Lesson Plan

Herbert Hoover: Iowa Farm Boy and World Humanitarian

Hoover birthplace

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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 2C: The student understands the impact at home and abroad of the United States involvement in World War I.
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

How do childhood experiences shape someone's worldview?


1. To relate the events of Herbert Hoover's childhood in West Branch, Iowa, that may have motivated his concern for children around the world;
2. To understand the daily life of a rural community in the 1870s and 1880s;
3. To describe and evaluate the activities that led to Hoover's recognition as a good citizen of the world;
4. To discuss and give examples of ways they can act as good citizens in their own community.


Time Period: 1870s-1930s
Topics: This lesson could be used in connection with studies of World War I, as an introduction to Hoover's presidency and the Great Depression, or in a unit devoted to citizenship.


Although some people remember Herbert Hoover as the man who was President during the early years of the Great Depression, others may know him as a complex public servant, the "Great Humanitarian" whose career spanned a remarkable seven decades. A graduate of Stanford University, Hoover became a successful mining engineer before organizing relief programs for the starving victims of World War I.

As Secretary of Commerce under Presidents Harding and Coolidge, he helped to create safer highways and aircraft, better health care for children, and the standardization of commercial products. And, in 1927, he mustered a fleet of 600 boats and 60 airplanes to rescue 325,000 Americans who were left homeless during the catastrophic Mississippi River flood.

Following World War II, President Truman chose him to help the hungry people of Europe once again, and he spent his "retirement" years as an amazingly prolific author, speaker, and government adviser. Continuing his life-long desire to help needy children, he also served as chairman of the Boys' Clubs of America, helping to open 500 new chapters throughout the United States.

Lesson Hook/Preview

Shortly before Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) was inaugurated in 1929 as the 31st president of the United States, he made the following prophetic statement:

My friends have made the American people think me a sort of superman, able to cope successfully with the most difficult and complicated problems....They expect the impossible of me and should there arise conditions with which the political machinery is unable to cope, I will be the one to suffer.1
Later that year the stock market crashed, plunging the nation into a depression that rocked not only the United States, but the entire world. The political machinery was unable to cope with the Great Depression, and for some years Hoover's reputation suffered. One newspaper called him "President Reject"; a textbook called him "the man with ice water in his veins." In 1932, however, one commentator prophesied, "Hoover will be known as the greatest innocent bystander in history...full of courage and patriotism, undaunted to the last...a brave man fighting valiantly, futilely to the end."

1 Richard Norton Smith, An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover, 103.


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.


Great Depression
stock market

Additional Resources

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is a unit of the National Park Service. Visit the park's web pages for additional information.

American Presidents Travel Itinerary
The Discover Our Shared Heritage online travel itinerary on American Presidents provides information about the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, and on the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and President Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover's Rapidan Camp

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
The Presidential Library and Museum maintains the Herbert Hoover Papers and includes resources for educators.

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

The White House Historical Assocation
The White House Historical Association website provides a biographical sketch of Herbert Hoover and a copy of his Inaugural Address.

West Branch, Iowa
This site looks at the history of Herbert Hoover's hometown.

Contact Information

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Last updated: October 12, 2018