Lesson plans and teaching ideas
10 of Ben Franklin’s Lesser-Known Feats of Awesomeness
Informational text; a good model of voice.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Downloadable e-text of the autobiography in multiple formats, including EPUB, Kindle, and plain text.
Ben and Verse
This site rewrites Franklin's aphorisms as up-to-date verse, with different proverbs appearing each month. In addition to being entertaining, it has many possible classroom applications. Click on "The Complete B&V" for the archives.
This page includes 8 lesson plans that could be used with or without the PBS special program. Especially good: "If Poor Richard Had a Computer," "New and Improved," "Meet My Alter-Ego," and "Hit ’em with a Broadside."
On this page, a brief biography. Follow links to activities, discussion questions, and archived support graphics.
Bibliography, major themes, omissions, timetable of The Autobiography, discussion questions.
Suggestions for helping students see Franklin as a writer of literary merit.
Benjamin Franklin: In His Own Words
This exhibit from the Library of Congress includes a brief biography, documents, letters, books, broadsides, and cartoons.
Ben Franklin Timeline
Standards-based lesson focusing on Franklin and aspects of leadership. Includes activities, vocabulary words, and related links for additional information. This lesson plan is designed for elementary students.
Ben Franklin's Autobiography
After reading Ben Franklin's autobiography and discussing his list of virtues to achieve perfection, students develop their own list of virtues for the 21st century and try to follow them for a week.
Benjamin Franklin's Many Hats
This unit uses the Hiram Powers statue of Franklin as a focal point. It includes a photo of the statue and printable handouts that combine biography and art. Students compare and contrast clothing styles from ancient Greece, Franklin's time, and today; and they can make a hat of their own. Designed for grades 6-8, requires Adobe Reader for access.
The Electric Franklin
A variety of links, including quotes, a timeline, pictures, and the complete text of The Autobiography.
Making Friends with Franklin
Lesson 1 addresses writing; lesson 2, science; lesson 3, art and critical thinking. These standards-based lessons are designed for grades 3-8.
Masters of Chiasmus: Benjamin Franklin
A collection of chiasmus found in Franklin's writing.
Proverbs: At Home and around the World
Students work with proverbs from home and from around the world, exploring how these maxims are tied to a culture's values and everyday experience. While doing so, they will learn about proverbs: how they work, how to interpret them, and how they can be culturally and personally significant.
Rediscovering America: The Real Ben Franklin
Vocabulary, discussion questions, related sites, designed for grades 6-8. Video available from the Discovery Channel.
Scavenger Hunt: Happy Birthday Ben!
In honor of Franklin's birthday (Jan. 17), students conduct a scavenger hunt to answer questions about his life. This activity is designed for elementary students.
The World of Benjamin Franklin
This easy-to-read biography includes a timeline, a family tree, electricity safety tips, and links to activities.