Resources for Teaching the War of 1812

Wed 18 2012

Earlier this year, we looked at what historic sites were doing to celebrate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. But how can you teach the bicentennial in your classroom? has gathered together lesson plans, teaching strategies, online videos, websites featuring primary sources, quizzes, and other valuable resources on our War of 1812 spotlight page. With these resources, you can introduce your students to the perspectives of Canada, the U.S., Great Britain, and Native American peoples on the war, trace the history of our national anthem, and investigate the early days of the U.S. Navy.

But we aren't the only organization collecting and creating resources for the bicentennial! Find more materials to enhance your curriculum with these ideas:

  • Scour the Naval History and Heritage Command's collection of War of 1812 bicentennial resources. It may take a little exploration, but you'll find 19th-century artwork picturing the naval battles of the war, biographies of historical figures, event announcements, quick facts, and primary and secondary sources.
  • Download lesson plans from Fort McHenry, site of the battle that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "Defence of Fort McHenry" (more often called "The Star-Spangled Banner").
  • Find more lesson plans on the Friends of Fort McHenry website. Together with the National Park Service (NPS), the Friends developed curriculum for grades 4–8 on Fort McHenry and the War of 1812.
  • Explore the fort with a NPS Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan.
  • Peruse an 18-page guide to War of 1812-related teaching materials available on the Internet, collated by the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail.
  • Check out Maryland's downloadable War of 1812 resource guide, as well as their lesson plan directories featuring links to resources elsewhere on the Web.
  • Browse curriculum sources collected together by the U.S. Navy's official bicentennial page,
  • Head to sea with the USS Constitution Museum's A Sailor's Life for Me, an interactive experience for students set in the War of 1812. Enrich the experience with guidelines for teaching the war and more than 250 lesson plans.
  • Make cross-curricular connections with the lesson plans from All Hands on Deck!, another resource from the USS Constitution museum.
  • Read and analyze President James Madison's war message in a set of three lesson plans from EDSITEment.
  • Enhance understanding of the many ways people perceived the war with PBS's lesson plans designed to accompany the documentary The War of 1812.
  • Discover artifacts from the war at the Smithsonian Institution's History Explorer.
  • Compare images of the Capitol, burned by the British in 1814, using a lesson idea from the Library of Congress.

About the Author

Lara Harmon is a Senior Research Associate for She received her BA from George Mason University.