President Lincoln’s Cottage offers students of all ages, from Pre-K through Grade 12 as well as college and graduate students, a remarkable window into Lincoln’s life. Unique, multimedia guided tours and hands-on, minds-on exercises bring to life Lincoln’s personality, wartime decision making, emancipation policy, and relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
As a young man, Abraham Lincoln began forming his ideas on issues such as justice and freedom. As he grew, so too did his ideas. While living at the Cottage, President Lincoln developed his ideas on the Civil War and emancipation and turned these ideas into action. In Lincoln’s Hat, students discover the ideas that President Lincoln developed from notes he stored inside his signature stovepipe hat. Lincoln’s unique note-taking practice serves as a model to students as they develop their own creative ideas, articulate their values, and practice self-awareness and problem-solving skills. Following a reading of the book Abe Lincoln’s Hat (K–1st grade) or What Do You Do With an Idea? (2nd–3rd grade), a hands-on exercise provides students with a special place to keep their own powerful ideas.
During the Civil War, President Lincoln commuted daily from the Cottage through the heart of Civil War Washington to the White House. Along the way, he encountered soldiers heading for the front lines; self-emancipated men, women, and children living in contraband camps; wounded soldiers; and Washington residents like Walt Whitman. These diverse people influenced Lincoln and his ideas on the Civil War and emancipation and taught him lessons that are still relevant to today’s students. Lincoln’s desire to exchange ideas with those around him in order to gain new perspectives and better understand important issues serves as a model to young minds as they develop interpersonal awareness and learn to respect each other’s ideas. In I See the President, students represent the perspectives of the people President Lincoln interacted with on his daily commute, analyze their personal stories, and write a fable that teaches their classmates an important lesson.
Abraham Lincoln’s presidency was marked by the development of big ideas and nation-changing actions. A key element of Lincoln’s collaborative process was to consult the ideas of those around him while leading the country through turmoil toward a new birth of freedom. Lincoln’s approach provides a model for students to develop their own decision-making skills as they strive to understand the value of conflicting ideas, building support to achieve positive change in modern society, and their own responsibility and power within their communities. In Lincoln’s Toughest Decisions: Debating Emancipation—an award-winning program that exposes students to the different perspectives of President Lincoln’s adversaries, allies, and friends— students use touch-screen tablets to explore historical documents and recreate the heated discussions that President Lincoln had over emancipation.
I know you made a powerful connection because my students kept asking questions about Honest Abe the rest of the school day.
I will use what I learned at President Lincoln’s Cottage to be a better person.
I appreciated that our guide listened carefully to what the kids were saying and took opportunities for teachable moments about history, Lincoln, racism, and more.