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The founding fathers stated in the Constitution that the President "shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." It wasn't spelled out HOW the president was to do this or even when such an update should be given. The State of the Union Address has taken many forms since the birth of our nation. It has come to be an annual speech given by the President of the United States and is done in the month of January. In 2018, the address will be given on January 30th.Learn about the history of the State of the Union Address with this internet activity so you can WOW your friends with all you know about the history of this yearly event!

  1. President George Washington gave the first annual speech in 1790. Which president stopped the annual speech? _____________ What was his reason for not doing the speech?________________________________For about one hundred years, presidents just sent an annual message in the form of a letter. In fact, some addresses were given to Congress by a clerk! Which president restarted the State of the Union Address? _____________Since, this President, the State of the Union has been a speech given before Congress each year. Find the answers at this link:

2. One member of the cabinet does not attend the State of the Union Address. Why?__________________________The identity of this "designated survivor" is kept a secret until the date of the speech. It is a secret as to where this person remains during the speech. Whydoes at least one representative of the opposing party NOT attend._________________________

3. Originally called the Annual Message, the term, "State of the Union Address" has been officially used since 1947. Which president gave the very first speech on television? _________________Who's speech was also broadcast on the internet for the first time?_________________ Who gave the shortest speech with only 1089 words?_______________Who gave the longest spoken speech, with 9190 words?______________________Which president(elected 4 times before the Constitution changed the length a person can be President to 2 terms) had the most speeches? _____________. How many State of the Union Addresses did he give?________ Find the answers at this link:

4. Presidents use the State of the Union Address to share what they feel they have accomplished or wish to accomplish in a given year. For example, President Truman used his State of the Union Address to announced measures to end discrimination against African Americans. Who spoke about his desire to end slavery in the USA?_____________Who shared their vision called the Monroe Doctrine? ______________ What did George W. Bush focus on during his speech? __________________ Find the answers at this link:

THERE are 10 web questions in the complete resource.

Did You Know?

1. Originally called the "Annual Message", it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who first used the phrase the "State of the Union" address. Interestingly, the words "State of the Union" appear in the U.S. Constitution.

2. Although there aren't assigned seats for the State of the Union Address, usually Senators sit on the sides and members of the House sit in the middle of the House chamber.

3. Benjamin Harrison didn't give a State of the Union Address as he was only president for 31 days. He caught a cold during his Inauguration Day ceremonies and died soon after. He was the first president to die while in office.The only other president to not give a State of the Union Address was James Garfield. He was assassinated.

4. During George Washington's first State of the Union Address,in 1790, he welcomed North Carolina into the union.

THERE are 8 Did You Know? facts in the complete resource.

Comprehension Questions:

  1. What is a designated survivor? How is a person selected for this task?
  2. Why do you think Presidents like to give a State of the Union Address to the Congress and nation?
  3. Why didn't President Harrison and President Garfield give a State of the Union address?

THERE are 6 Comprehension Questions in the complete resource>

Teacher Page:

Before giving the web quest activity to the students, ask if they have any prior knowledge about the history of the State of the Union Address.Share with students that the Capitol Building is NOT spelled the same as the capital city of each state.

Have groups of students do the internet activity and regroup and share the information that they learned.

THERE are 3 extension activities and the Key to both the webquesr and the comprehension questions.

Student Page:

Watch the State of the Union Address or hear about it on the news:

1. What are THREE things that the President credited himself and his administration for accomplishing during the past year? ________________________ ___________________ ___________________________

2. What are THREE goals which the President discussed in the State of the Union Address to focus on in the new year:?______________________________________________________

3. Which member from the opposing party gave a response to the President's State of the Union Address?_______________________

There are 6 Questions in this handout for students to use as a homework activity or as a extra credit activity.

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Check out my other resources on government:

  1. Students will learn about the election process including requirements to run for office, requirements to vote, the Succession Act, the Electoral College and more. There are 12 web questions, a Did You Know? fact section and comprehension questions. The Teacher Page includes extension activities, the keys and additional links:

2. You may have heard the word IMPEACHMENT being used in the news. Some people are talking about impeachment and the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump. What exactly is impeachment? In U.S. History, only two presidents have had charges of impeachment. Use this webquest to learn more about how the founding fathers determined the use of impeachment in the U.S. Constitution and the history of impeachment:

3.Do YOU Know Your Presidents is a series of three challenges. Each challenge worksheet has 25 questions(with 3 choices). The first challenge is the easiest with the third, the hardest.

There is also a Presidential Did You Know? Page. Kids can do one or all the challenges to learn interesting facts about U.S. Presidents. The teacher page includes several extension activities and the key.

4. What is this event in the USA called an "Inauguration"? Taking the oath of office, a big parade and evening balls, Inauguration Day is a very busy day for the incoming President! There are 10 web questions, a Did You Know? section, comprehension questions and extension activities:

5. President Andrew Johnson had a pet white mouse. President William McKinley had a pet parrot who was trained to whistle, "Yankee Doodle". President James Garfield was the first president to be left- handed AND could write with both hands(and different languages at the same time-Greek and Latin). George H W Bush liked eating pork rinds as a snack. President George Washington was a spelunker, a person that likes searching in caves. John F. Kennedy said, "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Use this presidential webquest to learn more about our presidents!

6. Part of my Ms. Bie Ografee series of plays, this Reader's Theater Script is on the "Father of the Constitution", James Madson(1751-1836), and his sharing with students the history of the writing of the Constitution. Madison who would become the 4th President of the United States(1809-1817), played a very important role in the forming of our US Constitution. In addition to being a delegate, he introduced the first additions to the Constitution(amendments) which came to be known as the Bill of Rights. With 13 audience questioners, a Did You Know Section, comprehension questions, a Teacher Page with extension activities, key and additional links, students will learn about the writing of our important government document, the Constitution:

Notes: Illustrations from wpclipart.comPhotograph from