Thomas Edison


In this lesson you will be teaching your students about Thomas Edison and his contributions to modern life and society.  This lesson focuses on his inventions and how they have influenced us today.  It also spends a little time on how Edison is an inspiring historical figure because he overcame disadvantages and he lived by the idea that failure was a good part of success and to never give up.  There is a book, Thomas Edison for Kids: His Life and Ideas, 21 Activities (For Kids series), which has simple experiments for kids to do based on Edison’s inventions. If you have the time, using this resource to do some hands on activities would be a great addition to this lesson.

If you are using this lesson for home school students, you may want your student to research a few different inventions by Edison and make a visual presentation to display what he or she has learned in this unit.

Thomas Edison Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Thomas Edison
  • Hands-on homework activities
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 3-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The lesson introduces students to the great American inventor Thomas Edison. The lesson begins with a short introduction that includes some of Edison’s inventions and how they continue to impact our way of life today.  A short history of Edison’s life is included in the lesson. Then, Edison’s three major inventions, the lightbulb, the phonograph and the kinetograph are described in detail. Suggestions for where to find hands on activities for your students are contained in the lesson.

Classroom Procedure:

  1. Ask your students what they think life was like before light bulbs, electricity, phones music recorders, movies? Have a discussion about what they think. Tell them how these things were dealt with- for example there were gas and oil burners for light and communication at a distance could only be done my mail which took weeks or months.
  2. Talk briefly about Edison’s life and his contribution to the world. Briefly explain how he influenced all the things you discussed earlier.
  3. Watch a brief video on Thomas Edison.
  4. Hand out lesson pages. Review the lesson. Include interesting stories about Edison that aren’t in lesson pages.
  5. Do the activity.
  6. Give out the homework assignment. You may let students choose their writing topic or assign topics to students so all topics will get covered.
  7. Talk about Edison’s cause and effect. For specific inventions discuss what he made and how he paved the way for specific modern technology.
  8. Have students share homework and what they learned about his inventions. When you are done reviewing all the inventions, ask students which they feel had the biggest impact on modern life. Have a discussion about this.
  9. Talk about why you feel Edison was inspiring. Read a few of his quotes and discuss how he worked through failure. What other things about Edison do your students like? Discuss what they learned and liked in this lesson
  10. Hand out and do the practice pages.

Common Core State Standards: 


Class Sessions (45 minutes): at least 3 class sessions

Additional Resources:

Many more teaching resources in Download!

Want more social studies resources? Check out our other Social Studies Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies