Free Thomas Alva Edison Unit Study

(Click here for a downloadable PDF of this unit study and other free resources.)

As February quickly approaches, now is the perfect time to share with you a new unit study on Thomas Alva Edison, who happened to be born in February! My kids love anything science and invention related, so last year they were elated when I came up with my Famous Inventors/Inventions unit study. Of all the people we learned about, Thomas Edison was, by far, their favorite, so I think it was only appropriate that I would write a new one focusing only on him.



Thomas Alva Edison Unit Study

free Thomas Edison unit study

Book Recommendations:

Who Was Thomas Alva Edison?– Margaret Frith

Thomas Edison: The Great Inventor– Caryn Jenner

Timeless Thomas- How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives– Gene Barretta

Thomas Edison (Lifetime Series)– Richard Tames

What Makes the Light Bright, Thomas Edison?– Melvin and Gilda Berger

Inventing the Future: A Photobiography of Thomas Alva Edison– National Geographic

Inventions- FAQ– Valerie Wyatt

So You Want to Be an Inventor?– Judith St. George



phonograph                                                                    innovation

patent                                                                                laboratory

kinetograph                                                                     electricity

kinetoscope                                                                      lightbulb

kinetophone                                                                     incandescent

telegraph                                                                           technology

technology                                                                         battery

incandescent                                                                     electric

receiver                                                                               addled

inventor                                                                              transmitter

invention                                                                            experiment

scientist                                                                              engineer


Suggested Activities:

#1- Thomas Edison was born on February 11th, 1847. How old would he be if he were still alive today? (history, math)

#2- Al, as his parents called him, was born in Milan, Ohio. Locate Ohio on a map. How far is it from where you live? (geography, history, math)

#3-  Thomas Edison’s mother provided him with a basement laboratory. It was filled with, among other things, empty jars and bottles, feathers, and rocks. Create a temporary lab in the kitchen or basement and experiment using materials similar to Edison’s in addition to: a magnifying glass or microscope, baking soda, vinegar, corn starch, and other household items. (science)

#4- As a child, he once broke open a bee’s nest to see what was inside. Watch a video showing the inside of a bee’s nest. (science)

#5- Al once suffered from scarlet fever. Research it, and write a report. (science, language arts)

#6- Tom, as he was called as he got older, and a friend used to send messages to each other across a wire using Morse Code. Find out how to spell your name using this code. (social studies, history)

#7- Thomas Edison worked on a train in his youth. Learn about trains and how they work. (history, science)

#8- Tom set up his own printing press on a train that he worked on. Start up a weekly or monthly family newspaper to share your news with friends and relatives. (language arts)

#9- Visit a newspaper office to see how newspapers are printed now. (field trip, social studies)

#10- Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Discuss the meaning of this quote. (language arts, character)

#11- Most inventors worked alone, but Tom liked working with a team. Gather a team of your own, and see what unique ideas you can come up with together! (science)

#12- Edison bought 2 large plots of land in Menlo Park, NJ. His “community” had a lab, office, library, carpentry shop, machine shop, glass blowing shed, and engine house. Choose one and research what sort of work would be done there. If possible, take a field trip to one in your area. (social studies, field trip)

#13- Write a report on the phonograph. (science, language arts)

#14- U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes invited Thomas Edison to the White House so that he could see the phonograph. Which President was he, and what years was he in office? (history)

#15- Build your own lightbulb. (science)

#16- Find out how a lightbulb works. (science)

#17- Tom and his second wife, Mina, used to have lavish dinner parties. Orville Wright, Helen Keller, and Henry Ford were all guests of theirs. Find out what each of these people is famous for. (history)

#18- If you could invite anyone in the world, alive or dead, to a dinner party, who would you invite? Write an essay explaining why you chose that person. (language arts, social studies)

#19- Draw a comic strip of Edison working on one of his inventions. (art)

#20- While the lightbulb and phonograph are the two inventions he is most known for, what other inventions did Edison come up with? Were they all successful? (science, history)

#21- Thomas Edison passed away on October 18th, 1931. How old was he? (math)

#22- On the night of Edison’s funeral, President Herbert Hoover requested that all Americans turn off their lights for 1 minute. Turn off your lights for 1 minute in honor of the man who made the world a brighter place. (character)


For more activities focusing on famous inventors, you might enjoy my Famous Inventors/Inventions Unit Study.

Hop on over to iHomeschoolNetwork for more great ideas about famous people with February birthdays!

Learning activities about famous people with February birthdays




Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

17 thoughts on “Free Thomas Alva Edison Unit Study”

  1. Pingback: | Time 4 Freebies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: