Lesson One: Eleanor Roosevelt, Olivia's Friend

Grade Level: This is a curriculum for kindergarten teachers where Eleanor Roosevelt can be everywhere in the schoolroom. (9-week minimum; half year maximum)

book cover of Olivia Saves the Circusphoto: Eleanor raises her hands


  1. To introduce students to Eleanor Roosevelt the person.
  2. To introduce students to how she cared about people.


  1. To know Eleanor Roosevelt’s name.
  2. To know what she looked like.
  3. To know some basic good qualities about her.
  4. To learn three historical facts about ER, such as:
    Eleanor Roosevelt helped people; she lived in the White House; she traveled around the world; she wrote a lot of books; and her husband, Franklin, was President of the United States


  1. Read children’s biographies of Eleanor Roosevelt.
  2. Use questions and answers and storytelling techniques to talk about her life and activities.
  3. Show pictures of Eleanor Roosevelt engaged in various activities.
  4. Post pictures of Eleanor Roosevelt in the classroom on a weekly basis to remind students of who she was and what she did.
  5. Have children draw pictures of Eleanor and her activities that reflect her personality.


1. Read Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer (ISBN 0-689-8924-X, Atheneum 2001, $16.95).

  • After you have finished asking the students questions about the story, turn to page 3.
  • Hold the book open, point to the poster of Eleanor Roosevelt hanging on the wall and ask your class to talk about it. You might begin with:
  • “Look at this girls and boys, this is a real person. Is there any other real person in the book?”
  • “Wow she must be real important. If Olivia thinks she’s important, maybe we should too.”
  • “Why do you think she has her hands up?”
    [What do you think she is trying to do? Is she is trying to explain something?]
  • “Why does Olivia have a picture of Eleanor on her bedroom wall?”
    If the children don't respond, you might ask them “Do you think Olivia likes her? Do you think Olivia wants to be like her?”

2. Create a mural for your classroom.

Perhaps you could set the stage by telling your class “we can be like Olivia and have a picture of Eleanor in our classroom to remind us of who she was [a person who wanted to help people] and where she went [everywhere.]”

The mural of photos could either be placed on the classroom bathroom door or a special area of your classroom (perhaps the teacher's reading corner or a specific chalk board).

You could reinforce attention to Eleanor in a variety of ways.

For example, if one of the classroom rules is asking permission to use the bathroom have children say “I have to go see Eleanor.”

Each week add an additional picture on the door. Make this activity an important part of the Monday morning routine or have children draw pictures of Eleanor Roosevelt to put on the door.

You should use any pictures of ER who think appropriate for your classroom. You could even xerox pictures from books your school library may have about Eleanor Roosevelt. Or you may download the pictures included on this site.

The key is to use pictures of Eleanor Roosevelt doing something.

In each case the teacher could ask “Where is Eleanor Roosevelt?” “What is she doing?”

After the pictures are hung, the teacher could ask several questions:

“Tell me what we know about Eleanor Roosevelt.”

“If Eleanor Roosevelt were to visit us, what places in the school could we show her where she would want do some of the good things she does?”
[Lunchroom, our classroom, school library, school nurse’s clinic, school office, playground, school bus drop-off zone.]

“What would she be doing?”
[Serving lunch; taking care of classroom pets; reading to us; helping the school nurse to take care of sick children; helping with games on the playground; breaking up fights; greeting visitors and showing them around; helping someone who was lost find their way around school; helping someone learn to read; helping children get on and off the school bus.]

3. Art activity: Have children draw pictures of Eleanor Roosevelt

This educational program was prepared by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project with funding from the GE Fund through Save America's Treasures