Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Build your own cabinet
Sarah Brought
US History
Time Frame:
2 fifty minute class periods
Grade Levels:
8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • The students will be using primary and secondary sources to build their own cabinet as if they were President Trump. The students will then look at how the cabinet they created would advise them to fight against War on Terrorism today. For time sake, the students will be focusing on the cabinet positions of Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Treasury, and Attorney General.  I will provide the students with links to primary sources that will be useful but it will their responsibility to research and find information they need on those links.

  • The students will be able to explore the roles and jobs of four of the cabinet positions. The students will also dissect the role specific members during times of crisis during American History, focusing on WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

  • T1. S1. C: Develop a research plan, identify appropriate resources for investigating social studies topics, and create and present a research product which applies an aspect of government to a contemporary issue
  • T1. S5. A: Using a government lens, describe how peoples’ perspectives shaped the sources/artifacts the created

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
Full description of activity or assignment.
  • After we have gone over the purpose of the president’s cabinet and the different roles that each cabinet members have. As the teacher I will lead the class in discussion about what type of cabinet would be the most beneficial for a president to have. Would it be best to have people to always side with you or people who will question your decisions?
  • The students will then be put in groups of two or three. As a group they will be given the task of researching Presidents Truman’s, Johnson’s and Bush’s cabinet during the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf Wars.
  • They will then use the information they found about the cabinet members during these three presidents’ presidencies and build their own cabinet. They will have to choose who they would want to be their Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Treasury, and Attorney General.
  • After they choose their cabinet members the students will need to write a rational about why they chose those specific members to be a part of their cabinet.
  • The students will then be asked how these members might advise them today in handling ISIS today and provide a rational about why they think so.
  • The students will then say what their decision would be on handling ISIS as the president of the U.S. based on the advice from the previous step. They will also explain why they chose that decision
  • The students will then disclose their decision to the class and as a class we will discuss the pros and cons to the decisions each group made. I will then have the class decide what action they feel is the best.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • To assess this assignment I will have the students turn in their research, their members, their rationales, and a full description of their decision. Their research needs to show their summary of their sources used as well as a citation of the sources. For their members and rationales they need to have facts from their sources to support their decision to choose that specific member. For their decision, they need to explain exactly was their decision is and again have facts to support that and explain how their cabinet members influenced that decision.
  • Research worth 15 points (5 sources, minimum 3 primary)
  • Members/rationales worth 12 points
  • Decision/Description worth 8 points

Total points for the project 35 points