Lincoln on Smithsonian’s History Explorer: “A Letter to Mr. Lincoln” Activities

January 15, 2009

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is adding six new educational activities related to Abraham Lincoln to “Smithsonian’s History Explorer.” Each of the new activities relates to the children’s book “Mr. Lincoln’s Whiskers” by Karen Winnick (1996, Boyds Mills Press). “Mr. Lincoln’s Whiskers” tells the story of an 11-year-old girl who convinced Lincoln to grow a beard. The activities encourage readers to go beyond the words of the book by reading actively, creating crafts, taking a field trip, creating a comic strip about Lincoln or other thought-provoking projects. The activities can be found here.

The museum, in partnership with Verizon’s, launched “Smithsonian’s History Explorer” in September 2008. This education Web site offers free, standards-based, innovative resources for teaching and learning American history. “Smithsonian’s History Explorer” was developed under the guidance of a teacher advisory group and made possible by a grant from the Verizon Foundation. The site is accessible at and via

The Lincoln activities are designed to work best with children ages kindergarten to fourth grade. They are intended for use by children at home with their parents, in classrooms with their teachers, or during afterschool programs. Each activity comes with two versions of directions, one specifically geared towards parents and one for professional educators. These materials were released as a part of the on-going OurStory program, which encourages adults and children to engage with history through children’s literature. The National Museum of American History launched the OurStory program in 1998 as a series of events hosted at the museum. Today, it lives on the OurStory Web site.

All of the materials are made available to teachers, parents, students, and others via the Internet and are searchable through “Smithsonian’s History Explorer” and The Verizon Foundation’s Web site. is the Verizon Foundation’s comprehensive program and online portal to more than 55,000 standards-based, grade-specific, K-12 lesson plans and other educational resources provided in partnership with many of the nation’s leading educational and literacy organizations, including the National Museum of American History.

In addition to providing standards-based resources from the nation’s leading educational and literacy organizations, also offers a comprehensive professional development program that allows teachers to sign up for free online or face-to-face training to learn how to make the most of tools.

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its signature program,, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence. In 2007, the foundation awarded more than $67.4 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $25.1 million in combined contributions. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation’s largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 3 million hours of community service since Verizon’s inception in 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit