Who Was Gerald Ford?

Contributor: Nichole Brooker. Lesson ID: 11397

Presidents thrown into the presidency by events beyond their control have a tough job. Gerald Ford had to follow the first president to resign. Learn about his life and create a word cloud about him!


United States

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Gerald Ford was a very talented football player who played for the University of Michigan. He was offered a position with both the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, but he turned both down to become a lawyer.

See if you think he made the right decision as you explore President Ford and his legacy!

Every president in the history of the United States worked doing something before becoming president.

John Adams was a U.S. diplomat in Europe, Millard Fillmore was an apprentice for a cloth maker, and James Garfield was a teacher. Gerald Ford was the first president to spend his college years as a star football player. He attended college at the University of Michigan and studied law while playing for the football team. He was an excellent football player, but he ultimately turned down playing for the National Football League to pursue his passion of becoming a lawyer.

  • What do the responsibilities or job of a football player and the responsibilities of the president have in common?
  • How do you think his time as a competitive football player helped shape the president he would later become?
  • Do you believe President Ford's time as a disciplined athlete helped him become a disciplined politician?
  • Write a paragraph or two about the possible relationship between the two very different positions that Gerald Ford held.
  • Share your thoughts with your teacher or parent. Ask your parent or teacher if he or she would have done what President Ford did back in the 1930s.

President Ford was not in office very long (896 days), but the time he spent as United States president was often controversial because of his decision to pardon Richard Nixon from all wrongdoing regarding the Watergate scandal.

The Watergate scandal was the situation that ended President Nixon's presidency because he was going to be implicated in illegal activity. President Ford decided he should not stand trial, and pardoned him from all wrongdoing. This angered many Americans because they felt Nixon should stand trial.

As you research President Ford, make a list of six to eight facts about the 38th president and the contributions he made to the United States.

Do this by watching the President Gerald Ford Biography*** video and reading 9 Things You May Not Know About Gerald Ford by The History Channel. Finally, read Gerald R. Ford from The Presidents of the United States of America by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey.

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In the 896 days that Ford was in office, he attempted to gain the Americans' confidence in the United States government. In the next section, you will use the fact list you created and add from a large list.

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