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School of Education, Health and Human Behavior
School of Education

Creating a Lincoln Museum Display

NEH Landmarks of Lincoln

16 th President of the U.S.

Abraham Lincoln

Students will design a museum display by selecting relevant artifacts, researching their significance, designed placards, and arranging their display.

Overview / Materials / LOC Resources / Standards / Procedures / Evaluation / Rubric/ Handouts/ Extension

Overview Back to Navigation Bar


Students will:

· Differentiate between artifacts relevant to the life of Abraham Lincoln from those not associated with his life.

· Use keywords to search for background information about Lincoln and the artifacts

· Locate at least three different sources in which to obtain information

· Determine the accuracy and credentials of the sources that they obtain

· Compare details across the sources obtained

· Determine the most relevant information to include in relation to the audience for the display

· Create a museum display with at least 8 researched artifacts.

Recommended time frame

3 20 minute lessons, plus some homework time

Grade level

Intermediate (grades 3-5) unless adapted

Curriculum fit

Social Studies and language arts


Artifact collection boxes so that each group of approximately 4 students has an artifact box. In each box there should be @20 items that students can select or discard for the display. Possible items for the artifact collections include:

A stamped letter

A map of the state of . . .(IL, KY, TX, IN, etc)

6 pennies

means of transportation-horse, flatboat, train, airplane, automobile, blimp etc.

Surveying tools

Books with various copyright dates


American flags with varying numbers of stars

Bow tie


Photo of cat/nine tails

Donkey or elephant

*note-it is best if each box varies somewhat from the other collections boxes

Artifact collection worksheet

Rubric for evaluation

Paper for placard (colored tag board if available)

Markers to make placard

Research tools (computers, books or printouts)

If available props, tri-fold displays, cloth, etc. to make displays pretty

Ohio Learning Standards Back to Navigation Bar

Language Arts:

Reading Applications/Informational text.

*Students will compare details on a topic using

multiple sources.

Social Studies:

Social Studies Skills and Methods/Obtaining


*Identify the accuracy and credentials of a


*Locate information using a keyword search.

Social Studies Skills and Methods/Problem


*Consider possible options based on research

*Chose and implement a solution

Procedures Back to Navigation Bar

Teacher will begin by explaining the task to the students. I frequently use the opening clip from Mission Impossible "your job should you chose to accept it . . ." is to design a museum display for the primary students in this building. You will begin by sorting artifacts for display. You will research the artifacts and their relationship to Lincoln. You will build the display, and stand as docents as the younger students tour.

Day One:

· Teacher will divide the class into small groups of about 4 students

· Teacher will provide each group a display collection box and the artifact analysis sheet**a sample list of artifacts for the box has been included in the materials section. If locating objects is difficult, then photos of the objects can be obtained off the internet. The Library of Congress website ( has a number of photographs that might be helpful.

· Teacher will model with two artifacts not in boxes how the sorting will occur

"Here I have a straight edged razor. This would have been the type of razor used in the 1800s for shaving a man's whiskers. Since Abraham Lincoln lived during this time period, I might want to include this item. But I also know that Grace Bedell was a young girl who wrote to Lincoln and asked him to grow a beard for the election. He did grow a beard, and thus wouldn't have needed the razor as much after that. Let's see what the class thinks. Raise your hand if we should include the razor. Now raise your hand if you think we should leave the razor out. Next I see a map of
Texas. This is a new map, different from the time of Lincoln. Was Lincoln born in Texas? Why might we want a map of Texas? Now that we recall that Lincoln was shot in Texas, would we want to include this map? Let's vote."

· Students will allow the students time to sort the items in their box, while circulating the room to assist with problems that may arise. Teacher will make sure that the artifact analysis sheet is being completed.

· Teacher will gather the attention of the class once again, and will tell the class that at a museum, there are placards that give information about each artifact. Each student will research one or more artifact and create a placard for their museum display. On the artifact analysis sheet, there is a column to determine who will research each artifact. This column needs to be filled out today. The artifacts must be returned to their boxes and neatly stored. Teacher will give students a few minutes to take care of these details, then will dismiss class for the next subject. Teacher can grade the artifact analysis worksheets this evening, and return to students on day 2.

Day Two:

· Teacher will show an example of 2 good placards, and 2 poor placards. Teacher will explain strengths and weaknesses in the placards-ie. This placard gives a great deal of interesting information and is easy to read. This placard is written so small that museum guests might need a microscope to read it. This placard tells us how the artifact relates to Lincoln, but this placard only tells us where it was made.

· Teacher will have students research in books or on the internet for information regarding their artifacts. Teacher will give a check of approval along with a blank placard when the student's research is ready. If possible, instructional aides or Library/Media Center specialists or volunteers might be recruited to help with research. Completed placards should be collected. Teacher can grade placards this evening, but should not mark on the placards as they will be used in the displays tomorrow. Students should be given a warning to log off before the bell, and then should be dismissed to their next class.

Day Three:

· Teacher shall give students the rubric for their displays. The students will read through the rubric-depending on ability level either as a class or in their groups-and the teacher will offer an opportunity to ask any questions that may arrise.

· Students will use props and artifacts to create a display of their items on their desktops.

· Placards will be added to the displays if they are not already there so that they can be read without blocking artifacts.

· A digital photo of each display will be collected.

· If time allows, students can tour their classmates' displays before the younger class visits their "museum."

· When the younger class visits, the older students shall act as docents, answering questions and moving students through the displays. Teacher will circulate to assist as necessary, but will also want to complete rubrics before the displays are taken down.

· Student will be able to take their placards home since they have been graded. Artifacts must be returned to their box. Teacher may have students inventory and sign artifact boxes if there is a concern about the return of items. Props should be returned to where they were made available. Once the classroom is in order, the students can be dismissed to their next class.

Evaluation Back to Navigation Bar

There are three evaluations for this lesson. The first evaluation is the artifact analysis worksheet. This worksheet gives a teacher a closer look into the thinking process of each group as they separate the artifacts. A grade is given to the group for their artifact analysis worksheet. The next evaluation comes from the placards. Each student receives an individual grade for the placard(s) that they create. Finally, the museum display is given a grade. This is a group grade as well, although it can be adapted to allow for individuals who contributed strongly to be given merit over students who were not contributing to the project as successfully.

Extension Back to Navigation Bar

Students can be assigned to select and research more or fewer artifacts depending on their ability level. In lieu of computer research, students could search from a limited compilation of library books to research their artifacts. Advanced students could be required to add items to the display that they feel are relevant to study of Abraham Lincoln. Students could research job opportunities within a museum. Students could be assigned roles beyond general docent as other classes tour their museum displays. Students could journal about their experience. A follow up visit to a local museum could be scheduled.


Back to Navigation Bar

Museum Display Rubric

4 points possible

for each category


· Evidence of use of three or more references.

· Has reference source information, which shows the source to be reliable.

· Evidence that research was read, and details were compared along multiple sources.

· Research is carried over into placard design.

Score _____




· Keywords were chosen to connect research to display.

· Information is relevant to Lincoln and to display.

· Information gathered in placed near appropriate artifact.

· Information is appropriate to museum "audience" (not too technical, not copied directly but in elementary language)

Score ______



· Display has visible connection to Lincoln

· Artifacts are neatly identified

· All placards are easy to read

· Props are used

Score ______

Total _____/12

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