Presidents’ Day Activities for the Classroom
On President’s Day, I usually get attached to closed banks, awesome lease terms for well-qualified car buyers, and No interest rate on financing furniture. However, it’s a big opportunity for teachers to put those American history lesson plans on record with a handful of President’s Day activities.
This event became a holiday towards the end of the 1800s to honor George Washington, whose real birthday is February 2. However, as Abraham Lincoln was a February born, we realized the day is to honor both former leaders.
For teachers, President’s Day is a huge opportunity to praise everything POTUS. Here are some activities below for use, or use them as an inspiration to create your presidential lessons.
- First and foremost, be responsible
When this event day rolls around, getting a steady lesson plan on Abraham Lincoln’s log cabin is less tasking. Although the holiday also serves as an opportunity to investigate the classic narratives around the past leaders in-depth. The fact remains that presidents were not flawless characters, so by these ways, we can protect the leader’s integrity for our students.
- Watch how the American president came to be
How did President’s Day transform to this stage, and what’s the event’s purpose anyway? This exciting TedED video for elementary school children does justice to it. Check one of the biggest debates in American history: how our founding fathers maintained the leader of the executive arm.
- Put on a Presidents’ Day puppet show
How loveable are these guys? Younger students will desire to act on some of these presidential facts they’ve learned with these finger-puppet presidents. Adopt quarters (Washington) with Pennies (Lincoln) to celebrate the legendary boys. You can also add in other coins for more presidential excitement.
- Read our picks for great presidential books for the classroom
Respect all things POTUS with these 22 fun-filled reads for your classroom. This list hooks readers from Pre-K to middle school with presidential facts, history, and Presidents’ Day fun.
- Write letters to the current president
Nothing reveals our democracy in action than writing a letter to the commander-in-chief. During a class discussion, let students share what interests them most. Motivate your students to ask questions and share big thoughts in their letters. This is the address:
The President of the USA (or preferably the president’s name) The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20500
- Celebrate with a Presidents’ Day trivia game
Students will, of course, admire a presidential trivia game. Online resources allow them to find their facts and pen down some fantastic Q&A options for elementary grades. Let some fact sheets be printed out for home study. Older students can do their fact findings in teams and pose a challenge to the opposing students for game day. The White House Historical Society sure do have excellent thought-starters on presidents, first ladies, and even their pets.
Why did President Woodrow Wilson have a flock of sheep on the lawns of the White House? Who was the First Lady that was the first to decorate the White House for Halloween? You might be caught between the coolest facts to pick.
- Try a Presidents’ Day–inspired STEM experiment
Present those quarters and pennies again (this time, add nickels, dimes, and half-dollars, too). Science fused with history makes this coin experiment exciting, especially in smaller groups. Students can record, predict and put on charts their findings. Did they predict correctly? What’s the scientific evidence behind this coin trick? See more Presidents’ Day coin activity information here.
- Watch one (or 12!) Presidents’ Day videos
These Presidents’ Day videos also include the day’s history, with many interesting facts about our presidents. Use them as a guide to other Presidents’ Day activities.
- Go on a presidential scavenger hunt
Send your students on a Presidents’ Day scavenger hunt. Complete clues to figure out American presidential facts. You can download the scavenger hunt printable and then start exploring.
- Encourage presidential hopefuls
What makes an individual a good leader? What would be the disposition of your students if they held one of the top offices in the land? We admire how blogger Kindergarten Smiles made her kids do individual portraits and answer the question, “What would make you a great president?” Input the results or create a leading chart to remind students about the importance of good leadership characteristics. This is the lesson that lasts a school year and beyond too.
- Brush up on (or learn about) the Electoral College
Make students understand how presidents get elected by explaining to them about the Electoral College. Discuss the history behind the College, the purpose of its existence, and the states with the most or fewest electoral votes.
Discuss when a candidate has won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote. It would be a nice icing for older students to share whether the Electoral College should be part of the electoral processes. Go wide on elections with our top educator books on elections and election videos for children.
- Virginia is for lovers—and presidents
Are your students aware that Virginia has produced more U.S. presidents than any other state? Make sure to save and print these images of the past presidents and cut them out. Then whether as a class or in small groups, those images in the president’s home state. To make it look better, print multiple copies of the images and set the presidents where they are mostly produced and where they are born. (For instance, Barack Obama would be plotted in Illinois and Hawaii, while Andrew Jackson would be plotted in both South Carolina and Tennessee.)
You might also consider playing a different matching game: List all 50 states and the year they became part of the union, same as presidents Washington- Eisenhower- the years of their term(s). Motivate students to select who was president when the state(s) became part of the union.
- Explore Mount Rushmore
This place is one of the most important monuments in the United States. The National Park Service has great resources that enable students to comprehend everything that goes into the artwork. Their curriculum includes geology, history, visual arts, and more. As an added challenge, please share with your class which presidents they’d put on Mount Rushmore and why it is so. Do mention the Lakota Sioux tribe and why the environs of Mount Rushmore are so sacred to them.
- Engage in the art of the campaign
We can. Ike is loveable. Alongside LBJ. Slogans and awareness art are often the most admirable part of a presidential campaign. See this slideshow of some of the best campaign art over the years, and then share the images with your class. Then motivate your students to create their slogan and corresponding art– they can recreate an existing one, make art for an imaginary candidate, or make art for their presidential campaign ( if they would like to be one too.)
- Examine the art of speechmaking
We often recall presidents by acts and by what they said: Washington’s Farewell Speech, The Gettysburg Address, FDR’s fireside chats. There are a lot of these speeches you can share with your class. You might as well compare speeches, share and discuss the art of the captivating speech or discuss what makes a speech great and awful.