Homeschool Unit Study: George Washington, U.S. 1st President
George Washington, the father of our country, is arguably the most important figure of American history. From taking the reins and leading the continental army during the American Revolution, to forging and creating the mold for the American Presidency, many of the views and values of today’s America can be attributed to George Washington. And, as with many great heroes, several myths and stories were woven regarding President’s Washington’s life and morals. Today, we will go over some interesting facts about President Washington in our series of presidential unit studies.
George Washington Fast Facts
|Presidential Order||1st President|
|Born||February 22nd, 1732|
|Death||December 14th, 1799|
|State of Birth||Virginia|
|Name of Spouse||Martha Washington|
|Served as President||1789-1797|
|Age When Elected to Office||57|
|Vice Presidents||John Adams|
Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
George Washington Timeline
1732Born in Virginia to Mary Ball Washington and Augustine Washington.
1743Washington’s father dies, and his properties are left to the children of his first marriage. Because of his passing, George Washington’s formal education was cut short.
1749Appointed county surveyor for the newly formed frontier county of Culpeper
- Inherited Mount Vernon with the death of his half-brother
- Sent to the Ohio Valley to deliver a message to the French demanding they leave. He and his 150 soldiers were forced to retreat and surrender, sparking the French and Indian war.
1759Married Martha Dandridge Custis, a young widow who inherited great wealth after the death of her first husband.
1775Appointed Commander of the Continental Army: a position he held throughout the American Revolution.
1783Resigned his commission and gave his power back to the people, for which he was deemed an international hero.
1787The people unanimously elect George Washington to be the first President, and reluctantly, he accepts.
1793Began second term as President
1797Refused a third term, setting the precedent of a 2-term maximum that most following Presidents followed.
1799Passed away from a throat infection called epiglottitis.
Fun Facts About President George Washington
His teeth were made out of wood! OK, that’s not true. His teeth were made of hippopotamus and elephant ivory, held together with gold springs. Pretty cool, eh (for the 1700’s)!
At the time of his death, George Washington owned around 300 slaves. Later in his life, he’d become opposed to slavery and stated in his will that all of his slaves should be freed once his wife passed away. Martha, however, freed them in 1800, two years before her own death.
After the peace treaty was signed between Great Britain and the United States, Washington actually did not want to become President. He wanted to return home and continue his life as a farmer and a father. To his dismay, the public so strongly believed him the best fit to run the nation, he eventually gave in and accepted the Presidency.
The young George Washington did not actually cut down his father’s cherry tree. This popular myth was published in the fifth edition of the book “The Life of Washington” in 1806, by author Mason Locke Weems. The myth was fabricated to demonstrate to young readers that his public successes were due to private virtues, and to encourage children to follow President Washington’s example.
After the death of his father, George Washington was barred entry from Appleby Grammar School, where his half-brothers had all attended. Instead, he was largely self-taught at home, and by personal tutors in various disciplines and trade skills (that’s right, George Washington was homeschooled!).
Before George Washington became a founding father, he was a step-father. It is believed that due to his many illnesses, Washington never had children of his own, but when he married widow Martha Dandridge Custis, he raised her two children, and later her grandchildren, as his own.
Washington is the only president to have never occupied the White House. The construction of the White House ended after his death, making him in the only president in American history to not take residence or work within it.
His hair was not a wig! Contrary to popular belief, President Washington did not wear a wig; the piglet tail and curls were all his. His hair wasn’t actually white either, he powdered it so much that it looked white, but his hair was naturally red.
During his first term as president he added North Carolina in 1789, then Rhode Island in 1790, Vermont in 1791, and Kentucky in 1792 to the Union. Last, but not least, he added Tennessee to the Union in 1796 during his second presidential term.
Hands-On Activities For George Washington
To supplement your George Washington unit study, you may want to integrate activities that will get your homeschoolers interacting with their learning. Multisensory learning is one of the best ways to help students retain what they are learning. Below, you will find activity ideas, organized by grade level, that let your students get hands-on with their exploration of the life of this founding father and first president of the United States.
Elementary George Washington Activities
One of Washington’s favorite meals, when he lived at Mt. Vernon, is said to be hoecakes and honey. Gather the ingredients from this hoecakes recipe and see if you can whip up a batch that George would have enjoyed.
Write a new verse for “Yankee Doodle,” and highlight George Washington’s contribution to the country in it.
Middle School George Washington Activities
Read the book “When Washington Crossed the Delaware,” then write a short script based on one of the scenes in the book such as boarding the boats to cross the river or Washington’s speech to the troops.
Using the quick George Washington spelling words below, play a game of charades to see if siblings or other family members can guess which word you are trying to act out.
High School George Washington Activities
Practice narrative writing by creating a journal entry as if you were George Washington on the eve of the first ever election of the United States. What would he be thinking and feeling?
George Washington was a land surveyor. Research what a land surveyor does. If you have a land survey of where you live, let your high schooler explore it and even see if they can find the boundaries. Have your student brainstorm situations where a land survey might come in handy.
Quick George Washington Spelling Words