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Vermilion Parish Schools

Activity 6: Famous Americans and Their Contributions (GLEs: 1, 27, 48)

Materials List: books about famous Americans, poster paper, Internet access (optional)

Introduce the term famous.  Have students name someone they think is famous and why they are famous.  Tell students that there are famous Americans that made a significant impact to their country.  Engage students in a brainstorming (view literacy strategy descriptions) activity naming individuals who would be considered famous Americans.  Read nonfiction biographies of significant individuals identified on the list (e.g., George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr.). Recognize the famous Americans for their defense of individual civil rights and the ways in which they served the country. As part of the discussion, have the students locate on maps or globes the general areas mentioned in the biographies of the individuals studied.  Construct a large comparative chart or timeline illustrating the following: 

Famous Americans

When did they live?

What was their civic contribution?

Thomas Jefferson


Wrote the Declaration of Independence

Served as U.S. President

Abraham Lincoln


Wrote the Emancipation Proclamation

Served as U.S. President

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Gave the “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963

Won a Nobel Peace Prize

Civil Rights Leader

The teacher should add other names of famous Americans to the list above.

Talk about national holidays associated with these people and why the country honors some of them with holidays.  Discuss with students why this holiday is significant to the country. 

Have students choose one famous American from the chart above and create a poster about their contributions to the country. Students may need to do further research. The Internet can be used to find information and pictures for posters.

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