Lesson Plan

What Would YOU Do?

Hoeing the garden


Abraham Lincoln learned many lessons on responsibility while growing up in Indiana.  This lesson allows the teacher and students to share and talk about responsible actions.


Students will recognize opportunities to practice responsibility in their own lives.

Students will relate to Abraham Lincoln's childhood dilemmas.


As a young boy growing up in Indiana, Abraham Lincoln learned and practiced the act of taking personal responsibility. Abraham borrowed a biography of George Washington from his neighbor, Josiah Crawford. By some accident the book was exposed to ruined by a rainstorm. Young Abraham acknowledged to Mr. Crawford his accountability. Abraham agreed to work off this debt to Mr. Crawford by pulling fodder (cut the tops from corn) for two days.


Post-it note pads, copies of worksheets, poster board, books on Lincoln's life


Part 1: Teacher: Share a personal experience from your childhood in which you were faced with a dilemma (i.e. borrowing something and losing it, stealing, breaking something that didn't belong to you). Leave out the ending of the story, allow the students to pair up and share about possible ways to resolve the situation. Encourage the students to brainstorm as many resolutions as possible. Have them write their endings on sticky notes.

Write the words "Responsible" and "Irresponsible" as headings on the board. Discuss and categorize the brainstormed outcomes as a class and place the sticky notes on the board under the appropriate headings as determined by the class.

Part 2: Journal: Have the students write about a time they were faced with a difficult situation and had the opportunity to practice responsibility and what the outcomes of their choices were.

Part 3: Worksheet: Refocus on the story about Abraham working off a debt because a borrowed book was ruined. Discuss how he took responsibility and worked to repay the cost of the book. Have the students pick out other dilemmas in Lincoln's life and identify how he demonstrated responsibility in each situation. Use a timeline of Lincoln's life or books that share events that took place in his childhood to provide more situations for the students to consider if necessary. (worksheet: Young Abraham Lincoln - Responsibility)

Part 4: Everyday Dilemmas: In groups, brainstorm dilemmas that students may run into during the school year and how a responsible person would respond. (create slogans, i.e. " if you borrow it, bring it back")

Have students create posters depicting a young Abraham Lincoln responding responsibly (using the slogans in school settings). Allow each group to present their poster to the rest of the class and explain how they think a young Abraham Lincoln would have responded.

Park Connections

Once Abraham Lincoln borrowed Ramsey's Life of Washington from Josiah Crawford, a neighbor. When the rain ruined it, he had to repay him by stripping corn for three days.