Main Street, U.S.A.

Main Street, U.S.A.
Mary Lincoln: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: One week


Mary Todd Lincoln spent most of her life in two small towns which are now large cities: Lexington, Kentucky and Springfield, Illinois.  During her lifetime, small towns were commonplace, as was the economy that thrived in small towns.


Students will develop a business proposal for opening a business in a small town during this time period.

Materials Required:

Computer Internet access Word processor (or paper and writing utensil) Research tools (books, videos, photos, and magazines) Art supplies or art program.  Decide what art materials are necessary based upon the ability level of your class. For evaluation: PowerPoint for presentation or web site and authoring tool to post an electronic portfolio


  1. Introduce the lesson explaining to students that they have the opportunity to be business owners.  Divide the class into teams.  
  2. Each team should perform research on the types of good or services offered in small towns of the United States during Lincoln’s time.  
  3. Encourage students to develop a business strategy, complete with product prices, quantities, advertising, etc.   
  4. Evaluate student performance by either having students create a business portfolio on the computer, or by having students do a presentation to the class.

Extending the Lesson:

  • Have students create a blue print to provide a visual of the business. 
  • Student could also design a starting budget and hiring plan.
  • Set-up an actual small town in the gym to display student work and allow staff and other school members to view it.

Sources & Resources:

This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University.