ALEX Lesson Plan

Look Who's Coming to Dinner!

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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: 35114


Look Who's Coming to Dinner!


Students will read from an Alabama newspaper about President James Monroe's surprise visit to Huntsville. The article discusses the purposes of the visit, the locals who welcomed and entertained the President, and his discussion of current (1819) events.

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
10 ) Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. [RI.4.1]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.4.10- Answer who, what, when, and where questions to demonstrate understanding of an informational text.

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 Edition:

Standard 3E: The student understands the ideas that were significant in the development of the state and that helped to forge its unique identity.

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.

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

Primary Learning Objective(s):

The students will read a newspaper article about the surprise visit of President James Monroe to Huntsville, Alabama in early 1819. The students will gather information about the current events that led Monroe to the Alabama territory and the celebration that ensued. The students will write organized and informative statements about the details of visit, drawing evidence from the primary document.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will highlight a primary document to identify details of President Monroe's visit to Huntsville.

Students will include details in their writing that are specific to the time period and location of Monroe's visit.

Students will include details in their writing that reflect the political and cultural aspects of early Huntsville, as well as the modes of transportation and recreational activities common to the early 19th century.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

A copy of the Mississippi and Alabama territory map to display on document camera

A copy of "Huntsville President Visit" article from the Alabama Republican for each student

A copy of the transcript of the "Arrival of the President" article (see attachment) for each student

One page of copy paper for each student


Colored Pencils


Technology Resources Needed:

Document camera to display primary document, if available

Computers/laptops and printer for students to utilize to select and print portraits of President James Monroe, if available (one per student)


Students should be aware that President James Monroe was the fifth president of the United States and was in that role when Alabama joined the Union in 1819. Students should also be aware that Alabama was originally part of the Mississippi Territory and was re-named the Alabama Territory after Mississippi joined the Union in 1817.

Teachers may read additional information about Huntsville, Alabama's history from the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

Additional information about President Monroe's involvement in Alabama's history may be found in the attachments in Early Huntsville, AL Life.

The students will be creating a "sensory figure" which is an illustration that symbolizes President Monroe in the center of a sheet of paper with 5-7 descriptive sentences written around it. The sentences focus on what Monroe would have seen, heard, tasted, touched, did, smelled, etc. during the event.



  • Teacher should review the succession of American Presidents through 1819 and how many states were added to the Union.
  • Teacher should display The State of Mississippi and Alabama Territory map and discuss how and when Mississippi became a state and how the remaining territory was re-named Alabama.


  • Display the newspaper article Arrival of the President from the June 5, 1819 Alabama Republican.
  • Distribute copies of the newspaper article and the transcript.
  • Read and discuss the article.
  • Students should highlight details from the article that describe the main events of the President's visit. Pay particular attention to what the President said, saw, heard, smelled, tasted, felt, and did. Some actions may be inferred.
  • Distribute a sheet of copy paper to each student.
  • Allow students to draw a caricature, or something symbolic, of the President or print a portrait if available. The students may draw a symbol to represent the President, such as his name or monogram. Place the drawing/portrait in the center of the paper.
  • Around the edges of the caricature, write complete statements inferred or stated in the article that described what Monroe saw during his visit, said to the townspeople, tasted and smelled at the celebration, heard from the conversations, felt about the territory, and an action he performed (rode a horse, visited, planned, greeted, etc.).
  • Encourage students to write complete sentences with as much detail included as possible. (add a because...., then..., so.... to brief statements. Some ideas may be inferred.


  • Allow students to share ideas as they work to encourage creativity and praise complete statements.
  • Color "action bubbles" and Monroe illustration appropriately.
  • Title the illustration with an appropriate newspaper headline.
  • Allow students to share their work, using a document camera if available.


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Assessment Strategies


  • Students should discuss Monroe's visit to Huntsville and be able to recall main events and people that are mentioned in the article.
  • Students should highlight evidence that reflected the purpose and events of Monroe's visit and the current events of early 1819.


  • Students should write complete statements that include at least six of Monroe's sensory actions. Some actions may be inferred from the information in the text.
  • Students should write statements that reflect life in the Alabama territory and United States in early 1819.


Students may read the June 5, 1819 Alabama Republican and select another local or national citizen to complete a sensory figure.

Additional reading about President Monroe and Alabama's dignitaries and statehood may be found in the attachments.





The transcript of the newspaper article has provided definitions for pre-selected vocabulary. Provide more assistance for lower readers, if necessary.

Allow lower readers to work with students who are successful readers of primary documents.

Some students may work with a partner to complete the sensory figure.

Allow "artistic" students to assist students who may lack creative ideas for the illustration of Monroe's figure or symbol.

Clipart or online illustrations may be printed if the technology is available.

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.