President’s Day Activities for the Classroom

President’s Day lessons are part of kids’ development of an overall understanding of the office of the presidency and why it’s so important. These lessons can lay the groundwork for their active involvement as citizens down the road, making them more inclined to see voting as a civic duty and an important part of their role as Americans. Learning about the presidents on President’s Day can also help kids understand the principles and values that have guided the nation, as well as the challenges that the presidents have faced. In addition, kids may be fascinated by the stories and accomplishments of the presidents, or by the fact that they have held such a powerful and influential position.

1. Take a virtual field trip to the FDR Presidential Library for President’s Day. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only American president to serve more than two terms — paving the way for what we now know as “term limits” here in the US. Take your class on a virtual (and free) trip to this historic president’s official home in upstate New York to learn about his presidency and the work of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

2. Engage science classes in presidential coin cleaning. Give your science class a taste of Presidents’ Day with a coin-cleaning experiment. Gather pennies (bearing Washington’s face, of course) and nickels (bearing Jefferson’s profile), as well as water, vinegar, ketchup, and baking soda to determine which chemical reactions will do the best job if they are used for cleaning. Before introducing this hands-on activity, you can explain to your students that scientists once tested American money and found hundreds of microorganisms on them. Students can make predictions about which substances will do the best job of cleaning the coins and why, perform the experiment, observe, and, of course, record their results.

3. Hold a mock election for President’s Day. There’s no reason to wait until November to talk about elections with your class — in fact having the discussion around President’s Day can take some of the heat out of the conversation that comes with parents at home talking about particular candidates in the lead-up to Election Day. Use this less politically charged time of the year to talk about the electoral process and hold a mock election in the class!

4. Create presidential timelines. Do you need a President’s Day activity that will touch on the various third grade standards for ELA? Creating presidential timelines not only gives your students practice finding information from various illustrations and texts, but it also gives them practice with conducting short research projects to build their knowledge. It’s a win-win! Allow students to pick a president for their timeline project, and challenge them to find key information about their chosen American leader, from the date he was born to the day he died, significant events during their presidency and any other notable achievements.

5. Revisit the revolution. Without the founding fathers and the American Revolution, we wouldn’t have a United States of America or an American presidency. Use this February holiday as a way to introduce the key figures who played significant roles in the American Revolution and the drafting of the Constitution. Tell stories about their lives, including their motivations, accomplishments, and challenges, and offer up information about the presidents who were involved. For example, did you know only two presidents — George Washington and James Madison — signed the US Constitution?

6. Prompt kids to share what they would do if they were president. Do you ever wonder what your students would do if they were president of the United States? This activity is perfect for writing centers to challenge students to think creatively as writers and also think about the world around them. Students can think about what they’d do if they were president of the United States or think more locally as president of a school government association. What would they change? What would they try to do, even if it might not be successful? This worksheet can fit nicely within the context of helping your students build a growth mindset.

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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