Lesson Plans Van Buren, Hannah


Van Buren, Hannah
"I will bear allegiance to the United States":Becoming a Citizen
Hannah Van Buren was the first president’s wife to be born a United States citizen. Both of her parents grew up in Kinderhook, New York and were of Dutch background. Kinderhook was a former Dutch settlement and Van Buren grew up speaking Dutch even though she was a US citizen. Although most of the previous first ladies were born in America they were born prior to the United States becoming a sovereign nation and became citizens when it did so. But during the early years as well as the later years of the United States many people came from foreign lands to live here and there needed to be a way for these immigrants to become citizens of their new nation. This process is called naturalization. The first naturalization law was passed in this country only two years after the Constitution became the official law of the land in 1790, and only one year before Vermont became the last state to ratify it. Even today many immigrants stand up and swear an Oath of Allegiance to their new country, the United States of America.
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Law, Politics and Govt

Van Buren, Hannah
Ouch That Hurts! Immunizations
Hannah Van Buren was fortunate among the 19th century First Ladies, in that she never had to go through the grief that comes with the death of a child.  Most families in the 18th and 19th centuries suffered the loss of at least one child, usually because of contagious diseases and infections such as measles, whooping cough, cholera, chicken pox, tetanus, etc. Even passing one’s first birthday was not a guarantee of life, as many children died before they were twelve. Mrs. Van Buren, did, however, die at an early age (35) of tuberculosis, also a contagious disease and one for which the mortality rate was very high.
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Van Buren, Hannah
Kinderhook: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
During the Jackson administration Martin Van Buren met Washington Irving in England while both were diplomatic appointees of President Jackson. The two became very close friends. When they eventually returned to New York they maintained a long and close friendship, writing letters and going on trips together. Among their favorites pastimes was to visit Dutch communities in New York and New Jersey. Among them was undoubtedly the town of Kinderhook, New York, the childhood hometown of both President Van Buren and his wife Hannah. A town similar to this was the setting of Irving’s most famous work “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Education, Arts, Letters and Ideas

Van Buren, Hannah
Hudson River Adventures
Both Hannah Van Buren and her husband, 8th President Martin Van Buren, grew up in the Hudson River Valley in a small town called Kinderhook which means “Children’s Corner” in Dutch, which was the original language of both Hannah and Martin. The Hudson River had to have been a major influence on the Van Burens as they grew up. Their parents were farmers and they most likely used the river to transport crops as well as to travel upon. The Hudson runs from its source, Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains to New York City where it empties into New York Bay. It has been one of the most important waterways in the United States since before our nation existed and still remains so today. The first European to explore the Hudson River was Henry Hudson in 1609. The river now bears his name.
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Van Buren, Hannah
Growing Up Bilingual
Both President Martin Van Buren and his wife Hannah grew up in Kinderhook, New York, which was originally a Dutch settlement. They both spoke Dutch fluently and in fact spoke it at home to one another. Mrs. Van Buren died 18 years prior to her husband becoming president so Dutch was not spoken with any significance in the White House, but had she lived it probably would have been. When immigrants came to America in the 18th and 19th centuries they generally settled in communities of other immigrants from their countries of origin. This is why most major cities still have ethnic neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Little Italy, Slavic Village, etc. Because the United States is a melting pot of so many diverse cultures and languages, many words, traditions and other influences have been assimilated into our American culture. In many instances families tried to hold on to the culture and language of their native lands. However, usually within a few generations many of these old world traits faded. But today with growing global economies, lightning fast forms of communication including email, chat, cell phones, Skype, etc., and the explosion of social media there are many benefits to speaking more than one language. During the first two centuries of our country’s history many were encouraged to speak only our American form of English, but here in our third century of existence those who speak more than one language have a distinct advantage over those who do not.
Skill: Middle School     Category: Education, Arts, Letters and Ideas

Van Buren, Hannah
Family Trees and How They Grow
Do any of you know what a genealogist is?  [Wait for answers.]  It’s someone who studies family trees.  What is a “family tree?” [Wait for answers, again.]  It is a way to picture the people in your family, only you use their names instead of photos.  Many people in America are interested in tracing their ancestors, because nearly all of us came from somewhere else once.  Although Hannah Van Buren was born in the United States, nearly all her ancestors came originally from The Netherlands. Today we are going to create a family tree for each of you [or for one of Hannah Van Buren’s children].  We’ll be able to start it, and you can complete it tonight after talking with your folks [or, you can finish it with the help of Hannah’s biography and her time line].
Skill: Middle School     Category: First Ladies' Lives

Van Buren, Hannah
Global Learning: The Netherlands
Both Martin Van Buren and his wife Hannah were descendants of Dutch settlers in the state of New York. In fact Martin Van Buren was the first president who spoke English as his second language, having grown up speaking Dutch in the village of Kinderhook, New York, a part of the state originally settled by the Dutch. The Dutch people come from a country called the Netherlands. Many people confuse the Netherlands with Holland. In reality North and South Holland are two of the twelve provinces of The Netherlands.
Skill: Middle School     Category: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Van Buren, Hannah
A Three-Ring Circus
In the first part of the 19th century, middle-class people began to have a little bit of free time, and as that happened, what we might call leisure time activities became more popular, and public entertainments also began to attract larger numbers of people.   An activity that grew and prospered during the nineteenth century was the circus.  While we don’t know for sure if Hannah Van Buren ever attended a circus, the odds are that she did…and because she had four sons, they probably did, too!
Skill: Middle School     Category: Sports and Popular Culture

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