Mary Todd Lincoln Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to teach your students about Mary Todd Lincoln. Students will read a text lesson, examining her life, role as a First Lady, and later mental illness. Finish with an activity and quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • retell the key events in Mary Todd Lincoln's life
  • analyze important events in Mary Todd Lincoln's life


45 minutes plus time for activity


  • Copies of the lesson Mary Todd Lincoln: Facts, Biography & Quotes, one for each student
  • Timeline templates, one for each partner pair
  • Access to technology
  • Cubes copied onto tag board or cardboard, one for each student
  • Scissors
  • Markers

Key Vocabulary

  • Mary Todd Lincoln
  • Stephen A. Douglas
  • John Wilkes Booth
  • Elizabeth Keckley
  • Lincoln Tomb

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1

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

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2

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.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3

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).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

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

Warm Up

  • Before the lesson, review concepts of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, including his assassination.


  • Distribute copies of the lesson Mary Todd Lincoln: Facts, Biography & Quotes.
  • Divide students into partner pairs and have them read the lesson.
  • Give each partner group a timeline and ask them to record key events of Mary Todd Lincoln's life.
  • When students are finished, have partners make foursomes and compare notes, coming up with one timeline together.
  • Now make groups of eight and have them decide on one timeline.
  • Give each group a piece of chart paper and have them transfer their timeline. Share as a class and discuss key events and why students chose them, having them defend their thinking.
  • Have students take the quiz in partner pairs and grade together. Reteach as necessary.

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