Did you know George Washington’s original birthday was February 11th, 1731? In 1752 the United States changed their calendar system from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. This change effectively moved George Washington’s birthday to the day we now celebrate on February 22nd, 1732. That’s a year’s difference in age. Here’s hoping we get a chance to rewind our age a year too 🙂
Ok–so celebrating President’s day is not going to make you younger, but it does add a refreshing take to your weekly lesson plan.
President’s day is your chance to teach students about the founding fathers and the history of our political system in a fun and engaging way. Forget the lecture notes. Forget the whiteboard. Let your imagination run wild and think outside the box this President’s day.
To get you started, the Quizbean team came up with 10 classroom activities to do this President’s day. Which one will you do?
Instead of talking about democracy, put it on full display. Make a decorated ballot box out of an old shoebox and set up an election for your students to vote. Just make sure the election is fun and reflective. One election idea that came to mind is to vote on the next classroom pet. President Beta fish, anyway?
I’ve learned kids love nothing more than being silly and one of the ways to productively use that silliness in the classroom is role-playing games. Have your students pair up and choose to play either George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. Once they’ve done this, pick a topic for your students to debate. This activity is even better with president props like cotton-ball beards, construction-paper hats, and little podiums. There’s really no limit here. Just have a lot of fun and be silly.
Have your students write a paragraph or two on the prompt above. Encourage big, bold actions and reinforce the characteristics common to great leaders like our founding fathers. Once everyone in the class completes the exercise, pick students to share their ideas in front of the class.
Did George Washington really cut down the Cherry tree? It’s debatable. What’s not though, is how much kids love pie. Bring a fresh-baked cherry pie to class and have your students discuss the merits of Washington’s leadership while eating a delicious slice of pie.
Ok, just one more food related activity. I promise. Give your students a handful of pretzels and have them recreate Lincoln’s cabin using the pretzels. First, ask the students to build lincoln’s cabin as it was in the 1800s. Then have them dream up what his cabin would like today. This is a good segue to an interactive discussion about the similarities and differences of politics in Lincoln’s time and politics today.
Hide a penny (for Lincoln) and a quarter (for Washington) in your classroom. Break your class into two groups. One group is on the hunt for Abraham Lincoln. The other group is looking for George Washington. Use facts and light trivia about each president for clues and have the last clue lead to either the penny or the quarter (depending on which group the students are in). Once both groups locate the hidden coin, have each group present what they learned about their president.
Bingo is a good way to get kids excited about president’s day, and it’s a lot of fun too. I mean, who doesn’t like to shout out “Bingo!?” The best way to get started on this activity is to give students a list of letters/things they need on their bingo card and then have them create it.
Pick a short story about a president and after you’ve read it, students need to write a sentence about a detail they already knew about the president and one thing they wonder about the president. Post these sentences on the board in the correct column and generate an interactive discussion with your students.
Lincoln’s hat is an iconic image of the United States’ early history and politics. It’s also a good tool for unpacking any questions students have about the political system. Ask students to write down one question they have about our government and then put it in a construction-paper replica of Lincoln’s hat. Then go around the class letting each student reach in the hat, pull out a student question and answer it.
Let your students each pick one, yes one, colored pencil or crayon. Hand out an assortment of President’s day images–a portrait of George Washington, Lincoln’s hat, the flag, the union, the executive branch, etc–until each student has an uncolored image. Set a timer for one minute and have the students do their best to color in a part of the image. Repeat this until all the images are colored in and then discuss the pros and challenges of working together (i.e., “working across the aisle”)
Did we get your imagination going? These are just a few of the activities you can bring to your classroom on President’s day. So, what activity are you going to do? Let the Quizbean team know in the comments below.