Benjamin Franklin

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin: Printer, Inventor and Statesman

January 28

During Benjamin Franklin’s lifetime, he was responsible for many positive changes throughout the colonies and around the world. Many of his ideas are still impacting us today. Interact with Benjamin Franklin as he reflects on his many inventions and ideas. He will also talk about his work as a printer and author, and how his work as diplomat to France helped the United States win the Revolutionary War.

To honor the change agents who formed our country, as well as encourage the change agents of today, here is a bit of advice from Ben Franklin, “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”  Creating meaningful change requires a committed team who is resolved to overcome individual differences to achieve a higher goal. Are you up to the challenge?

About Stephen Smith

A popular performer at Colonial Day at the Capitol, Smith describes himself as an “edutainer,” presenting a fun and fascinating look at Benjamin Franklin as a statesman, scientist, publisher and printer. Smith earned his bachelor’s degree in technical theater from Oklahoma City University and later earned his master’s degree in religion with an emphasis in communication from United Theological Seminary. His acting career has taken him to locations throughout the United States and to Russia. He served many years as a State Arts Council Artist-in-Residence and portrays a variety of characters, from inventor Orville Wright to the wacky scientist Professor B. Looney.

Session Moderator: The discussion will be moderated by Virtual Colonial Days project director Teresa Potter, an instructional coach for Kenneth Cooper Middle School in Putnam City Schools.

Classroom Resources and Activities

A. Ben Franklin Biographies              

Benjamin Franklin for Kids – YouTube video (9:12 minutes)

Benjamin Franklin, published by TIME for Kids 

B. Benjamin Franklin, Writer, Inventor, and Founding Father

Ben Franklin Lesson plan provided by PBS Learning Media

Franklin’s widespread interests and numerous fields of endeavor make him the American epitome of the Age of Enlightenment. In this lesson, students will reflect on the parallels between our own age and the one in which Franklin lived and worked. After viewing a short video about Franklin, they will read some of Franklin’s adages through an Enlightenment lens and examine a symbol-rich portrait of Franklin. The lesson culminates with students imagining Benjamin Franklin’s present-day social media presence.

C. Ben Franklin: Man of Many Talents, Man for the 21st Century

Lesson plan provided by Independence National Historical Park Pennsylvania 

Students will gain an understanding of the life and times of Benjamin Franklin in a series of activities that carry Franklin‘s ideas to the present day.

Each step contains two basic components: the Background Dossier and the Assignment. Individual steps may be taught in isolation or may be used together as part of a unit of study.