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A Teacher's Guide

Theodore Roosevelt: Champion of the American Spirit

Note to Teachers

The following activities are based on Theodore Roosevelt: Champion of the American Spirit. The activities are tailored for fifth through ninth graders but can be simplified or enhanced to suit lower or higher grades. Each activity requires approximately one classroom period of thirty to forty-five minutes. Preparation time will vary according to the level of students' skills.

Activity One

Social Studies/History

Reading Comprehension

Computer Skills


What were the major issues facing the United States when Roosevelt became president? (Chapters 13–20 of Theodore Roosevelt: Champion of the American Spirit will be useful here). How did Roosevelt think these problems should be solved?

Imagine you are living in 1903. President Theodore Roosevelt is stopping in your community during his trip across the United States. Select one member of your class to play the role of Roosevelt. The rest of the class will be people from the town. Decide if your group represents a farming community, an industrial town, an immigrant community, or a group concerned about conservation. Dress in clothes of the time using photos from the book as a guide. (Don't forget TR's eyeglasses!) Have Roosevelt deliver a campaign speech telling voters what he wants for the United States. What issues will he highlight for your community? Are there citizens in your group who disagree with the president? Ask them to challenge Roosevelt with questions and give their own opinions.

Computer activity
Listen to the recording of Roosevelt's voice by logging on to http://memory.loc.gov/. The American Memory page will appear. Now click on Collection Finder. In Collection Finder, click on Sound Recordings. This will bring up American Memory Collections: Original Format: Sound Recordings. Scroll down to Roosevelt, Theodore Films 1898–1919 and click on this entry. You now have your choice of listening to various audio recordings of Theodore Roosevelt.

Activity Two


Computer Science


When he was young, "Teedie" Roosevelt was an avid bird watcher. Read Chapter 1. Where did Roosevelt learn about birds? What did he look for when he saw a bird? How did he record his findings?

Look for birds in your backyard or in a nearby park or woods. Make notes about the birds' colors, shapes, flight patterns, and nests. Listen for different bird songs. Use a simple bird guidebook from the library to help in your research. Peterson's Backyard Birds (Houghton Mifflin, 1999) is a good one. Make a report on your findings and present it to the class. You can use photographs, drawings, audiotapes, and written descriptions. How do you think your bird study compares with Roosevelt's?

Computer Activity
Find two or three Web sites on the Internet that describe birds. Tell the class how you found the Web sites and why you selected them. Is one better than the other? How did you decide which one had the best information?

Activity Three

Social Studies/ History


Interpretation of Events


Use the index and the chronology in Theodore Roosevelt: Champion the American Spirit to find the year or years the following events occurred in Roosevelt's life. Read the instructions to determine why some page numbers in the index are printed in bold (dark) type. Now that you have identified the dates, create a time line that lists the events in order, from the earliest date to the latest. Explain, in writing or to the class, why the events are important.

Events in the Life of Theodore Roosevelt

• Travels to Egypt and Germany with his family
• Awarded Noble Peace Prize
• Becomes president of United States after assassination of William McKinley
• Panama becomes independent from Colombia
• Serves as police commissioner in New York City
• Camps in Yosemite National Park with naturalist John Muir
• Serves as assistant secretary of the navy
• Lives as a rancher in Dakota Badlands
• Dies in his sleep at Sagamore Hill
• Elected governor of New York
• Runs for president on Progressive (Bull Moose) Ticket
• Elected to full term as president

Activity Four

Social Studies/History

Language Arts


Theodore Roosevelt wrote more than 150,000 letters during his lifetime. Historians have used those letters to learn about his life. Today, many people communicate using e-mail, instant messages, and cell phones. How do you think future historians will gather information about past events?

Start a letter research project. Do any of your relatives have old family letters? If they do, get copies and read them. What can you tell about your family from these letters? Is there information in them about the weather? Clothes? Holidays? Work? Other family members? Current events?

Pretend you are a historian and write five paragraphs or more telling what you have learned about your family from the letters.


Find an old photograph of your family — the older the better. Study it for details. Who are the people in the picture? What kind of clothes are they wearing? How did they fix their hair? What were they doing when the picture was taken? Where do you think it was taken? What was the occasion — a birthday, a picnic, a holiday? Do you know who took the picture, and why? Look at the expressions on the people's faces. Can you tell anything about their personalities from the photo?

Now pretend you are a historian. Use the information you have gathered from the photograph to write five paragraphs or more about what you have learned from your research.

Activity Five


Social Studies


Find a map of North and Central America. Trace an outline of the map, then locate the following places on your outline:

• New York City
• Medora, North Dakota
• Yellowstone National Park
• Panama Canal
• Cuba
• Brownsville, TX
• San Antonio, TX
• Washington, DC

Explain, in writing or to the class, why these places were important in Roosevelt's life. You may want to use an encyclopedia to find out more about the Dakota Badlands. Why were they important in Roosevelt's life? How do you think they influenced his time as president?

Activity Six

Social Studies



The census in the United States is taken every ten years. Using the most recent edition of The World Almanac, notice the changes in population between the approximate times of the presidencies of George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and George Bush. (Use figures for the years 1800, 1900, and 2000.) Research the exact years that each man served as president.

Plot the population changes between 1800, 1900, and 2000 on a chart or graph. List some reasons for the population increases that have occurred in the United States.

For More Information

Visit the Theodore Roosevelt Association on the Internet at www.theodoreroosevelt.org. This excellent site provides biographical profiles, photographs, texts of speeches, cartoons, and links to other reliable Roosevelt Web sites, as well as a wealth of other Theodore Roosevelt information.

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