Lesson Plans Washington, Martha


Washington, Martha
Hear ye! Hear ye! The Town Meeting is Called to Order!
One of the characteristics of a democracy is that the people participate in governing themselves.  In the United States, an important forum for discussion and debate about matters important to the common good is the town meeting, which is still a part of local government in New England.  The very first town meeting in the American colonies was held in Faneuil Hall in Boston, in 1743, when Martha Washington—who lived in Virginia—was 12 years old.
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Law, Politics and Govt

Washington, Martha
Fahrenheit and Celsius: What's the Difference?
The 18th century, during which Martha Washington lived most of her life, was a time of great scientific inquiry, invention, and discovery.  Science was becoming the best way of understanding the universe, and lots of people were busy trying to do just that.   Among the many close observers of nature (which is another way to say “scientist”) were Gabriel Fahrenheit in Germany and Anders Celsius in Sweden.  Together, they gave us the answers to the question: “So, what’s the temperature going to be today?”
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Washington, Martha
Ah! Those Horse and Buggy Days!
Most people in the Washington’s time never traveled more than five miles from the place where they were born—partly because the roads were terrible (or non-existent!), the weather was unpredictable, and overnight accommodations were scarce, far between, and often dirty.  Nevertheless, both George and Martha Washington traveled extensively, he in his days as a surveyor in the “west,” (Pennsylvania and Ohio), as a General, and as President, and she in her efforts to be with him.
Skill: Elementary School     Category: First Ladies' Lives

Washington, Martha
Captain James Cook: Extraordinary Explorer
During Martha Washington's lifetime, a number of voyages of discovery were undertaken, including the three major voyages of Captain James Cook, a British explorer.  These voyages took place from 1768 to 1779, twelve years during which the French and Indian War took place, the meetings of the Continental Congress were held, and the war of American independence was fought and won. Despite the momentous events at home, it is likely that both Martha and George Washington followed the discoveries of Captain Cook, perhaps in the same way that we follow the discoveries of astronauts today.
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Washington, Martha
Colonial America: The Original 13
The first colony in what would become the United States of America was founded at Jamestown, in 1607, 124 years before the birth of Martha Washington.  Over the next few years, 12 other colonies were founded, which, after the Revolutionary War, became the first 13 states in the new nation.
Skill: Middle School     Category: Law, Politics and Govt

Washington, Martha
"Boys in a circle..." -- The History of the Encyclopedia
The phrase "boys in a circle" in this lesson refers to a common way of teaching and learning in ancient times.  Boys (because girls were not usually formally educated at all, sat in a circle and listened to the teacher. For the most part, books held by private owners in the colonies in the 18th century were very scarce, and the idea of a general reference work such as an encyclopedia was unheard of until the second half of the century.  Indeed, the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica wasn’t published until 1771, when Martha Washington was 40 years old.
Skill: Middle School     Category: Education, Arts, Letters and Ideas

Washington, Martha
Martha Goes To War: Women in Wartime
During the winter and spring of 1777-1778, Martha Washington lived with her husband at Valley Forge, and set an example for all officers’ wives by mending soldiers’ clothes, knitting wool socks for them, managing the household of her husband, and in many ways, provided comfort and good cheer to a dismal situation.
Skill: Middle School     Category: First Ladies' Lives

Washington, Martha
Looking for the Real First Families of Virginia
When people talk about “first families” of any community, state, or nation, they usually are referring to wealthy families of long standing who exercise considerable power and authority simply by existing.  And such families are, in America, almost always white.  In this lesson, we are going to look at the real first families of the colony of Virginia—the native Americans, or Indians, that greeted the white folks when they arrived—a bit late!
Skill: Middle School     Category: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

Washington, Martha
The Science and Technology of Plantation Life
Martha Dandridge (Washington) was born on the Chestnut Grove Plantation in New Kent County, Virginia, near Williamsburg.  In the 18th century, plantation life was always busy, because the plantation was, in effect, almost a self-sufficient community and nearly everything necessary to life had to be produced or processed or manufactured or cared for right on the plantation.  18th century science and technology were just beginning to create new ideas and new objects that would make life a bit easier, but for Martha and her family, living was always a great deal of work.
Skill: High School/College     Category: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Washington, Martha
"Lady Washington:" Inventing the First Lady's Role
When George Washington was elected the first President of the United States, no one quite knew how to address him, and no one had given a thought as to how to address his wife.  Some called her “Lady Washington;” others called her “Mrs. President.”  A greater problem, however, was how to define the role of the President’s wife in a democratic republic. This form of government had never existed before, and there were no precedents.
Skill: High School/College     Category: First Ladies' Lives

Washington, Martha
The Sport of Kings: Horse Racing in America
There is a story, which might even be true, that as a girl, Martha Dandridge once rode her horse right into her uncle’s house and up the staircase.  When the family expressed shocked disapproval, her uncle said, “Oh, but what a great horsewoman she is!”  While this story is probably just a legend, it does symbolize the great affection and regard that most 18th century colonists had for horses.  Part of that regard was demonstrated by the fact that horse racing was perhaps the most popular sport in the colonies.
Skill: High School/College     Category: Sports and Popular Culture

Washington, Martha
Slavery in the Beginning: Creating A Virtual Museum
Both Martha and George Washington were slave owners, a fact that did not particularly disturb either one of them, although it is said that George wanted to free his slaves upon his death, and could not because they actually belonged to Martha.  Slavery in the south in the colonial period was perceived as a necessary and normal part of plantation life.  Not everyone owned slaves, and some owners treated their slaves better than others, but the fact of slavery was not questioned much at the time.
Skill: High School/College     Category: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

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