Gone are the days when rote memorization of names and dates ruled the history classroom. Now, students are asked to consider multiple perspectives, are challenged to hone their historical thinking skills and are provided with opportunities to get up close and personal with primary source documents using 21st-century technology.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon, home of our nation’s first president, offers classroom resources that help students learn about not only the life of George Washington, but also the 18th-century world he lived in and his legacies. Students can explore Washington’s estate using our Virtual Tour, step into Washington’s boots in our game “Be Washington,” explore primary sources from our collection and learn about the lives of the enslaved men, women and children who also called Mount Vernon home. You can find all these resources and more on our Online Learning webpage.
In addition to classroom resources, Mount Vernon also offers a slate of professional development programs for teachers through our George Washington Teacher Institute, including our well-known residential programs. In response to COVID-19, Mount Vernon’s education team sprang into action to offer digital professional development programs to teachers across the nation. To stay up to date on the latest program offerings, sign up for our monthly educator emails.
Students come face to face with four different challenges George Washington faced as commander in chief or president of the United States in this interactive game created for middle school and high school classrooms. During gameplay, students hear from Washington’s advisers, who are often at odds with each other, and must analyze the information they are hearing to help guide their ultimate decision.
The game has two modes, hosted or single-player, and can be played on web browsers or through the app for tablets. Mount Vernon offers a speed test to ensure computers and networks can support the game, as well as a guide for IT administrators outlining URLs that can be safely allowed on your school’s network so the game can work.
Slavery at Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon was home to not only George Washington and his family, but also to hundreds of enslaved men, women and children who lived under his control. Decades of research by Mount Vernon’s historians, archaeologists and curators has pieced together the stories of many of these individuals.
The introductory video to the exhibition, “Lives Bound Together: Slavery at Mount Vernon,” offers an overview of slavery and enslaved people at Mount Vernon. Numerous lesson plans for grades K-12 that explore slavery including the primary source based “Who Are We?” lesson for elementary classrooms that asks students to create a biography of an enslaved person using a census of enslaved workers and “Which Grace?” which asks middle and high school students to look at the documentary record and analyze evidence to determine how many women named Grace lived at Mount Vernon from 1750-1799.
Mount Vernon Virtual Tour
Visit George Washington’s home in vivid detail and access areas not typically open to the public. Students can direct their own exploration of the Mount Vernon estate to create a personal experience tailored to their own interests or research needs. A number of clickable points of interest allow students to dive deeper into the artwork, objects, architectural elements, buildings, archaeological sites, and plants through the use of videos, images, and text descriptions.
Our all new Mount Vernon Virtual Reality Tour takes the tour a step further by allowing students to step into the tour using virtual reality on Facebook Oculus and Google Cardboard compatible devices.
Teaching the Constitution
The U.S. Constitution contains many complicated ideas and concepts that can be hard for students to grasp. Our slate of resources leverage the strong imagery the video “A More Perfect Union: George Washington and the Making of the Constitution” to help connect the concepts that shaped our nation’s government in order to reach students in new ways. Lesson plans such as “Key Concepts of the Constitution” and the “Constitution as a Job Description” provide good access points for classroom learning that connect directly to learning standards. Students can go directly to our webpage on The U.S. Constitution to access quizzes on the vocabulary of the Constitution, the timeline of the Constitution, and more.
Zerah Jakub is the senior manager of education communication and outreach at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org