Thomas Edison Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Abby Federico

Abby has taught elementary special education and has her master's degree in this area.

This lesson will teach you about the life of Thomas Edison, a famous American inventor. It will go over his childhood, early careers, and the inventions that made him famous. One of his inventions is something you probably use every day!

Who Was Thomas Edison?

Have you watched TV, charged a phone, or even turned on a lamp? Does your home or school have lights to help you see? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you have Thomas Edison to thank!

Thomas Edison was an American inventor born in Ohio in 1847. He passed away in 1931, at the age of 84. He was famous for his many inventions, including:

  • The electric light bulb
  • The phonograph (a machine for recording sound)
  • The telegraph (a machine that can send messages long distances)
  • An electric car battery
  • The Kinetograph (a camera to make an early version of movies)

Early Life

Thomas was the youngest of seven children. When he was a child, Thomas had many ear infections and scarlet fever, which caused hearing loss in both ears. This would eventually lead him to become almost deaf as an adult.

Thomas only attended school for a total of 12 weeks! He was very hyper and distracted, so his teachers told his mother he was 'difficult.' His mother pulled him from school and taught him at home.

Early Careers

Thomas got his first job at the age of 12 selling newspapers to passengers on trains. Eventually he started publishing his very own newspaper that he sold to the riders. He then learned how to operate a telegraph, and at age 15 became a telegraph operator. When he was 19 he started working for a newspaper, and used his free time to read and experiment. While working, Thomas continued to focus on inventions, although none of them became popular...yet.

Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison


Thomas next moved to New York, and created his first popular invention. He made a machine that improved stock tickers, which helped people who worked in the stock market. Thomas was paid very well for this invention, and decided to start inventing full-time. Thomas made his own manufacturing facility and laboratory, and even employed others to work for him.

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