Just Like Abraham Lincoln by Bernard Waber - Teaching Ideas

Next door to this little boy lives a man named Mr. Potts, and he looks just like Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Potts not only looks like Abraham Lincoln but he is smart like him and knows all there is to know about him. This little boy loves spending time with Mr. Potts and when it was time to put together their Abraham Lincoln birthday celebration assembly at school, the little boy tells his teacher that Mr. Potts should come in and recite the Gettysburg Address for the students. The teacher loves the idea, and so does Mr. Potts. At the assembly the students were told to close their eyes so they could magically be transported to Gettysburg. When they opened their eyes there was Mr. Potts standing there looking EXACTLY like Abraham Lincoln, with his stovepipe hat and frock coat. Mr. Potts did such a great job as Abraham Lincoln most of the kids really thought it was him. It was a day they would never forget!

Listed below are the skills and strategies that you could use  with this book to create a great lesson. I created a Compare & Contrast freebie for you if your students need practice with this.

Reading level: 3.7
Theme: important people
Genre: historical fiction
Suggested Vocabulary: mended, woodlands, buckskin breeches, coonskin cap, spectacles, stovepipe hat, frock coat, plowed, hardships, wood box, astonished, conceived in liberty, flyleaf, Lincolnfile,

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder what the story is about. I wonder who is just like Lincoln. {possible questions during} I wonder why Mr. Potts looks so much like Abraham Lincoln. I wonder what the surprise is going to be. {possible questions after} I wonder if the boy will get to know Mr. Pettigrew like he got to know Mr. Potts. **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author’s point of view – First person. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this.
  • Author’s purpose – Entertain/inform {evidence} The illustrator painted the pictures in watercolor showing different things Lincoln did. The author compared Mr. Potts to Abraham Lincoln, how they looked and what they liked. I think it is funny that the boy's  new neighbor looks like George Washington. All of these things made an entertaining story that gave me information about Abraham Lincoln.  
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} The boy had a neighbor that looked just like Abraham Lincoln. {most important event from middle} The boy talked to his teacher about having Mr. Potts come in for their Abraham Lincoln birthday celebration. {most important event from end} Mr. Potts moved away and Mr. Pettigrew moved in.
  • Cause and effect – Why did everyone think Mr. Potts was sad? Because he had sad eyes. Why did the boy like to walk with Mr. Potts? Because they talked about so many things. Why did Mr. Potts like to read? Because everything he wanted to know was in the books. Why did Mr. Potts say, “The poorest among us can have books.”? Because everyone can get books from the library. Why would the children gather around Mr. Potts on summer evenings? Because they liked to listen to Mr. Potts’s stories. Why did the boy have to whisper his suggestion to his teacher? Because he wanted it to be a surprise for everyone. Why did Mr. Potts grow a beard? So he could really look like Lincoln. Why were people even more surprised when they saw Mr. Potts? Because with his beard he really looked like Abraham Lincoln. Why did Miss Robin want the kids to close their eyes at the assembly? So the students could feel like they were transported back to Gettysburg when they opened their eyes. Why did the kids think they were transported back to Gettysburg? Because when they opened their eyes they saw Abraham Lincoln standing on the stage reciting the Gettysburg Address. Why did Mr. Potts have to move? Because his work took him to Washington D.C. Why did Mr. Potts give the boy his stovepipe hat? So the boy had something to remember Mr. Potts.
  • Character analysis - describe Abraham Lincoln {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Classify & categorize – Classify Lincoln, categorize his looks, likes, things he did, things he was good at.
  • Compare & contrast – Mr. Potts to Abraham Lincoln.
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Learning about Lincoln at school. Having an assembly about Lincoln.  
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – When Mr. Potts moved away the boy lost a good friend and story teller. Do you think the boy will get to know his new neighbor? {text clues} Mr. Potts looked like Abraham Lincoln and he loved spending time with him because he told great stories and he learned a lot about Lincoln. The boy’s new neighbor looked like George Washington. {what I know} If I meet someone that looks interesting I want to spend time with them so I can learn things. {my conclusion} I think the boy will get to know Mr. Pettigrew because he probably knows a lot about George Washington and thinks he will learn things from him like he did with Mr. Potts.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} The boy had a neighbor named Mr. Potts that looked just like Abraham Lincoln. {details} The boy liked to walk and talk with Mr. Potts. Mr. Potts had a stovepipe hat just like Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Potts dressed like Abraham Lincoln and recited the Gettysburg address for the boy’s assembly.
  • Plot – The turning point or climax of the story is when Mr. Potts has to move to Washington D.C. for his job.
  • Predict – What do you think the story will be about? What do you think the boy is whispering to his teacher? Do you think Mr. Potts is willing to help the boy out? Do you think the students will really think it was Abraham Lincoln on stage saying the Gettysburg Address? What do you think Mr. Potts is going to give the boy? Do you think the boy will get to know Mr. Pettigrew?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} The boy’s class is having an assembly to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and they are trying to figure out what they should do for the assembly. {solution} The boy tells his teacher that Mr. Potts should come dressed as Abraham Lincoln.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – How would you react if you opened your eyes at an assembly and saw Abraham Lincoln standing on the stage? 
  • Visualize – The boy was very lucky to have Mr. Potts live next door to him. He not only looked like Abraham Lincoln but he knew a lot about him too. Visualize who you would like to have as your neighbor. Why do you think this person would be a good neighbor?


Happy Reading!


  1. This looks like a cute story...I will have to check it out! Happy Monday!

    1. Hi Kelley,
      It is really cute, your students will love it. I remember when I was a kid we had an assembly at my school about Abraham Lincoln and there was someone on stage that looked exactly like him, so this story has a real connection for me :)

  2. Your site is such an awesome resource! I just shared it on my 5 on the 5th post!

    I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

  3. I got your site from Megan and I'm in love! I teach using mentor texts as much as possible. Thanks so much!
    Ideas By Jivey

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Glad you found me! I hope you find some useful stuff here.
      Enjoy the rest of your week!!


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