Frederick Douglass National Historical Site: A Notable Narrative


Students will learn to read and create a timeline and will correctly identify the sequence of events. Students will learn how Frederick Douglass fought for equality and justice for all people.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters


Students will identify the 2017 Frederick Douglass National Historic Site America the Beautiful Quarter reverse and will understand how to read and create a timeline. They will correctly sequence a series of events and examine the life of Frederick Douglass

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts


  • 2nd
  • 3rd

Class Time

  • Sessions: Three
  • Session Length: 30-45 minutes
  • Total Length: 121-150 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of sequencing.

Terms and Concepts

  • Quarter
  • Reverse (back)
  • Obverse (front)
  • Timeline
  • Sequence
  • Biography
  • Autobiography
  • Abolitionist
  • Freedom
  • Equality
  • Orator




Lesson Steps

Session 1

  1. Display and examine the 2017 Frederick Douglass National Historic Site quarter reverse image.
  2. As background information, explain to the students that the United States Mint began to issue the quarters in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program in 2010. By the time the program ends in 2021, there will be a total of 56 designs on the back of the coin. Each design will focus on a different national site—one from each state, territory and the District of Columbia.
  3. Tell the students that the front of the coin is called the "obverse" and the back is called the "reverse." Ask the students to examine the coin image and tell you about the image on the quarter's reverse. Explain that the coin image depicts Frederick Douglass seated at a writing desk with his home, Cedar Hill in Washington, D.C. in the background.
  4. Ask students what they know about Frederick Douglass and record their responses in the "K" portion of the K-W-L chart.
  5. Ask the students what they would like to learn about Frederick Douglass and record the responses in the "W" portion of the chart.
  6. Ask the students who Frederick Douglass was and why they think the Historical Site at his home Cedar Hill was selected to represent the District of Columbia in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program.
  7. Tell the students that Frederick Douglass was a slave who became a prominent abolitionist, author, and orator. With his powerful words and actions, he served as a voice for equality and justice for all people.
  8. Introduce students to the selected text about Frederick Douglass. As a group, preview the text. Read the selected text to the class and address any unfamiliar vocabulary and concepts. During the reading, the students should take note of any important facts about Frederick Douglass.
  9. After concluding the selected text, have the students share the facts they noted and add them to the "L" column of the K-W-L chart. Explain to the students that they will be doing further research on people who helped influence Frederick Douglass throughout his life.
  10. Ask the students to write a journal entry on what they felt when they listened to the text about Frederick Douglass and his accomplishments.

Session 2

  1. Display the "Frederick Douglass National Historical Site America the Beautiful Quarter reverse" transparency and the K-W-L chart from Session 1. As a class review the material covered.
  2. Ask the students what a timeline is. If necessary, explain that timelines show events in the order that they happened.
  3. Draw a vertical timeline on a piece of chart paper and title it "Class Timeline."
  4. Start the timeline with the year most of your students were born and end with the current year. Ask the students to think of major events that have happened in their lives.
  5. As a class, fill in the timeline with events and dates from the student responses. Review the timeline with them. Explain that a timeline can show large or small lengths of time and can include pictures to go with the events.
  6. Display the "Frederick Douglass Timeline" worksheet and distribute a copy to each student.
  7. Discuss the events from Frederick Douglass's life that are listed on the worksheet.
  8. Divide the class into pairs and have them complete the worksheet.
  9. Review the "Frederick Douglass Timeline" worksheet with the class and write the answers on the transparency.
  10. Explain to the students that during the next session, they will be working in pairs to research and complete a biography page and timeline about a person who influenced Frederick Douglass.
  11. If necessary, remind the students that a biography is a story that provides information about a particular person other than the writer. Add the definition of "biography" to the chart paper.
  12. Display the "Friend of Frederick" overhead transparency. Review the categories with the students. Remind the students that they will be choosing a person who influenced Frederick Douglass during his lifetime.
  13. Display the list of people from which the students can choose, giving some information about each and the various texts of possibilities for the students to look through.
  14. Distribute a "Friend of Frederick" worksheet to each student. Have the students write their name on the worksheets and note the name of their selected person. Collect the worksheets.

Session 3

  1. Redistribute the "Friend of Frederick" worksheets. Divide the class into pairs or small groups based on their choices of people to research.
  2. Allow the students time to visit the computer lab, look through texts, and complete their worksheets. Be sure the students are filling in the "Dates" column as they complete their research so that they will be able to complete the timeline.
  3. After allowing time for their research, distribute a "Timeline Outline" worksheet to each student. Allow the students time to complete the timeline and summary paragraph independently. Be sure the students include the reasons why their person was important to Frederick Douglass.
  4. Have the students share their paragraphs and timelines with the class.
  5. Collect the students' worksheets. Display the "Timeline Outline" worksheets in the classroom.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Allow the students to work in small groups to complete the research, and if desired, to use a scribe.
  • Allow the students to write the events for their timeline on large index cards for sequencing and the presentation.


  • Have the students create a coin celebrating their selected person to accompany their timeline and paragraph.
  • Allow the students to write the events for their timeline on large index cards and create an overall timeline covering all of the people who influenced Frederick Douglass.
  • Divide the class into pairs and have the students interview each other to create personal timelines.


  • Frederick Douglass Timeline Worksheet
  • Friend of Frederick Worksheet
  • Timeline Outline Worksheet

Common Core Standards

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.1 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 1
Cluster: Comprehension and Collaboration

  • SL.1.1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
    • Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
    • Build on others' talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges.
    • Ask questions to clear up any confusion about the topics and texts under discussion.
  • SL.1.2. Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
  • SL.1.3. Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.1 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 1
Cluster: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

  • SL.1.4. Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.
  • SL.1.5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • SL.1.6. Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation. (See grade 1 Language standards 1 and 3 for specific expectations.)

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.K Writing
Grade(s): Grade 1
Cluster: Text Types and Purposes

  • W.K.1. Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is...).
  • W.K.2. Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
  • W.K.3. Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.

National Standards

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: People, Places, and Environment
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • Enable learners to use, interpret, and distinguish various representations of Earth such as maps, globes, and photographs, and to use appropriate geographic tools
  • Encourage learners to construct, use, and refine maps and mental maps, calculate distance, scale, area, and density, and organize information about people, places, regions, and environments in a spatial context
  • Help learners to locate, distinguish, and describe the relationships among varying regional and global patterns of physical systems such as landforms, climate, and natural resources, and explain changes in the physical systems
  • Guide learners in exploring characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface
  • Have learners describe how people create places that reflect culture, human needs, current values and ideals, and government policies
  • Provide opportunities for learners to examine, interpret, and analyze interactions of human beings and their physical environments, and to observe and analyze social and economic effects of environmental changes, both positive and negative
  • Challenge learners to consider, compare, and evaluate existing uses of resources and land in communities, regions, countries, and the world
  • Direct learners to explore ways in which Earth's physical features have changed over time, and describe and assess ways historical events have influenced and been influenced by physical and human geographic features

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Science, Technology, and Society
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • enable learners to identify, describe, and examine both current and historical examples of the interaction and interdependence of science, technology, and society in a variety of cultural settings
  • provide opportunities for learners to make judgments about how science and technology have transformed the physical world and human society and our understanding of time, space, place, and human-environment interactions
  • have learners analyze the way in which science and technology influence core societal values, beliefs, and attitudes and how societal attitudes influence scientific and technological endeavors
  • prompt learners to evaluate various policies proposed to deal with social changes resulting from new technologies
  • help learners to identify and interpret various perspectives about human societies and the physical world using scientific knowledge, technologies, and an understanding of ethical standards of this and other cultures
  • encourage learners to formulate strategies and develop policy proposals pertaining to science/technology-society issues