Will Rogers

Will Rogers
Grace Coolidge: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required:


Though a man of few words, Calvin Coolidge was known for his Yankee wit.  Once at a dinner party a woman told him that a friend told her that she would not be able to get the President to say three words.  The woman took her friend's bet.  Upon hearing this, the President turned to his guest and said, “You lose.”  Perhaps it was this sense of humor that led the Coolidges to become good friends with humorist Will Rogers.  Or perhaps the friendship stayed strong because of Grace Coolidge’s noted charm and extroversion.


In this lesson, students will explore the concepts of  irony and humor.

Materials Required:

No materials other than this lesson plan needed.


Will Rogers was born on a Cherokee Reservation where a freed slave taught him how to lasso.  Rogers became so proficient with the lasso that he got a job as a trick lassoer in a Wild West Show.  While demonstrating his lasso skills, Rogers also began sharing his quips.  Eventually he became known more for his sharp wit than his lasso skills.
Share with students Will Rogers’ history and explain to them that he was a humorist whom many viewed as very wise.
Read to the students the following quotes of Will Rogers:
Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don't have for something they don't need.
America is becoming so educated that ignorance will be a novelty. I will belong to the select few.
An ignorant person is one who doesn't know what you have just found out.
An onion can make people cry but there's never been a vegetable that can make people laugh.
Being a hero is about the shortest-lived profession on earth.
Chaotic action is preferable to orderly inaction.
Don't let yesterday use up too much of today.
Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
Everything is funny, as long as it's happening to somebody else.
If advertisers spent the same amount of money on improving their products as they do on advertising then they wouldn't have to advertise them.
Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.
The best way out of a difficulty is through it.
The man with the best job in the country is the vice-president. All he has to do is get up every morning and say, "How is the president?"
The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them.
Why don't they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years Americans would be the smartest race of people on Earth.
You've got to go out on a limb sometimes because that's where the fruit is.

Then, together as a class, explore the meaning and humor of each of the above quotes.

Extending the Lesson:

To extend this lesson, have students write their own quips.  Before writing, share with students examples of irony, such as we park in a driveway and drive on parkways.

Sources & Resources:

Will Rogers Biography
Will Rogers' Quotes 

   Rogers, Betty.  Will Rogers.  Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000. 
   Rogers, Will, Carter, Joseph H.  Never Met a Man I Didn’t Like.  New York: Harper Paperbacks, 1991. 
   Rodgers, Will, Collins Neighbors, Reba, Malak, Gregory N. (ed.) and Lowe, Patricia A.  Will Rogers Says … favorite Quotations: Favorite Quotations Selected by the Will Rogers Memorial Staff.  Tulsa: Council Oak Books, 1992. 
   Sterling, Bryan.  The Best of Will Rogers.  New York: M. Evans and Company, 2000. 
   Yagoda, Ben.  Will Rogers: A Biography.  Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000. 
Rogers, Will, Dresser, and Cruze, James (dir).  Will Rogers Collection, Vol. 2 (DVD).  Hollywood: 20th Century Fox, 2006.
Rogers, Will, Wilson, Dorothy, and Marshall, George (dir).  Will Rogers Collection, Vol. 1 (DVD).  Hollywood: 20th Century Fox, 2006.
Credits: This lesson was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University