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Free History Studies: Benjamin Franklin {Part 1}

Free History Studies: Benjamin Franklin {Part 1}

Free History Studies: Benjamin Franklin {Part 1}

Benjamin Franklin was an avid learner, teaching himself a wide variety of subjects by reading and observation.

There are five chapters covering Benjamin Franklin.  For our purposes, we will divide them up into two parts: Part 1 is an introduction, and Part 2 covering his experiments.  Depending on the amount of time you have and the age of your children, you may want to cover the chapters in five different lessons.

Read the current chapter online: “Franklin His Own Teacher”

  • Map the following (you’ll find mapping resources below):
    • Massachusetts
    • Boston, Massachusetts (where Franklin was born)
    • Pennsylvania
    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Benjamin Franklin started out cutting wicks for candles.  Learn more about candle-making, and make your own dipped candles. (Scroll down to “Make Candles or Soap.”)
  • Franklin read Pilgrim’s Progress and liked it so well he bought all the stories by the same man, John Bunyan.  Learn more about John Bunyan.
  • Think about the statement, “Some things people learn out of books, and some things they have to see for themselves.”  Use a graphic organizer to make a list of things you are likely to learn from books, those you are likely to learn by watching, and those where you might do both.
  • The author gives three reason why Benjamin Franklin learned so much. Use Drawing & Writing Paper to list and illustrate each reason.
  • Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography is famous.  Try writing your own autobiography.
  • Franklin helped established the first fire-fighting club in Philadelphia.  If you have time, learn about fire safety.
  • Older students might want to work a few “magic squares” — math problems where rows and columns of integers are arranged so that the horizontal, vertical and diagonal sums are the same.  You’ll find magic square resources below.
  • More about Benjamin Franklin from the Book of Knowledge:

    He was born in Boston in 1706, the fifteenth child and the tenth son of his father. His father was a poor candle-maker, but the boy became a printer under his brother. They could not agree, and when seventeen years old the boy ran away and found work in Philadelphia.He spent some time in London, but returned to Philadelphia, opened a shop of his own, bought a newspaper and became a prominent citizen. Through him the police and fire departments, a library and an academy were organized. He invented a stove which used less coal than others to heat a room….Franklin was postmaster of Philadelphia for a time, and later Postmaster-General for all the colonies. He formed a plan of union for the colonies, which was not adopted, however; went to England to represent Pennsylvania, and remained there as the representative of all the colonies.He helped to draw up the Declaration of Independence, was sent to France to persuade the French to help the colonies gain their liberty and succeeded in getting money, arms and men. His simple manners and his wit made him a favorite in Paris. He was at the head of the government of Pennsylvania for three years, and helped to make the Constitution of the United States.He died in 1790, after a busy and useful life.”Some American Statesmen,” The Book of Knowledge

Further Investigation

Benjamin Franklin in a Nutshell
(You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)

Benjamin Franklin, the Printer
Biography for kids from the Library of Congress.

Benjamin Franklin, the Writer
Another aspect of Franklin’s life for kids from the Library of Congress.

Simple timeline of Franklin’s life at Ben’s Guide.


Colonial Tri-Corner Hat
Youngsters might enjoy making an era-appropriate hat to wear while studying Franklin with this template at the Franklin Institute.

Benjamin Franklin’s Order of the Day
Use this template at to create your own (scroll down)!

Dangerous Journey: Free Video
Based on the illustrated book subtitled The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress.

Massachusetts Map/Quiz Printout

Pennsylvania Map/Quiz Printout

Interactive Map Maker {Free}
Make your own maps.


Benjamin Franklin by Ingri & Edgar d’Aulaire
Wonderfully illustrated first biography from a family-favorite series.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin: Young Printer by Augusta Stevenson
From a favorite author, part of the Childhood of Famous Americans series and perfect second biography.

“Boyhood of Franklin”
Chapter from A First Book in American History also by Eggleston.  Also, read the next chapter “Franklin, the Printer.”  Includes narration prompts.

Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia

Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia by Margaret Cousins
The Landmark Books are always highly sought after, and this title lives up to the expected quality.

“How Benjamin Franklin Came to Philadelphia”
Chapter from This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall.

“Benjamin Franklin”
Chapter from volume XI of the Beacons Light of History series that focuses on Franklin as a statesman.  For older readers.

Pilgrim’s Progress in Words of One Syllable by Mary Godolphin
Abridged version for younger readers in the public domain.

Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
A favorite illustrated version.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Benjamin Franklin Teacher’s Guide
Lesson plan at PBS with eight activities covering the various aspects of Franklin’s life.

Benjamin Franklin and the Constitution
Lesson plan from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services where students learn about Benjamin Franklin’s role in history while also learning about the Constitution.  The Benjamin Franklin Handouts and an Answer Key are also available.

Ben Franklin: What a Character
Lesson plan exploring Franklin’s leadership qualities.

Taking a Page From Franklin
Lesson from the Smithsonian focusing on Franklin’s writing.

Objects as Self
Using the portrait shown at the top of this page, students learn how the objects in the portrait help to define the subject.

Lesson Plan — Benjamin Franklin and Life
Lesson plan focusing on his writings in Poor Richard’s Almanac in the context of giving.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

United States Map
At for locating Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Massachusetts State Map
Map for notebook, helpful for locating Boston.

Pennsylvania Map
Map for notebook, helpful for locating Philadelphia.

Benjamin Franklin Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the complete series:
Free History Studies: Stories of Great Americans
Free History Studies: Stories of Great Americans

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