Activity 1: If
Poor Richard Had a Computer
As a prolific writer and publisher, Franklin is probably
best known for Poor Richards Almanack.
Using research tools on the Internet and in the library,
students will explore the origins and history of almanacs
and learn about standard features of historic, as well
as current, almanacs. Students work in cooperative groups
to share their knowledge and to create a web-based “e-zine”
Activity 2: Calling
Benjamin Franklin’s practicality combined with his
strong sense of duty made him a model of good citizenship.
For example, he founded the first public library and
helped organize volunteer fire-fighting clubs and
a public hospital in his hometown of Philadelphia.
In this activity, students identify a need in their
community and then plan a project to address the need.
This activity will encourage students to work in groups
and to volunteer time in their community.
Activity 3: New and
Franklin has been called the “patron saint of advertising”
because he used the media of his time—newspapers,
broadsides, letters, pamphlets, and word-of-mouth—to
sell products and ideas. Students explore some of
the advertising methods used in colonial times and
compare those techniques to modern advertising.
Activity 4: Meet
Like many of his contemporaries, Ben Franklin used
pseudonyms for some of the letters and essays he published.
Each of these noms de plum had a distinct personality
and were written from a unique point of view. Students
learn about Franklin’s pseudonyms, create pseudonyms
for themselves, and write letters or essays from the
point of view of their invented persona.
Activity 5: Being
Throughout his life, Benjamin Franklin tried to find
ways to improve himself intellectually, morally, and
physically. Students research and learn about some
of the self-improvement methods that Franklin designed
or employed, and then create and follow their own
Activity 6: Superstition
Franklin’s scientific understanding was limited by
the collective knowledge of the period, much of which
was based on superstition, religion, and folk wisdom.
Students study some of the common scientific theories
of the colonial period, compare those ideas and theories
to what we know today, and report their findings.
Activity 7: Invention
Many of Franklin’s scientific inventions came out
of his ability to see a need or problem and then come
up with a solution. Sometimes he made improvements
on other people’s inventions. Students become inventors
by identifying a problem or need, and inventing a
Activity 8: Hit ’em
with a Broadside
In the colonial period, “broadsides” provided inexpensive
information and entertainment to the masses, like
television, radio, and the Internet do today. Broadsides
were a single sheet of paper that generally contained
print on one side only. Students research the history
of broadsides and create a broadside of their own,
satirizing or commenting upon some local or current
all eight lesson plans.