Barack Obama


In our Barack Obama lesson plan, students learn about the life and accomplishments of President Barack Obama. Students learn about his early life, his actions as President, and about his lasting impact on the United States and the world as a whole.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to invite a historian to speak to your class about the Obama presidency.

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What our Barack Obama lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Barack Obama introduces students to the first African-American President of the United States. The lesson includes a detailed biography, including his early years, the path through the political landscape to his election as the 44th President, and other interesting facts about Obama. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify Barack Obama a the first African-American U.S. President, list facts about his life, and discuss his significance in history. This lesson is for students in 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the orange box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The supplies you will need for this lesson are paper, scissors, glue, colored pencils, tape, markers, Internet access, and the handouts. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can pair students for the activity, gather the supplies, and copy the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. Some optional adjustments to the lesson activity are to change the years that students use on their timelines and assign different years to different pairs of students, combining the various timelines into one central class timeline. You can also have students research specific elections and people in Obama’s life and present their findings to the class. An optional addition to this lesson is to invite a historian to speak to your class about the Obama presidency.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Barack Obama

The Barack Obama lesson plan includes five content pages. The lesson begins by telling students that Barack Obama was the first African-American President of the United States. He became the 44th President on January 20, 2009, and served two terms. Obama was a member of the Democratic party. During his first election, he defeated Hillary Clinton in the primaries and John McCain in the general election on November 4, 2008. He defeated McCain with an electoral majority of 365 to 173. He also won the popular vote with 53%.

Early Years

Obama was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His mother was named Ann Dunham and his father was named Barack Obama, Sr. Obama did not have a relationship with his father growing up and his parents separated when he was two years old, divorcing in 1964. His mother remarried in 1965 and the family moved to Jakarta, Indonesia. They sent Obama back to Hawaii at age 10 to live with his maternal grandparents. His half-sister and mother joined him in Hawaii later.


Obama went to a school called Punahou Academy and played basketball, graduating in 1979 with academic honors. At that time, he was one of only three African American students at the school and that experience made him more conscious of racism and its effects. The racism that he faced in school was hard for him. Additionally, his father died in a car crash when Obama was 21, so this time in his life was difficult in many ways.

After high school, Obama spent two years at Occidental College in Los Angeles before transferring to Columbia University in New York. He graduated with a degree in political science from Columbia in 1983. After he graduated, he worked in the private sector and then moved to Chicago in 1985, where he worked as a community organizer.

Next, he took some time to live in Kenya before returning to the U.S. to attend Harvard Law School in 1988. Obama was a great student. During his first year of law school, he met Michelle Robinson, his future wife, at a law firm where she was already working as a lawyer. She was his advisor throughout law school. In 1990, Obama became the first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review, an important law journal. He graduated in 1991.


Obama moved back to Chicago after law school and became a civil rights lawyer. He also taught part-time at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. During Bill Clinton’s 1992 Presidential campaign, Obama helped organize voters. He and Michelle married on October 3, 1994. They later had two daughters together, Malia and Sasha.

Obama published a memoir in 1995 titled Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. This book, combined with his political advocacy work, led him to run for office in the Illinois State Senate. He won this election in 1996. During his time as a state senator, he worked with Republicans and Democrats to draft legislation on social issues like health care services.

Next, he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and lost. However, he didn’t gave up and ran for U.S. Senate in 2004. At this time, he spoke out against the Iraq War and George Bush. He won his Senate race in 2004, defeating Alan Keyes, who was a formed presidential candidate. He was only the third African American to be elected to the U.S. Senate since reconstruction.

He announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in early 2007, after he published a second book titled Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. In this book, he outlined he vision for the future of the United States, which became the structure of his presidential campaign. He defeated John McCain on November 4, 2008 and became the 44th President of the United States. His Vice President was Joe Biden, a senator from Delaware.

President Barack Obama

When Barack Obama became President in January 2009, the United States was facing a global economic recession, two wars, and a low international favorability rating. Obama’s campaign focused on making changes with financial reform, alternative energy, education, healthcare, and lowering the national debt. The lesson closes with a timeline of highlights from Obama’s two terms in office.

2009 – 2010

On January 22, 2009, Obama signed an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay was a U.S. military prison located in Cuba where people who may be national threats to the U.S. were detained. Despite this order, the prison remained open after he left office.

On January 29, 2009, he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was his first bill. It helped people challenge unequal pay complaints and helped close the wage gap between men and women.

On January 17, 2009, he signed the American and Reinvestment Act of 2009. He signed this into law to help save and create jobs. It helped people affected by the economic crisis of 2008-2009.

On May 26, 2009, he appointed his first Supreme Court Justice, federal judge Sonia Sotomayor. They confirmed her in August and took over for Justice David Souter.

On October 9, 2009, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

On March 30, 2010, he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We also call this law Obamacare. It reworked the U.S. healthcare system, leading to an increase in the quality, affordability, and access to healthcare for people in the U.S.

On April 4, 2010, he announced a reduction of nuclear arms with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). This reduced the stockpile of nuclear weapons by the U.S. and Russia.

On May 10, 2010, he appointed another Supreme Court Justice, Solicitor General Elena Kagan. They confirmed her in August and took over for Justice Paul Stevens.

On July 7, 2010, Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This meant that regulators had a stronger authority over large banks and protecting consumers in relation to loans and credit cards.

On December 17, 2010, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2012 became law. This act extended tax cuts from the early 2000s, helping promote the economy.

2011 and Beyond

On May 11, 2011, the U.S. military killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, in Pakistan.

On November 6, 2012, Obama defeated Mitt Romney and won a second term as president. He beat Romney with 332 electoral votes and 51% of the popular vote.

On June 25, 2013, Obama announced the Climate Action Plan to lower carbon pollution. He intended this to help prepare for global climate change.

On November 20, 2014, he announced the use of executive power to allow undocumented immigrants to the U.S. to stay and obtain work.

On March 20, 2016, Obama visited Cuba, becoming the first sitting U.S. President to do so.

On January 20, 2017, Obama left office but continued to live in Washington, D.C.

These are just some of the things that Obama did while serving his two terms in office as President. We will remember him for being the first African American President of the United States, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, his visit to Cuba, and his Affordable Care Act. During his time in office, people gave him the nickname “No Drama Obama” because of his patience and relaxed demeanor.


The Barack Obama lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


Students will work in pairs to complete this activity. Each pair will create a timeline of Obama’s life. They will cut out the year labels, and do additional research for each year as necessary. They’ll tape together different sheets of paper to create their timelines, and will make sure to spread the years out in intervals that make sense. Each pair should includes images, drawings, and words for each point on the timeline.

Students can work either alone or in groups for this activity if you’d prefer.


For the practice worksheet, students will complete three short exercises. For the first, they will place some events from Obama’s life in order. And for the second, they will identify who various people are in his life. Finally, for the third, they will write down the significance of various numbers as they relate to Barack Obama.


The homework assignment asks students to answer 20 questions about Barack Obama’s life, based on the lesson material.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and the homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


Biography, Social Studies


3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade

State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, LB.ELALiteracy.RI.5.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.3

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Rochelle B.

Barack Obama

My students love the lessons I have used from Clarendon Learning. Thank you for supporting teachers in this way.

Allyson N.


This is definitely perfect for my upper level 5th grade students. The reading has rigor and there is a big focus on vocabulary.