Lesson Plan

Birthplace of John F. Kennedy: Home of the Boy Who Would Be President

John F. Kennedy's Boyhood Home

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RH.2, 6-8.RH.3, 6-8.RH.4, 6-8.RH.5, 6-8.RH.6, 6-8.RH.7, 6-8.RH.8, 6-8.RH.9, 6-8.RH.10, 9-10.RH.1, 9-10.RH.2, 9-10.RH.3, 9-10.RH.4, 9-10.RH.5, 9-10.RH.6, 9-10.RH.7, 9-10.RH.8, 9-10.RH.9, 9-10.RH.10
Additional Standards:
US History Era 7 Standard 3A: The student understands social tensions and their consequences in the postwar era.
Curriculum Standards for Social Studies from the National Council for the Social Studies
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.

Essential Question

What can we learn about a leader by studying their family life?


1. To list the values that Joseph and Rose Kennedy tried to instill in their children;
2. To identify reasons why we remember JFK today;
3. To consider the effects of family culture or family environment and community on the development of character and personality;
4. To investigate their family traditions, values, interests, and the neighborhood they grew up in, and discuss the effects these have had on the development of their personality and character.


Time Period: 20th Century
Topics: This lesson can be used as a biographical study, an introduction to the Kennedy presidency and the turbulent sixties, or as part of a unit on post-World War II American history.


John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) was a man who made a difference. He was both the youngest man ever elected president of the United States and the first Roman Catholic to hold that office. Those qualities reinforced for many the belief that any American could become president.

Although JFK was a member of an extraordinary American family of entrepreneurs, statesmen and civic leaders, he spent the first four years of his childhood in a modest home in Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Brookline's lovely tree-lined streets, good schools, and space for children to play made it an attractive place to raise a family. It was there that Rose Kennedy and her husband Joseph began instilling the high standards and ambition that would make the Kennedys one of America's most famous families. 

Lesson Hook/Preview

The Kennedy story began in Ireland the 1840s, where a blight caused the failure of four consecutive potato crops. Facing starvation, hundreds of thousands of Irish peasants left for America. While they settled along the eastern seaboard, so many ended up in Boston, Massachusetts that by 1855 more than a third of the city's population was Irish. Among these immigrants were Patrick Kennedy and Thomas Fitzgerald; like many others, they worked hard, married, and raised families. Unlike any of the others, however, within little more than 100 years these two immigrant families put one of their own into the highest office in America. In 1914 their grandchildren, Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald, married and eventually had nine children. Their second son, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, became the 35th president of the United States.


Getting Started Prompt
Map: Orients the students and encourages them to think about how place affects culture and society
Readings: Primary and secondary source readings provide content and spark critical analysis.
Visual Evidence: Students critique and analyze visual evidence to tackle questions and support their own theories about the subject.
Optional post-lesson activities: If time allows, these will deepen your students' engagement with the topics and themes introduced in the lesson, and to help them develop essential skills.



Additional Resources

John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site
The John Fitzgerald Kennedy NHS is a unit of the National Park System. The park's web pages provide a biographical sketch of JFK as well as information about the park.

American Presidents Travel Itinerary 
The Discover Our Shared Heritage online travel itinerary on American Presidents provides information about the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and his Massachusetts boyhood home, The John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site.

National Archives (NARA)
The Archives has placed on its web site a large number of items about John F. Kennedy and details about his presidency. To find them, visit the NARA search engine.

American Presidents, Life Portraits
In this series, C-SPAN explores the life stories of the 41 men who have been president by traveling to presidential homes, museums, libraries, and grave sites and speaking with presidential scholars. American Presidents, Life Portraits will focus on one president each week, including John F. Kennedy on November 5, 1999. 

John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. This web site includes biographical information, presidential recordings, copies of speeches, and resources for educators.

John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address
Read the entire text of the 1961 inaugural address and hear President Kennedy giving the address that morning.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery serves as the final resting place for the thirty-fifth president. This web site includes information and photographs about Kennedy's death and burial.

Contact Information

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Last updated: October 12, 2018