Crafty projects and ideas to help you teach, and celebrate, President's Day:
1. Paper Faces
What you need: construction paper, crayons, paper plates, paint, cotton balls, markers, glue
What to do: After discussing some of George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s contributions, ask children to make portraits of the two presidents.
For Lincoln, students should cut circles out of cream construction paper for the face, then add smaller white and black paper circles for the eyes, and use a crayon to draw the nose and mouth. Next, children can trace their hands onto black construction paper, and attach these shapes to the face upside down to make Lincoln’s beard. Finally, have them cut black T-shapes for the president’s stovepipe hat.
For Washington, students paint the bottom half of a paper plate cream, and the top half blue. When it’s dry, they add eyes, a nose, and a mouth to the cream half using markers. Have them glue three cotton balls on either side of the cream portion for hair, and cut two triangles out of the rim on the blue portion to create a tricornered hat.
Display the portraits on a bulletin board along with presidential facts.
2. Inspiring Words
What you need: Inspirational presidential quotes, paper, colored pencils, crayons, other art supplies
What to do: Discuss some famous presidential quotes, such as “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be,” from Abraham Lincoln. What do the words mean to students? Invite children to create posters illustrating their favorite words of wisdom. Look at examples of typography online so that children can see how beautiful printed words can be. Challenge students to create posters that reflect the quotes’ meanings.
3. Log Cabin Math
What you need: Log cabin template, craft sticks, markers, glue
What to do: Discuss the fact that Abraham Lincoln grew up in a log cabin. Then invite students to build their own cabins. Distribute copies of your log cabin template or place them in a center. Write a number on the “roof” of each cabin, such as 12 or 25. Ask students to write math equations on craft stick “logs” whose sum is the chosen number. When students have written 10 or so problems, have them glue the sticks onto their templates and share their work with the class.
4. Campaign Posters
What you need: Posterboard, markers, paint, images of campaign posters
What to do: Show children images of campaign posters. Then invite them to create campaign posters for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Encourage them to include facts or promises that would be of interest to voters at the time. For example: “Vote for Lincoln, Vote for Freedom.” Host a “rally” in which children display their posters and share what they’ve learned about the two presidents.
5. Presidential Heights
What you need: Ribbon, butcher paper, markers, measuring tape
What to do: Explain that both Washington and Lincoln were tall—six feet two inches and six feet four inches, respectively. Invite groups to estimate how tall this is by cutting lengths of ribbon. Then measure out the actual heights of the presidents with lengths of ribbon, and use these as guides to create butcher-paper silhouettes of Lincoln and Washington. Post the silhouettes on a bulletin board and have students mark off their own heights in comparison. Label the bulletin board “Growing to Presidential Heights.”
6. Giant Money
What you need: Penny, dollar bill, butcher paper, markers
What to do: Share the fact that both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln appear on U.S. currency. Divide students into two groups and invite one group to research the penny and the other to research the dollar bill. Have each group come up with a list of questions about its currency, then help students to find the answers using books and websites. Finally, have each group create a giant version of its currency using butcher paper. Have the groups present their giant money to one another and share what they’ve learned.