First Lady's "Firsts"

First Lady's "Firsts"
Letitia Tyler: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: 1-2 class periods

Required Documents
Research Questions for First Ladies "Fir


John Tyler took over the Presidency of the United States when William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia a month into his first term. He was the first Vice President to ascend to the higher office via the death of his predecessor. Unfortunately and ironically, his wife Letitia Tyler also was the first “first lady” to pass away while her husband was president. She died of complications from a second stroke in 1842. Although this is tragic, it is one of the “first” events or accomplishments of the group of presidential spouses known as the “First Ladies.” This lesson will look at some of the other first lady’s “firsts.”


The students will use a search engine such as Bing, Yahoo, or Google to find facts about first ladies of the United States; will create five questions about United States First Ladies; and will create a brief visual multimedia presentation using a presentation program such as Microsoft PowerPoint that contains the facts they’ve discovered regarding the first ladies of the United States.

Materials Required:

Computers with internet access or computer lab; multimedia projector and screen or interactive board; a multimedia presentation program such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote. 


1. The teacher will begin by having the students take the “First Lady Firsts online quiz” located at the URL listed first below. This can be done individually or as a whole class activity on an interactive board if available. It would be ideal as a whole class activity because the teacher can reinforce test taking skills and using clues in the questions to help find the answers.

2. When the online quiz is done the teacher will split the students into pairs or small groups for the next activity. The students will search the internet for other “First Lady First’s.” Each group will find five other “firsts” by first ladies. They will be given a list of 26 research questions in order to guide their search. These research questions are included with this lesson plan. They may not use the ones from the online quiz.

3. Once the students have found their information they will create a multimedia project using the information they have found. This should be done using presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote. The presentation can be strictly informational or could be set up in a quiz format like the online quiz they took earlier. The teacher can set up a rubric to assess this project. This can be done easily and free at The URL is listed below under sources and resources. One of the options is for a multimedia project. This way each teacher can set the rubric up to assess whatever elements they deem necessary for the project such as flying text, transitions, background, sound, images etc. If either the students or teacher is not familiar or confident using PowerPoint there is an online tutorial listed as the last URL in the sources and resources section of this lesson plan. 

Extending the Lesson:

This could be extended by applying the technology components to any research topic. For example students could make a multimedia presentation about other historical figures or events. The lesson could be further extended by studying the first ladies in a more comprehensive way and conducting more thorough research on individuals such as Dolley Madison, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, or Michelle Obama.  

Sources & Resources:


First Ladies "Firsts"

First Ladies Library Biography of Letitia Tyler

First Ladies Trivia and Fascinating Facts


PowerPoint 2007


This lesson was developed by Robert McClelland, Cleveland Metropolitan School District.