Preparing to Visit Val-Kill

Teacher should read the web site essay on Eleanor Roosevelt to get an understanding of who she was and to prepare for the following exercises.

LESSON ONE: Beginning of a Unit on Eleanor Roosevelt


  • To introduce ER to the class.
  • To explain key facts about the life and philosophy of ER.
  • To motivate the student to question and seek information about ER.
  • To see that ER had obstacles to overcome, not unlike the students themselves.


List on the blackboard the following key facts:
Abused Child, Orphan, Anorexic, Jailbird, Risk Taker, Japanese Advocate, TV Hostess, Journalist, First Lady (of New York, of the US, of the World), Contributor to charities, Human Rights Activist, Goodwill Ambassador, Political Leader. The items can be deleted or added to depending on the knowledge of the teacher.


Class discussion.

Students will ask questions to get an understanding of who ER was.

Assign a student to write facts on the blackboard or on newsprint, or students can take notes.


Gage the enthusiasm of the students by the number of questions and answers per individual.

Evaluate the list of facts on the blackboard or in the student's notebook.

LESSON TWO: Preparation for Visit to Val-Kill


  • To introduce the students to Civil Rights activist Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • To teach the Social Studies Overarching Concepts of Justice, Democracy, and Human Rights.
  • To reinforce the need for Diversity and Tolerance in the American society and throughout the world.


Students will read from Eleanor Roosevelt, A Life of Discovery, by Russell Freedman, New York: Scholastic Inc, 1993. Start at page 108 read to the end of page 113. They will also read ER's remarks "where do human rights begin?"

Either for homework or class work the students will complete the questions based on the reading.


The teacher will then lead a discussion on Eleanor Roosevelt, the Civil Rights Activist. The questions:

  1. What did ER say was one responsibility of government? Do you agree or disagree with her statement? Explain.
  2. Define the National Youth Administration (NYA)?
  3. ER believed that both poverty and racial prejudice enslaved Americans. Define this statement in your own words, and state your feelings about it.
  4. Describe two examples of non-violent protest used by ER to show her disapproval of segregation.
  5. Explain why many people disliked what ER was doing for African Americans during the 1930s.
  6. Explain why ER believed human rights began in "small places close to home."


The teacher could grade the questions for homework or a quiz could follow the completion and discussion of the material.

The teacher could develop a free writing experience for the students.

The teacher could ask the students to respond to the following: Relate a personal experience you know of when another's rights have been violated. Using the concept of empathy describe how you think ER would have handled the situation.


Read the "My Day" column of February 27, 1939.


LESSON THREE: Lesson for Visit to Val-Kill


  • To provide an activity that will give a focus and structure while visiting the site.
  • To personalize the Val-Kill experience.


Either at the home school or at Val-Kill, students should view the video, ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, FIRST LADY OF THE WORLD.

Students should identify what happened on the given date in the Eleanor Roosevelt Time Line.

Students will complete an activity packet following the tour but before the students leave the grounds. (Depending on the size of the group, students could sit on the pool deck or along the side of the pond or utilize the Visitors' Center in the Playhouse.)


The Timeline (to be altered by the teacher depending on the grade level of the students). All dates are found in the site video.
1884, 1892, 1894, 1899, 1902, 1905, 1910, 1913, 1921, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1933, 1936, December 7th, 1941, 1945, 1947, 1962.

The Val-Kill Activity Packet. (Note: These questions should be adapted for grade and ability levels. The following are sample questions.)

Val-Kill Cottage

List two ways that Val-Kill Cottage is like your home.

List two ways that Val-Kill Cottage is different from your home.

Name three famous visitors to Val-Kill.

Why do you believe ER thought the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was her greatest accomplishment?


Stone Cottage

List three Dutch Colonial characteristics of Stone Cottage.

General Questions about the Val-Kill Site.

ER loved Val-Kill. You can still feel her spirit here. If you had a chance to meet ER, what questions would you ask or what ideas would you discuss with her.

Senator Hillary Clinton remarked after visiting that she loved Val-Kill. Why do you think Mrs. Clinton felt that way?

What did you find memorable about your visit to Val-Kill?


Sketch something that you saw or learned today at Val-Kill that interests you. It may be a poster, a picture, an object, a scene, a part of a building or any combination of these. Please clearly identify what it is that you have sketched.



Activity Packet can be collected and graded.

A quiz can be developed from the facts and ideas covered while at the site.

ER is still the most admired woman of the twentieth century. Free write on ER as your role model.



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