Kinderhook: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Kinderhook: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Hannah Van Buren: Education, Arts, Letters and Ideas

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: Two to three class periods

Required Documents
Legend of Sleepy Hollow Summary
Summary Rip Van Winkle
Washington Irving Study Guide


During the Jackson administration Martin Van Buren met Washington Irving in England while both were diplomatic appointees of President Jackson. The two became very close friends. When they eventually returned to New York they maintained a long and close friendship, writing letters and going on trips together. Among their favorites pastimes was to visit Dutch communities in New York and New Jersey. Among them was undoubtedly the town of Kinderhook, New York, the childhood hometown of both President Van Buren and his wife Hannah. A town similar to this was the setting of Irving’s most famous work “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”


1.  Students will be able to identify five works of American Author Washington Irving.

2.  Students will be able to summarize the basic plots of Washington Irving’s best-known works, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Rip Van Winkle.

3.  Students will be able to explain why Washington Irving is such an important figure in the history of American Literature.

Materials Required:

1) Access to the Internet; 2) Washington Irving Study Guide; 3) Summary Worksheet for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; 4) Summary Worksheet for Rip Van Winkle.


1.  The idea of this lesson is for the students to become aware of the works of American author Washington Irving. The teacher will begin the lesson by mentioning the best-known works of Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. The class will discuss what is known about these two works. Another possible introduction to this lesson would be to show clips from the Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which is available in four segments on You Tube.

2.  The teacher will inform the students that they will be responsible for finding information on the works of Washington Irving as well as some information on the author himself. Computers may be used to complete this activity or the information could be printed from the websites if Internet access is not available.

3.  The students will use the two biographies of Washington Irving listed below to complete the Works of Washington Irving worksheet provided with this lesson.

4.  There are two other resources included with this lesson. They are summary sheets for the most prominent works of Washington Irving,

Extending the Lesson:

Conducting further study of the specific works of Washington Irving could extend this lesson. Below in the Sources and resources section of this lesson plan are links to complete online copies of these works as well as summaries and study guides.

Sources & Resources:


Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Tribecca Books, 2011.

Irving, Washington and Moses, Will. Rip Van Winkle. Philomel Books, 1999.


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (2)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Summary

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Study Guide

Rip Van Winkle

Rip Van Winkle Study Guide

Washington Irving Biography

Irving Biography 2

Irving Biography 3

Irving Biography 4



This lesson was developed by Robert McClelland, Cleveland Metropolitan School District.