Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson Extension Activities & Project Ideas

Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson is a powerful and engaging book about the American Civil War and the Lincoln Assassination, perfect for grades 4-6.  The following is a list of suggestions for projects that can be used during or after reading to engage your students and deepen students' understanding of the themes presented in the book.  Activities can also be used as final assessment, extra credit, or as supplemental activities to go along with the book study.

For more resources for Chasing Lincoln's Killer, check out: 
Chasing Lincoln's Killer Civil War Informational Article & Questions
Chasing Lincoln's Killer Glossary of Terms, Vocabulary, Context Clues Activity
Chasing Lincoln's Killer Reading Quiz & Open Book Comprehension & Analysis Test
Chasing Lincoln's Killer Research Paper Project, Cause & Effect Text Analysis

Here's a handy list of ideas for helping students gain a fuller understanding and more in-depth study of this important time in American History!

  • Have students find out more about where Lincoln's assassination happened. Go on a Virtual Tour of Ford’s Theater or a Video Tour of Ford’s Theater.
  • Mary Surratt was often depicted as the central link among the conspirators. Was she the central link or did she become caught up in something larger than she intended? Have students visit the website to learn more.
  • Learn more about the route that Booth took out of the city and see what these places are like today. Go to  Download the ChasingLincoln’sKiller.kmz file and open it in Google Earth. This will take you on a tour of the places mentioned in the book.
  • Have students create an interactive digital timeline of the events in this book. Use,, or
  • Have students create an illustrated timeline of the events in this book. Illustrations should be used to help tell the story of events in the order in which they occurred.
  • Read the poem O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman to/in the class. This poem was written by Whitman after Lincoln’s death. After reading the poem, have students write a paragraph explaining Whitman’s view of Lincoln.
  • Have students read or listen to the Gettysburg address. Discuss the meaning of it at the time and analyze why it is still so powerful today.  Engage students in a whole class discussion of the meaning and how the message is still relevant today.
  • Explore Matthew Brady’s photographs from the Civil War.  Students can create a collage or a bulletin board to display for the class.
  • Lincoln actually signed the act authorizing the Secret Service on the day he was assassinated. But the Secret Service was not used to protect the president until the early 1900s. Have students research the history of the Secret Service and present a short PowerPoint detailing what they have learned.

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