Abigail Adams
Age 12-14: Concept 1 - Semester 1: Unit 1

This unit focuses on the life of Abigail Adams (1744-1818), wife to President John Adams and the mother of President John Quincy Adams. In this unit, you will learn about the many letters she wrote to her husband that provide great insight into this time in American history. You will also read about the roles she played as an adviser to her husband, a defender of women's rights, and a voice against slavery. Aside from the historical knowledge you will gain, you will also study new vocabulary, learn about the parts of a research essay, practice using active vs. passive voice, and discover the differences among literary genres.

For the final project, you will take on the role of Abigail Adams or President John Adams by creating a one-person play to teach others about this period in history. This living history presentation can be combined with the Revolution social studies unit to create a larger final project performance.


  • Able to read and comprehend novels at an 8th or 9th grade reading level
  • Able to write multiple paragraphs on a topic
  • Can write a five-paragraph essay
  • Usually used by children in the eighth grade

Table of Contents

  • Lesson 1: Getting to Know Abigail Adams
  • Lesson 2: John and Abigail Adams
  • Lesson 3: Unrest and War
  • Lesson 4: Continental Congress
  • Lesson 5: Remember the Ladies
  • Lesson 6: Separation
  • Lesson 7: Education
  • Lesson 8: Genre
  • Lesson 9: The Vice Presidency
  • Lesson 10: Presidential Politics
  • Lesson 11: Later Life
  • Lesson 12: Remembering Abigail Adams
  • Final Project: A One-Person Play (3 Days)

Summary of Skills

Moving Beyond the Page is based on state and national standards. These standards are covered in this unit.
  • Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general, academic, and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression. (Language Arts)
  • Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept. (Language Arts)
  • By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently. (Language Arts)
  • Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies. (Language Arts)
  • Differentiate between paraphrasing and plagiarism and identify the importance of using valid and reliable sources. (Language Arts)
  • Explain the function of verbals (gerunds, participles, infinitives) in general and their function in particular sentences. (Language Arts)
  • Form and use verbs in the active and passive voice. (Language Arts)
  • Form and use verbs in the indicative, imperative, interrogative, conditional, and subjunctive mood. (Language Arts)
  • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Language Arts)
  • Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood. (Language Arts)
  • Record bibliographic information (e.g., author, title, page number) for all notes and sources according to a standard format. (Language Arts)
  • Understand the idea of genre in literature, including adventure stories, historical fiction, mysteries, myths, science fiction, realistic fiction, allegories, parodies, satire, and graphic novels. (Language Arts)
  • Use subject-verb agreement and verb tense that are appropriate for the meaning of the sentence. (Language Arts)
  • Use verbs in the active and passive voice and in the conditional and subjunctive mood to achieve particular effects (e.g., emphasizing the actor or the action; expressing uncertainty or describing a state contrary to fact). (Language Arts)
  • Utilize elements that demonstrate the reliability and validity of the sources used (e.g., publication date, coverage, language, point of view) and explain why one source is more useful and relevant than another. (Language Arts)
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