Life of a Lighthouse Keeper


The teacher will introduce the concept of lighthouses and the lighthouse keepers who helped guide ships to safety. Students will research how lighthouse keepers lived and learn about their daily tasks. Students will compare the life of a lighthouse keeper with their own life and share findings through a project of their choice.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters


Students will create a product to demonstrate knowledge of life as a lighthouse keeper. Students will demonstrate understanding of the functions of a lighthouse.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts


  • 2nd
  • 3rd

Class Time

  • Sessions: Four
  • Session Length: 30-45 minutes
  • Total Length: 91-120 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts


  • Quarter
  • Reverse (back)
  • Obverse (front)
  • Lighthouse
  • Lighthouse Keeper
  • Compare and Contrast


  • One overhead transparency (or equivalent) of the following:
  • Copies of the following (one per student):
    • "Life at a Lighthouse" worksheet
    • "Lighthouse Keeper's Log" worksheet
    • "Life of a Lighthouse Keeper Project Plan"
    • "Life of a Lighthouse Keeper Rubric"
  • Supplemental age-appropriate texts that give information about lighthouses and/or Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
  • Age-appropriate, relevant web sites for background information, including:
  • Class map of the United States
  • Chart paper
  • Writing and drawing materials


  • Make an overhead transparency (or equivalent) of the following:
  • Make one copy per student of the following:
    • "Life at a Lighthouse" worksheet
    • "Lighthouse Keeper's Log" worksheet
    • "Life of a Lighthouse Keeper Project Plan"
    • "Life of a Lighthouse Keeper Rubric"
  • Identify supplemental texts and websites including
  • Use texts and resources available to provide background information to the students about the Apostle Islands, lighthouses, and lighthouse keepers. Make the texts available for the students to look through or bookmark areas for additional reading aloud.
  • Review the completed worksheets with the students, either on the overhead or on chart paper, for later reference.
  • Gather writing and drawing materials and make them available to students


Lesson Steps

  1. Describe the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program for background information. Explain to students that the back of a coin is called the "reverse," and "obverse" is another name for the front.
  2. With the students, examine the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Quarter reverse. Locate the site on a class map and note its position in relation to your school's location. Ask the students to tell you what they see in the image on the quarter's reverse. Explain that the coin depicts the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin. Point out the lighthouse in the background of the coin. Ask students if anyone has been to a lighthouse and invite them to share their experiences.
  3. Tell the class they will be learning about lighthouses and the lives of lighthouse keepers. Introduce the supplementary text(s) and read the pre-selected text or excerpt as a class. After the reading, using chart paper, discuss key points (5 Ws) of lighthouses. Address and highlight any new or unfamiliar vocabulary and record on a chart.
  4. Have the students complete the section of the "Life at a Lighthouse" worksheet that is about themselves, focusing on tasks they do every daily like go to school, brush their teeth, chores, homework, etc. Discuss student responses as a class. Using Web sites and texts, point out some details about the responsibilities and daily tasks of lighthouse keepers. Add the information to a large Venn diagram on chart paper.
  5. Have the students complete the lighthouse keeper's section of the "Life at a Lighthouse" worksheet. Discuss point of view and how lighthouse keepers may have felt during this time.
  6. Tell the students they will research the lives of lighthouse keepers. Have the students record their findings in the "Lighthouse Keeper's Log" worksheet. Have the students discuss the results from the worksheets with each other and add colorful illustrations to the worksheet.
  7. Distribute the "Life of a Lighthouse Keeper Project Plan." Using the transparency, review the possible project options with the class. The students should decide which project to complete.
  8. Have the students work independently on their selected projects from the project plan and present them to the class.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Allow work in pairs or small groups.
  • Allow students to complete the worksheets on a computer or tablet.
  • Allow students to use a scribe to complete their worksheets.


  • Have students create a model of a lighthouse as part of their project.
  • Have students create a journal/diary from the perspective of a lighthouse keeper.


  • Take anecdotal notes about the students' participation in class discussions.
  • Evaluate the students' worksheets and projects to see whether they have met the lesson objectives.
  • Use the rubric to evaluate performance on the final product.

Common Core Standards

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RI.2 Reading: Informational Text
Cluster: Key Ideas and Details
Grade(s): Grade 2

  • RI.2.1 Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
  • RI.2.2 Identify the main topic of a multi-paragraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.
  • RI.2.3 Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.2 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 2 
Cluster: Production and Distribution of Writing

  • W.2.4. begins in grade 3.
  • W.2.5. With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.
  • W.2.6. With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RI.3 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grade 3 
Cluster: Key Ideas and Details

  • RI.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
  • RI.3.2 Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.
  • RI.3.3 Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.3 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 3 
Cluster: Research to Build and Present Knowledge

  • W.3.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
  • W.3.8 Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.
  • W.3.9 (W.3.9 begins in grade 4)

National Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.