Presidents' Day! The Votes Are In . . . These Activities Win!
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
We think you would agree when we say that February is a busy month. We jump from Valentine's Day to Presidents' Day all while we are studying Black History Month. Whew! This Presidents' Day we turned to Printables to help us bring an important part of history into our classrooms. Join us as we share the lessons that won our student's votes.
After reading and discussing several books on Abraham Lincoln, we asked students to write either something that they knew about Lincoln or a question that they still had on a piece of sentence strip. We made a chart and divided it into two columns, labeling one side “What do we know?” and the other side “What do we wonder?” Students then came up to the chart and posted their sentences in the proper column.
When everyone was finished, we discussed the statements and questions and decided if they had been placed in the proper column. We also made corrections to grammar errors, but did not worry about spelling unless the word was on the word wall or it followed a spelling pattern we had studied. This was a time for the students to peer edit. We tried to let the students guide the lesson here.
We used the following books with our students:
- Abraham Lincoln and Presidents' Day by Joanne Barkan
- Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Doreen Rappaport
- Abraham Lincoln: A Photo-Illustrated Biography by T. M. Usel
- George Washington: America’s First President by Justin McCory Martin
- ...If You Grew Up With George Washington by Ruth Belov Gross
We do a lot of writing with our students and every holiday or special event gives us plenty to write about. We support student writing by using a variety of graphic organizers, published by Thinking Maps, to show students that there are many ways to organize our thoughts. We gathered what we learned and made a circle map to describe each president. Students then took the information and wrote two to five sentences about each president.
We decided to display our stories in a couple of different ways using templates available on Printables. Our final products turned out very nice and comprise a lovely patriotic display in the classroom.
Getting Into Character
When you think of Abraham Lincoln, you know you picture that stovepipe hat and black beard. So, we decided to let our students get into character. We made beards for Lincoln and hats for Washington using templates from Printables. We made tall black hats using a strip of black construction paper to go around their heads and attached it to another piece for the hat. As simple as this activity was, they loved it. Some of the girls got very creative and made pink beards!
Some of the students tried out their best “Abraham Lincoln voice” and stood up in front of the class and told one thing about Lincoln that they had learned. It was very entertaining.
Compare and Contrast
After several days of reading and writing about the two presidents, our students had gained a wealth of knowledge about the two men. As a class we created a "double bubble" map to compare and contrast Washington and Lincoln. After doing this as a class, students were assigned partners and worked together to complete their own compare and contrast activity.
What are some of your favorite Presidents' Day activities? Please share!