Middle School Curricular Resources

Biographical Resources

Biography of John F. Kennedy
Biography of Jacqueline B. Kennedy

Written for upper elementary to adult readers, these narratives summarize the life and legacy of the 35th president of the United States and his wife.

Campaign, Election and Inauguration

President Kennedy delivers his Inaugural Address at the Capitol, Washington, D. C., 20 January 1961.

Lesson Plan: Political Debates: Advising a Candidate
Students analyze excerpts from the first Kennedy-Nixon debate (September 26, 1960) and a memo assessing the debate from one of Kennedy's advisers. They then watch a current political debate to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate they support.

Lesson Plan: Recipe for an Inaugural Address
Students consider what "ingredients" might go into the speech that will launch a President's term in office as they examine some of the most memorable inaugural addresses of the past.

Lesson Plan: Red States, Blue States: Mapping the Presidential Election
Students analyze the results of the 1960 election, collect data for a recent presidential election, and identify changes in voting patterns.

The Kennedy White House

The President's Desk: A Resource Guide for Teachers, Grades 4-12
Invite your students to take a seat at The President's Desk and discover what it means to hold the highest office in the land. This online interactive exhibit features JFK's treasured mementos and important presidential records. Primary sources ranging from recordings of meetings in the Oval Office to family photographs populate the site and provide an engaging and fascinating look into John F. Kennedy's life and presidency. The President's Desk Resource Guide provides an overview of the Desk and suggested curriculum-relevant lesson plans and activities. To access the President's Desk interactive exhibit:  http://microsites.jfklibrary.org/presidentsdesk 

President Kennedy addresses AMVETS by telephone from the Oval Office, 23 August 1962

Lesson Plan: A President's Day
If you are elected to the nation's highest office, what are you actually expected to do? Spend a day at the White House with John F. Kennedy to learn about some of the president's most important roles and responsibilities.

Lesson Plan: Why Choose the Moon?
Using primary source materials, students investigate the motivation for President Kennedy's ambitious space program.

Americans in Space 
Primary source material and classroom activities reveal why exploring space was a priority for the Kennedy administration.

Lesson Plan: Plant a Tree
Using primary source materials, students investigate the use of metaphor in presidential oratory and apply to a piece of persuasive writing on a current national or global issue.

Lesson Plan: Jacqueline Kennedy's White House Restoration
Students learn about ancient symbols and ornamental and architectural elements to identify some symbols of American democracy in the White House as an introduction to the origins of common symbols which represent the United States and its values.

Civil Rights

1963: The Struggle for Civil Rights
Bring the pivotal events of the civil rights movement in 1963 to life for your students through more than 230 primary sources ranging from film footage of the March on Washington and letters from youth advising the president to JFK’s landmark address to the American people and secret recordings of behind-the-scenes negotiations on civil rights legislation. To foster your students' understanding of this era, lesson plans on each of the seven topics are available in the "For Educators" section of the website.

Integrating Ole Miss 
Students witness civil rights history firsthand through primary source material. Includes guiding questions for classroom activities and assignments.

Leaders in the Struggle for Civil Rights
These letters and telegrams from key figures help tell the story of the civil rights movement during the Kennedy years. Documents include communications from James Farmer, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young.

Activity: Art as a Civic Language
Students examine a Jacob Lawrence painting to explore the experiences of participants in the civil rights struggle during the 1950s and 1960s.

Lesson: What if Laws are Unjust?
Students read and analyze segregation ordinances, and learn how Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists challenged these unjust laws through peaceful protest and civil disobedience during the 1963 civil rights campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. The lesson highlights the vital role that young people played in the campaign.

Activity: Joining the Struggle: Young Activists in Birmingham, 1963
Adapted from the longer lesson plan, What if Laws are Unjust?, this activity asks students to consider young people’s rationales for participating in civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, and the risks and rewards of their inclusion.

Historical Resources

JFK in History
This section of the website contains topic guides on the significant events that occurred during President Kennedy's years in office. These essays are intended to give an overview of challenges and issues that defined Kennedy's administration, and include relevant primary source material.

Historical Literature Resources for Elementary and Middle Grades
Annotated bibliographies of both recommended biographies and literature about American history. Includes guidelines for critically analyzing biographies and history-based literature.