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Abigail & John Online Curriculum Lesson Plans and Activities Compiled by Dr. Neme Alperstein

Dr. Neme Alperstein, Teacher of Gifted and Talented Students in the New York City Public School system since 1987, compiled the teaching tools that accompany Abigail & John, the children’s history book. This list was shared on TPS Teachers Network.

The recent publication of Abigail & John by David Bruce Smith, illustrations by renowned American artist Clarice Smith, is one I highly recommend for young readers and teachers. As a very well developed educational online resource, this resonates when it comes to teaching American history. See the resources below along with podcasts that have been developed to accompany the book.

This is the story of America’s power couple, Abigail and John Adams. In this book we see Abigail’s impact on her husband’s role in history. The relationship is collaborative giving a long overdue nod to the woman behind (and often in front of) the man. Clarice Smith’s illustrations show just how important art is in telling a story, and the artwork adds a dimension of strength as well as beauty to the narrative.

The accompanying online curriculum lesson plans and activities across content areas are prescient for the learning mode of our times. It includes professional development introduced by California teacher Sara Garza (Teaching With Abigail & John). Below are the various links to those resources guiding educators and students who read the book. David Bruce Smith, both an author and publisher, established the Grateful American Book Foundation to support learning about American history through stories. The foundation holds an annual competition, The Grateful American Book Prize, for newly published books on American history geared towards young readers.

Curriculum Activities

Podcasts – Interviews with the Author for a possible author study

Grateful American Book Home Page

  •  with links to podcasts and curriculum materials
  • Teaching Abigail & John – California teacher Sara Garza speaks to teachers with ideas to implement using the book. This lends itself beautifully to the online remote teaching mode (although no one could have anticipated this).

Curriculum for Download

Content Areas

Reading Activities (pages 3–4)

  • Venn Diagram: Students will compare and contrast topics and people related to Abigail and John Adams, using a Venn diagram.
  • Close Reading: In this literacy-based activity, students will perform close reading of the text by using sticky notes to annotate it. They will then answer questions and complete a challenge.

Social Studies Activities (pages 5–8)

  • The Letters of Abigail & John: In this primary source-driven activity, students will locate and read an actual letter written by Abigail and/or John and answer questions about the letter.
  • .Historical Timeline: Students will use the major events in the lives of Abigail and John to create an in-depth historical timeline.
  • Modern-Day Comparison: Students complete a graphic organizer in which they compare and contrast a modern-day influential couple with Abigail and John.
  • Let’s Talk!: Students will write and perform a talk-show skit featuring Abigail and John Adams.

STEM Activities (pages 9–11)

  • With WiFi: What if WiFi were available in the past? In this imaginative activity, students are asked to create social media profiles for Abigail or John Adams.
  • Spy Games: In this engineering-inspired activity, students are challenged to design a device that will transmit top-secret information during the Revolutionary War.
  • The Cost of War: Wartime often results in an increase in prices for everyday necessities. In this activity, students are faced with the challenge of cutting their modern-day expenses in half.

Art Activities (pages 12–15)

  • All About the Art: What makes the book Abigail & John so unique is its beautiful and inspirational art created by world-renowned artist Clarice Smith. This activity directs students to study the art and answer questions about it.
  • Commemorative Stamp: For today’s students, stamps may seem like relics of the past. In this activity, students will use their creative skills to design a commemorative stamp for Abigail and John.
  • Museum Display: In this hands-on activity, students will use clay to create a bust of either Abigail or John. They will then write a detailed description of their bust to accompany the piece in a museum.
  • Historical Monument: What better way to honor two of history’s most celebrated figures than with a historical monument? In this activity, students are faced with the challenge of creating a historical monument for Abigail and John worthy of the ages.

Assessments (pages 16–19)

  • Multiple-Choice Quiz: Assess student knowledge with this multiple-choice quiz.
  • Short-Answer Assessment: Allow students to use the book with this assessment. This way, students can cite specific evidence from the text when providing answers to the questions.
  • Crossword Puzzle: Looking for a fun and creative way to assess student comprehension? Look no further than this crossword puzzle based on information from the text.

The podcast page includes the Instructional Video for Teachers and Parents to Use in Conjunction with Abigail & John.

The podcasts are interviews with the author, David Bruce Smith. Each interview is quite different from the next examining the presidential power couple (Abigail & John), and offering insights into the author and his motivations for writing what is the first of a series of books on power couples in the White House. Renowned American artist Clarice Smith is the artistic collaborator whose illustrations contribute a beautiful tone to the text.  Each link below takes you to the interview from a particular historical institution. David Bruce Smith shares personal stories, his biography and who he embarked on becoming a writer. They are perfect for an author study.


Below are details of each podcast and the institution conducting the interview with the author:

  • The New York Historical SocietyIt took a Long Time for Abigail and John Adams to secure a place in history. Now, what?February 26, 2020 – Podcast with Louise Mirrer, President & CEO of New-York Historical Society, and author David Bruce Smith to learn more about Abigail & John and their times.
  • National Museum of Women in the ArtsIllustrating a Historical Partnership: Abigail and John Adams February 24, 2020 — In an interview with National Museum of Women in the Arts, David Bruce Smith discussed the genesis of the book, Abigail & John, and his creative partnership with his mother, renowned painter Clarice Smith, who created the book’s illustrations.Transcript of the Interview:
  • Arena on AirAbigail Adams warned her husband, “Remember the Ladies” Did She Foresee the Suffrage Movement? Molly Smith, Artistic Director at Arena Stage, and Author David Bruce Smith, Ponder it
  • National Council for History EducationHave We Deviated From John Adams’s Vision for Education, or Is the System too Sick to Fix? February 3, 2020 – Author David Bruce Smith interviews Grace Leatherman, Executive Director, National Council for History Education.
  • Advancement of the Supreme Court SocietyMartha Meehan-Cohen, Director of Advancement of the Supreme Court Historical Society, and David Bruce Smith, author of Abigail & John, on John Marshall, George Washington, and John Adams January 20, 2020 – In this interview, Martha Meehan-Cohen and David Bruce Smith talk about George Washington and John Adams’s uneasy alliance, but their mentoring of John Marshall, propelled him to Chief Justice–and durable greatness. Listen to the podcast.
  • George Washington (GW) TodaEnsuring That History Isn’t Just His Story January 9, 2020 — George Washington Today interviewed author David Bruce Smith about “Abigail & John,” the inaugural book in the Grateful American Book Series. Clarice Smith, a world-renowned artist and the author’s mother, illustrated the book.
  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
    Alex Nyerges, Director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Author David Bruce Smith, Discuss Art in StorytellingDecember 22, 2019 — They talked about the ways in which paintings and drawings stimulate children to understand their heritage, and America’s, as well.
  • The Constitutional Sources ProjectDecember 17, 2019 – ConSource Executive Director Julie Silverbrook speaks with David Bruce Smith, author of the children’s history book, Abigail & John.
  • The French-American Cultural FoundationAuthor David Bruce Smith and French-American Cultural Foundation’s Debra Dunn discuss Abigail & John November 26, 2019  – The conversation focused on the history of the nation, presidency of John Adams, the relationship between France and America over the centuries, and how to raise informed citizens who understand our history: its successes and failures.
  • The Grateful American Foundation
    Abigail & John Entertains and Educates Young Readers about American History ,November 19, 2019 – Online Curriculum Guides Enhance the Teaching and Learning ExperienceThe Library of Congress has vast resources to learn more about John Adams. (John Adams: A Resource Guide)
  • Maryland Humanities
  • American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA)
  • BookMarketingBuzzBlog


Abigail & John

David Bruce Smith-Clarice Smith – Liberty Bell Press is an imprint of Pike and Powder Publishing Group LLC – 2019

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