Scavenger Hunt in the White House

Scavenger Hunt in the White House
Jackie Kennedy: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: one hour


When Jacqueline Kennedy became First Lady, she was greatly disappointed in the condition of the White House and set about restoring it as a showcase of American history, art and craftsmanship.  Though some characterized her efforts as redecorating, Jacqueline Kennedy was engaged in the scholarship of restoration.  She combed the storerooms of the Smithsonian and traced furnishings sold from the White House and had them donated back.  She also supervised the publication of The White House: A Historic Guide, of which the sales paid for costs of restoration.  Jacqueline Kennedy was also responsible for creating the position of curator of the White House and forming the Fine Arts for the White House committee.  The efforts of Jacqueline Kennedy continue to be apparent in the White House and can be observed in the video tours of the White House, now available on the official White House website.


In the lesson, students will gain an understanding of the rich tradition of the White House by participating in a video White House scavenger hunt.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet for students and/or a computer with Internet and projection capabilities.


The official White House website provides video tours of rooms in the White House.  These video tours are presented by individuals currently working and/or living in the White House, such as President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, and Press Secretary Scott McClellan.   

Distribute the questions below to students prior to watching the videos (sans the answers).  

If a computer room is available, take students to the computer room and show them the official White House webpage as well as the room video tours.  If a computer room is not available, but a computer projector is, watch the videos together in the classroom.  

Direct students to answer the questions while watching the videos.  

To find the videos, first go to  In the right hand column is a photo of the White House curator with a menu button below.   Click on the arrow and a menu of White House rooms will appear.  The answers to the questions below are in the videos for the Blue Room, Red Room, Green Room, Roosevelt Room, Oval Office, Cross Hall, East Room, Diplomatic Room, Press Briefing Room, and Cabinet Room.     

Who is allowed to have meetings in the Cabinet Room?                            

- Only the president  

What paintings are in the Cabinet Room?                                                 

- George Washington                                                                              

- Dwight D. Eisenhower                                                                           

- Signers of the Constitution  

What is unique about Benjamin Franklin in the painting above the fireplace?

- Painting not complete, Franklin only sketched  

Which president gave a table to the White House that is now in the Cabinet Room?                                                                                                   

- Nixon  

How many people can sit at the table in the Cabinet Room?                      

- 20  

What is different about the president’s chair in the Cabinet Room?            

- It is two inches higher than other chairs.  

When was the first cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room?                          

- November 6, 1902  

Why was there not a meeting prior to Teddy Roosevelt’s administration in the Cabinet Room?                                                                                  

- The West Wing, where the cabinet room is located, was built when Teddy Roosevelt was president.  

What is the purpose of the Blue Room?                                                   

- Formal gatherings such as receiving lines  

Where are presidential receiving lines often held?                                      

- Blue Room  

Who was the first president to order furniture for the Blue Room?             

- James Monroe  

Where did the original furniture for the White House come from?              

- France  

What five presidential portraits are in the Blue Room?                           

*The first four presidents to live in the White House                                 

- Adams                                                                                                  

- Jefferson                                                                                               

- Madison                                                                                               

- Monroe                                                                                                

* Plus Taft - who had his portrait painted in the Blue Room  

Which presidential portraits hang in the Cross Hall?                                   

- most recent presidents  

Where was the president’s office prior to the building of the West Wing?  

- In the residence on the second floor  

What musical instrument is in Cross Hall?                                                

- Steinway piano  

What is the largest room in the White House?                                           

- The East Room  

What was the original name of the East Room?                                          

- The Public Audience Room  

Which presidential portraits are in the East Room?                                    

- Theodore Roosevelt                                                                              

- George Washington  

Where are large press conferences and funerals held in the White House?  

- The East Room  

What was the first piece of art purchased for the White House?                

- Full length painting of George Washington  

What is the connection between Dolly Madison and the full length painting of George Washington?                                                                           

- She saved the painting when the White House caught on fire.  

Where did Thomas Jefferson dine in the White House?                             

- The Green Room  

What famous cabinet maker built the furniture in the Green Room?            

- Duncan Fife  

When and why was the furniture in the Green Room acquired?                  

-  1960’s (Jacqueline Kennedy restoration)                                                

- For museum significance  

What room do visitors first visit when coming to the White House?           

- The Diplomatic Reception Room  

What was the original purpose for the Diplomatic Reception Room?         

- Furnace Room prior to Theodore Roosevelt renovation.  

What is on the wallpaper in the Diplomatic Reception Room and who is responsible for obtaining this wallpaper?                                                 

-  Scenes of America                                                                               

- Jacqueline Kennedy  

Why is the fireplace in the Diplomatic Reception Room famous?               

- It is where Franklin D. Roosevelt had his fireside chats with the American public during World War II.  

What is the first thing the president sees when entering the Oval Office?     

- Sun shining through large windows  

What does each president design for the Oval Office and what is significant about Laura Bush’s design?                                                     

- A rug                                                                                                    

- Sun rays coming through the morning windows  

What is at the center of the rug in the Oval Office?                                    

- The Presidential seal  

What does the eagle on the presidential seal look at and what does it look away from?                                                                                             

- It looks toward the olive branches that represent peace                           

- It looks away from the arrows that represent war  

What was the most famous photo taken in the Oval Office?                      

- A photo of John F. Kennedy Jr. poking his head out from under the desk 

Why was a door put on the front of the president’s desk?                         

- To hide the infirmity (paralysis) of Franklin D. Roosevelt  

What presidential portraits did George W. Bush select for the Oval Office and why did he select those portraits?                                            

- Abraham Lincoln (symbolizes that presidents have higher purpose than themselves)

- George Washington (Can not have the Oval Office without George Washington)  

What busts are in the Oval Office?                                                           

- Winston Churchill                                                                                 

- Abraham Lincoln                                                                                  

- Dwight D. Eisenhower  

Who is the briefing room named after?                                                     

- James S. Brady, Ronald Reagan’s press secretary who was shot during an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan  

What is the name of the podium that is put in the briefing room when the president speaks?                                                                                    

- Blue Goose  

What are the two main events each day in the briefing room?                     

- Morning press gaggle (What the president is going to do that day.)         

- Daily White House press briefing  

What was the press briefing room when Franklin Roosevelt was president?

- A swimming pool for President Roosevelt to do the physical therapy necessary, due to his bout with polio  

When is it permissible for the press corps to ask question during a press briefing (according to tradition)?                                                              

- After the senior wire service reporter thanks the press secretary at the end of the briefing  

Who is the longest serving member of the White House press corps?        

- Helen Thomas  

What was the purpose of the Red Room in the 19th century?                       

- First Ladies Parlor  

What is the significance of the Roosevelt Room?                                      

- One of the few meeting rooms in the White House  

What was the Roosevelt Room originally called and why?                         

- Fish room                                                                                             

- Franklin Roosevelt kept his fish aquariums and fishing equipment in the room  

What is on the mantel of the fireplace in the Roosevelt Room?                  

- The first Noble Peace Prize won by an American, Theodore Roosevelt  

What flags are in the Roosevelt Room?                                                    

- The flags of the four branches of the military

Extending the Lesson:

To extend this lesson, the students will create a timeline based on what they discovered during their scavenger hunt.

Sources & Resources:



This lesson plan was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University.