Lesson Plan

Carl Sandburg: Biographer of Lincoln (Grades 3-5)

Black and White photo of Carl Sandburg with a sculpture bust of Abraham Lincoln
Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. 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.

Essential Question

What is the difference between a biography and an autobiograghy?


• Students will identify biographer, autobiographer, biography and autobiography.
• Students will compare and contrast Carl Sandburg and Abraham Lincoln.
• Students will identify key details within an informational text.


Carl Sandburg wrote an autobiography about himself titled, “Always the Young Strangers”. He also wrote a six volume biography of Abraham Lincoln, two volumes called The Prairie Years, and four volumes called The War Years. He earned a Pulitzer Prize in History in 1940 for The War Years.


Download the lesson materials "Biographer of Lincoln" Powerpoint. This can be saved as Google slides and then sent out to the students or shared in the classroom. 


The purpose of this lesson is for students to understand why Sandburg wrote about Lincoln. Then they will write a biography of someone who inspires them.

Download Carl Sandburg Biographer of Lincoln power point


Procedure (Remote Learning)
Share the Biographer of Lincoln PowerPoint with your students. They will listen to Sandburg speak about Lincoln and follow the instructions on the slides.

Procedure (In Person)

Activating Strategy
Ask students “If you had someone famous to write about, who would it be and what might you write?” Prompt students in discussing the difference between an autobiography and a biography. Explain that Sandburg was a biographer of Abraham Lincoln.   

  • What does a biographer do? Introduce the term historian and relate that many historians enjoy writing about notable people.
  • How / Where does a biographer get information to write the biography?
  • How does a biographer teach us about history?

Teaching Strategy  
  • Share the longer piece of writing from “Abe Lincoln Grows Up” with the class (on slide 3 of the PowerPoint also or it can be projected on whiteboard for students to follow along).
    • What do the students notice about the way Sandburg wrote?
    • Why do they think he wrote this way?
    • What does Sandburg teach us about Lincoln in this piece of writing?

Summarizing Strategy
Students will research a famous person who inspires them and write an informational piece or biography of their life.

Contact Information

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Last updated: August 10, 2020