create a character map of John Wilkes Booth, citing text evidence to support their claims. Have groups share their work with the class.

Continue watching the video. Pause at 3:57.

5-minute quick write: Have students fold a paper in half. On the top half, they will write everything they learned about the initial plot to kidnap Lincoln. On the bottom half, they will write everything they know about the assassination plot. Give students an opportunity to share and add to their answers.

Create a list with students of conspirators and their roles in the assassination plot.

Watch the remainder of the video.

Add the consequences that each of the conspirators faced to the list. Discuss why some of the conspirators were hanged even though they were not involved in any physical acts of violence.

Show students pictures of Ford's Theatre and the boarding house where Lincoln died.

Use the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.

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