ALEX Lesson Plan

Lafayette's Grand Tour

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Lesa Roberts
Organization:Whitesburg Christian Academy
The event this resource created for:Alabama Department of Archives and History
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35070


Lafayette's Grand Tour


Students will analyze a primary document and read a secondary source about the Marquis de Lafayette's Grand Tour of the United States in 1825. The Marquis and his entourage toured lower Alabama for a few days in April.

Students will create an annotated timeline detailing his days and the events that occurred in Alabama as the country prepared to celebrate America's 50th birthday. The timeline will include dates and descriptions of the people, places, and events in informative summaries as well as appropriate illustrations.

This lesson was created in partnership with the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
11 ) Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text. [RI.4.2]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.4.11- Identify the main idea of an informational text and details that support the main idea.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
12 ) Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text. [RI.4.3]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.4.12- Identify events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in an informational text.

Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 4
Alabama Studies
6 ) Describe cultural, economic, and political aspects of the lifestyles of early nineteenth-century farmers, plantation owners, slaves, and townspeople.

Examples: cultural—housing, education, religion, recreation

economic—transportation, means of support

political—inequity of legal codes

•  Describing major areas of agricultural production in Alabama, including the Black Belt and fertile river valleys

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.4.6- Identify information about early nineteenth- century farmers, plantation owners, slaves, and townspeople.

Local/National Standards:

National Standards for History Basic Education:

Standard 4B: Demonstrate understanding of ordinary people who have exemplified values and principles of American democracy.

Standard 4C: The student understands historic figures who have exemplified values and principles of American democracy.

Standard 4D: The student understands events that celebrate and exemplify fundamental values and principles of American democracy.

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will identify the Marquis de Lafayette's contributions during the American Revolution by reading and highlighting primary and secondary sources about the Marquis's Grand Tour of the U.S. and Alabama in 1825 ELA2015(4)11.

Students will work in groups to highlight dates, places, people, and events of his time in Alabama (ELA2015(4)12; SS2010(4)6.

Each student will create a timeline and annotate the events with information derived from the documents. The timelines will be appropriately illustrated. ELA2015(4)11,12; SS2010(4)6

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will apply information learned from primary and secondary sources by summarizing events that took place during Marquis de Lafayette's Grand Tour. Annotations will be added to student timelines of the Alabama visit. Students will construct timelines and illustrate them with designs appropriate for early 19th century rural Alabama scenery, places, people, clothing, and celebratory items.

Blooms Taxonomy - Apply and Create

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

A copy of Lafayette's Visit to Alabama from the Encyclopedia of Alabama for each student

A copy of Lafayette Visit Receipt for each small group

A copy of photographs of Lafayette's tour (see attachment) for teacher to display

A sheet of legal size paper for each student



Colored Pencils

Technology Resources Needed:

Document camera to display the documents for discussion, if available

Smartboard to display examples of timelines for discussion, if available

Laptops for students to research the Grand Tour and appropriate Alabama sites for illustrations, if available. Students may also use the website to calculate the value of money in 1825 to the present. ($10 in 1825 is now worth over $247!)



Students should be familiar with Lafayette's role in the American Revolution and the importance of his influence in procuring France's financial and military assistance. Marquis de la Lafayette was invited by President James Monroe to make a grand tour of the 24 United States in 1824. He arrived in Staten Island, New York on August 15, 1824. The tour was an attempt to remind Americans of the "Spirit of 1776" and honor Lafayette for his role in the American Revolution. Alabama Governor Israel Pickens issued a formal invitation to Lafayette in December, 1824.

Teachers and students

See Encyclopedia of Alabama article for further information about Lafayette's life between the American Revolution, his return to America 50 years later, and his tour of the US and his days in Alabama.

See attached bibliography for more information of the U.S. Grand Tour.



  • Review why and how timelines are used. (history and science textbooks, Facebook, baby books, biographies, etc). They show the reader how things, events, or people change over time. Project timelines can help people know how to manage time to achieve a goal. 
  • Display examples of timelines from a document camera or interactive whiteboard, if possible, and discuss how much information can be learned from the different timelines. Some timelines are annotated (added information in captions) and others are only dates and events. Which are more useful for students to learn from?
  • Review background information about the Marquis de Lafayette: volunteering to serve in the American Army for free, his young age (19), his influence with France, his role with General Washington, his Revolutionary battle losses and wins.
  • Explain to the students that they will be creating an annotated timeline to explain about Lafayette's tour of Alabama 50 years after the Revolution ended.
  • Assign students to work in small groups


  • Distribute the Encyclopedia of Alabama's article about Lafayette's Grand Tour.
  • The teacher should read aloud the first 3 paragraphs, discussing the background of Lafayette's role in the Revolution and his years back in France.
  • Allow students to read the remaining text in small groups, while highlighting dates, events, and people involved.
  • Discuss any vocabulary as needed.
  • When most have finished reading and highlighting, allow time for a class discussion about Lafayette's time in Alabama.
  • If time and technology are available, allow students to search for information about Lafayette's Grand Tour in other states. The additional information may be helpful as a comparison to Alabama's celebration. 
  • Display the photographs that illustrate the places that still remain that were visited and discuss the events that occurred at each one. Photographs are located in the Attachments section.
  • Display the receipt of the Lafayette celebration and discuss the huge expense to the Alabama government. Is anything on the list surprising? Explain why some items are necessary, like all the pickled food. Are the prices unusual? How would they compare today? If possible, use the website to compare money from 1825 to the present.
  • Remind students of the life in rural, lower Alabama in the early 1800's. Who would be a part of the tour? (townspeople, land owners, slaves?) How would they dress? What transportation would be available to them? What political leaders would Lafayette meet? What roles would slaves and Native Americans play in the tour? How would the Alabama tour be different than other states he visited?
  • Distribute the legal size paper and have the students draw a line down the center of the paper, lengthwise.
  • Ask the students to give the dates and events that were highlighted. (Teacher may write them on the board or under document camera.)
  • Model how to add the dates to create a timeline (using a document camera or on the board). Be sure to spread out the dates enough to annotate them.
  • Allow students time to complete the timeline and annotate each date with a brief summary of each event.
  • Illustrate appropriately and add a title.


  • Remind students that annotations and illustrations should reflect life in rural, lower Alabama in the early 1800's. 
  • Encourage students to include information and illustrations that reflect Lafayette and the entourage, townspeople that Lafayette may have met, a farmer, a political leader, a Creek Indian, and a slave or servant. Each would have had a different perspective. 
  • Allow students to share a few annotations as examples of successful summaries.
  • Compare Lafayette's visit to Alabama to one that a dignitary from Europe might get today. How would the people involved, events and supplies be different?

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Assessment Strategies


  • Students should be able to discuss their reading of the text.
  • Students should appropriately highlight dates and events of the tour of Alabama.


  • Completed annotated timelines should include the dates, places, and people involved in the tour of Alabama in April 1825.
  • Annotations should include details from the text and should reflect life in early nineteenth-century Alabama.


Students may choose to research the year-long tour of Lafayette. Create an annotated timeline of the tour of the 24 states.

Students may choose to research Lafayette's visit with other Revolutionary dignitaries, such as Thomas Jefferson, Martha Washington, and relatives of other Revolutionary officers.

See additional reading attachment.


Students may work in pairs or small groups to complete one timeline.

The teacher may pre-select vocabulary for the reading.

The teacher may pre-select the events to annotate on the timeline, or have the dates and events available for the students to cut and paste on a timeline.

The students may illustrate the timeline or select images to print and paste onto the timeline.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.