Lighthouse Lesson Plan

Please note, this lesson plan was created by as a general guide and is not specific to any particular venue listed on our site.

The first known lighthouse was the Pharos of Alexandria, Egypt. Ptolemy I and his son, Ptolemy II, constructed it between 300 and 280 BC. It stood about 450 feet high. This lighthouse was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was destroyed in stages by invaders and earthquakes, being destroyed in the 1300s.

There were never more than about 850 lighthouses in operation at once, although about 1,500 were constructed in this country over the years—the hey-day being about 1910.


– The first lighthouse in America was located in Boston on Little Brewster Island (1716).

– The only lighthouse in America equipped with an elevator is Sullivan’s Island in Charleston, SC.

– The tallest lighthouse is Cape Hatteras, NC (196 feet tall, built in 1872).




Introduce students to a general history of Lighhouses, Lighthouse Keepers, their purpose and coastal history.

Discuss the history, unique functions, and more of the lighthouse that your group will be visiting. Also, take some time to learn about the lighthouse’s keepers over the years.



Coordinates: each of a group of numbers used to indicate the position of a point, line, or plane.

Characteristics: the signature or unique appearance of a lighthouse’s beacon to enable mariners to distinguish it from the beacons of other lighthouses in the area. There are several variables or characteristics that determine a beacon’s signature: one or more lights, color of a beacon (white, red, green, etc.), one color or changing colors, a steady light or a blinking light, if a blinking light the length and number of flashes and dark periods per minute.

Daymarks: lighthouses and other light stations have two principle functions – project a beacon at night and during daylight to serve as landmarks, also known as daymarks.

Eclipse: the periods in the revolution of a lens when light appears to go dark.

Fresnel lens: the type lens, first developed in 1822 by French engineer Augstin Fresnel that produces a more concentrated, focused and intensified beam than other type lenses previously used at lighthouses.

Lighthouse: a tower or other structure containing a beacon light to warn or guide ships at sea.

Lightship: a vessel, anchored offshore at a strategic point, which is equipped with a lens atop a metal tower located on the ship’s superstructure or deck.

Lens: the optic placed around the light source to capture, bend and intensify the light rays to project a beam great distances.

Optic: a lens or other optical component in an optical instrument.


– Listening skills

– Verbal communication

– Vocabulary development

– Data interpretation

– Information analysis

– Writing

– Math computation and operations

– Measurement


Create an imaginary keeper’s log.

Note the coordinates for the location of your school and other nearby points of interest on a map.

Read a non-fiction or fiction book with lighthouse themes or backdrop.