The Era of Thomas Jefferson

Grade Levels: 3 - 5


Students explore an online resource to learn about Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States.


  • Students will learn about 19th-century lifestyles.
  • Students will learn about the contributions of a U.S. president.


  • Books about Thomas Jefferson and his home, Monticello
  • A copy of a KWL Chart for each student


  1. Before you begin the lesson, preview the homepage of the website Monticello: The Home of Thomas Jefferson.

  2. Have students form pairs.

  3. Distribute copies of the KWL Chart to each student.

  4. Have each student complete the first section on their worksheet, "What You Know About Thomas Jefferson," and then discuss their ideas with their partner.

  5. Discuss with the class some of these ideas and help students recall others from the text by asking questions such as: "What role did Thomas Jefferson play in the development of the Declaration of Independence?" (He wrote it.) "What were some of Jefferson's accomplishments as president?" (He made the Louisiana Purchase, thereby doubling the size of the United States; and he authorized the Lewis and Clark Expedition.) "Where was Jefferson when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was held?" (He was in France.) Draw into the discussion any other information students may have about Jefferson and his times. Talk about Jefferson's home, Monticello, and ask, "What might a day in the life of Mr. Jefferson at Monticello have been like?"

  6. Have students think about a particular time of day and what Jefferson might have done at that time. Have students complete the section "What You Want to Know" on their worksheets.

  7. Go to Monticello: The Home of Thomas Jefferson, and navigate to the section with information on the daily life of Jefferson during his retirement at Monticello.

  8. Have each pair of students choose a time of day, and then have them find out about that time of the day. (You can also assign, or let students choose, different time periods after viewing the list.) Allow students time to look through the books you brought in. Have them complete the third section on their worksheet, "What You Learned from Your Reading."

  9. Have each pair of students tell the class what they learned.


  • Have students visit The Letters of Thomas Jefferson website. Tell them to click on the directions to alphabetize the letters, then scroll through them and choose several of Jefferson's letters to read.
  • Children may want to read all of the letters Jefferson wrote to one person, such as Abigail Adams.
  • As they read, have them think about how they would have replied if they had received Jefferson's letter.
  • Print several of the letters, then have students write a response to the letters.

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