Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Pete: Truman's White House Squirrel
Diane Nelson
US History
Time Frame:
One 45 minute class
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972

Grade Levels:
1, 2, 3, k

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Whole Group Instruction - Teacher will read, Squirrel Feeder, to the class using the document camera. There is a Kindle edition that can be used and the book is available in print.
  • Whole Group Instruction - Teacher shows the class primary sources - photographs of Pete and Ricky Feeney.  Discuss the wide variety of animals that have lived at the White house.  Show photographs of the different White House pets and animals.  Explain what primary and secondary sources are.  Show examples.
  • Whole Group Instruction - Explain each library center activity to students before breaking off into small groups. Students can move from center to center, choosing any activity they prefer.  Each center activity takes about ten minutes to complete.
  • Small Group Center - White House pets and animals coloring sheets
  • Small Group Center - Make squirrel food
  • Small Group Center - Quiet reading center - books about the White House and Presidents
  • Small Group Center - Think Like a Historian - analyze primary source photographs of White House animals using small magnifying glasses
  • Small Group Center - Enrichment - Read the worksheet, “Morning Walks” and write a letter to President Truman
  • Small Group Center - ELL/Spanish Language - complete dot-to-dot activity
  • Listen to the World War I music, (e.g., Over There), during the library center time.

  • This lesson provides information to students about the White House, and the residents of the White House.  Second grade students can identify with animals and pets and it makes the topic of learning about the White House a more personal connection (self-to-text).

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

I-SAIL Standards (Illinois Standards Aligned Instruction for Libraries)



  • Identify literary elements such as character and setting.


  • Ask how and why questions when presented with information.


  • Read or listen to nonfiction (biography, information books, poetry)


Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts



  • With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.


  • Describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.


  • Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
·         Book - Feeney, B. C. (2016). Squirrel Feeder. Archway Publishing. 
  • Photo Analysis Worksheet - DocsTeach. (2018). DocsTeach: The online tool for teaching with     

           documents, from the National Archives. Retrieved July 18, 2018, from National Archives     

           website: https://www.docsteach.org/resources/document-analysis

·         Book - Kennedy, M. (2009). Pets at the White House. New York, NY: Scholastic Publishing. 
  • Book - Castriota, S. (2014). Wilson and the White House Pups (3rd ed.). Castriota Press.
·         Book - Zourelias, D. (2009). Presidential Pets Coloring Book. Dover Publications.
·         Magazine article - Wagner, T. (2016, Spring). Serving at the Pleasure of the President. Southern 
     Maryland, 18(1), 13-14.
·         Press Release - The Official Squirrel Feeder of the White House. (1974). Nuts. Press Photo. 

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Radice, T. (1948, November 30). "Pete" the Squirrel [Photograph]. Retrieved from



·         Harris & Ewing. (1922). Pete, the pet squirrel, at the White House [Photograph]. Retrieved from 
·         Pete, pet squirrel at the Executive Mansion, is causing Laddie Boy to look to his laurels 
      [Photograph]. (1922). Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002712422/ 
  • Why did President Woodrow Wilson keep a flock of sheep on the White House lawn? (n.d.).      

     Retrieved July 21, 2018, from The White House Historical Association website:



Technology Required:

Materials Needed:

  • Book (print and Kindle versions) - Squirrel Feeder
  • Document camera
  • Smartboard
  • Speakers
  • Primary and secondary sources (see below)
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Crayons
  • Copies of activities (see below)
  • Laminated photos of White House animals and pets
  • Lined paper for letter writing
  • Pencils
  • Post-It notes
  • Variety of White House and President books for primary grades
  • Brown paper lunch bags, small zip-loc bags
  • Squirrel food ingredients: quick oats, corn meal, unsalted sunflower seeds, corn kernels, unsalted peanuts

Full description of activity or assignment.
  • Whole group instruction - Gather the class together.  Give pre-assessment:  Give each student a Post-It note and pencil.  Ask them to write down three different pets and/or animals that lived at the White House.   If any students need assistance, they can work with a neighbor.  Ask three students to share their answers.  Collect notes.
  • Tell students the objective and the subject of the lesson.  Explain how the class period will run.


  • Library Centers

-       Coloring sheets - pets in the White House

-       Make squirrel food

-       Writing activity - “Morning Walks” worksheet

-       Literature - pets and animals in the White House/White House books - quiet reading center

-       ELL - Dot-to-dot worksheet in Spanish

-       Enrichment - Analyze primary source photographs using analysis sheet and mini-magnifying glasses


Additional materials for this lesson

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • Pre-assessment - ask students to write down three different types of animals or pets that have lived at the White House.  Give students a pencil and Post-It note.  Students who need assistance writing can work with a neighbor.
  • Post-assessment - have students draw a picture of an animal or pet that has lived at the White House and write two sentences about it.  For students who need help writing, they can draw a picture and have a student scribe for them.

Additional materials for this lesson