Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
February 9, 2016 How to Explain Presidents' Day to 5-Year-Olds By Allie Magnuson
Grades PreK–K

    To someone who’s only been alive for five years, concepts such as citizenship and democracy can be hard to grasp.

    Starting with some basic vocabulary words can be helpful:

    • A citizen is a member of a country.

    • A democracy is when citizens of a country can choose their leader.

    • A president is the leader of a country. A country's citizens choose the president.

    Explain that two of the most important past presidents of the United States had birthdays in February, so we have a holiday in February called Presidents’ Day to celebrate them and all other presidents.

    These short lessons are obviously highly simplified. The idea is to give your very young students just the most basic facts at this stage. The following lessons can be taught easily in one day, with your whole class. At the end, you can even have a birthday party for the presidents!

     

    Talk About

    George Washington

    He was our first president. He helped create our country, and he and his friends made it so that citizens have a say in how the country is run (we can choose leaders and change the rules). His birthday is on February 22.

    Talk About

    The American Flag

    It is a symbol of the United States. Before our country even had a president, there were only 13 states*, so there are 13 stripes on the flag. Now there are 50 states, so there are 50 stars on the flag.

    Show

    A Quarter and a One-Dollar Bill

    One child holding a quarter, and another holding a dollar bill

    Sing

    "You're a Grand Old Flag"

    Kids singing and waving American flags

    Talk About

    Abraham Lincoln

    He helped give African Americans the same rights as everyone else (he changed the rules). His birthday is on February 12.

    Talk About

    Log Cabins

    Abraham Lincoln lived in a log cabin before he became president. He had a humble beginning, but in the United States anyone can become president.

    Show

    A Penny and a Five-Dollar Bill

    One child holding a penny, and another holding a five dollar bill

    Build

    A Cabin With Lincoln Logs

    Kids playing with Lincoln Logs

    Talk About

    Barack Obama

    He is our current president. Because George Washington and his friends gave us the right to change the rules, and Abraham Lincoln changed the rules to give rights to African Americans, we now have an African American president.

    Talk About

    Correspondence

    Every day, the president gets thousands of letters, emails, faxes, and phone calls. Every day, he reads and answers ten letters personally. Someone in the White House answers every message, even if it’s not the president. Every voice gets heard.

    Show

    Pictures of the President

    Pictures of President Obama

     

    Write

    Letters to the President

    A child writing a letter to the president

     

    These three pictures from the WhiteHouse.gov archives are especially powerful:

    • President Obama in the White House with portraits of Washington and Lincoln hanging on the walls

    • President Obama voting

    • President Obama and his daughter looking at Lincoln’s portrait at the Smithsonian

     

    Talk About

    Voting

    When we vote, we are each given something called a ballot. It has several choices on it, and we each choose the one we think would be best. Then someone counts the votes, and the choice with the most votes is the winner. This is how we choose a president.

    Talk About

    Hats

     

     

    George Washington wore a hat called a tricorn. It had three corners. Abraham Lincoln wore a hat called a stovepipe. It was very tall!

    Set Up

    A “Voting Booth”

    Print out voter registration cards, ballots, and “I Voted” stickers from Scholastic Printables! (Subscription required.)

    Make

    Tricorn Hats and Stovepipe Hats

     

     

     

     

     

    Paper tricorn and stovepipe hats

    *It might be too confusing to introduce the term colonies at this point.

    To someone who’s only been alive for five years, concepts such as citizenship and democracy can be hard to grasp.

    Starting with some basic vocabulary words can be helpful:

    • A citizen is a member of a country.

    • A democracy is when citizens of a country can choose their leader.

    • A president is the leader of a country. A country's citizens choose the president.

    Explain that two of the most important past presidents of the United States had birthdays in February, so we have a holiday in February called Presidents’ Day to celebrate them and all other presidents.

    These short lessons are obviously highly simplified. The idea is to give your very young students just the most basic facts at this stage. The following lessons can be taught easily in one day, with your whole class. At the end, you can even have a birthday party for the presidents!

     

    Talk About

    George Washington

    He was our first president. He helped create our country, and he and his friends made it so that citizens have a say in how the country is run (we can choose leaders and change the rules). His birthday is on February 22.

    Talk About

    The American Flag

    It is a symbol of the United States. Before our country even had a president, there were only 13 states*, so there are 13 stripes on the flag. Now there are 50 states, so there are 50 stars on the flag.

    Show

    A Quarter and a One-Dollar Bill

    One child holding a quarter, and another holding a dollar bill

    Sing

    "You're a Grand Old Flag"

    Kids singing and waving American flags

    Talk About

    Abraham Lincoln

    He helped give African Americans the same rights as everyone else (he changed the rules). His birthday is on February 12.

    Talk About

    Log Cabins

    Abraham Lincoln lived in a log cabin before he became president. He had a humble beginning, but in the United States anyone can become president.

    Show

    A Penny and a Five-Dollar Bill

    One child holding a penny, and another holding a five dollar bill

    Build

    A Cabin With Lincoln Logs

    Kids playing with Lincoln Logs

    Talk About

    Barack Obama

    He is our current president. Because George Washington and his friends gave us the right to change the rules, and Abraham Lincoln changed the rules to give rights to African Americans, we now have an African American president.

    Talk About

    Correspondence

    Every day, the president gets thousands of letters, emails, faxes, and phone calls. Every day, he reads and answers ten letters personally. Someone in the White House answers every message, even if it’s not the president. Every voice gets heard.

    Show

    Pictures of the President

    Pictures of President Obama

     

    Write

    Letters to the President

    A child writing a letter to the president

     

    These three pictures from the WhiteHouse.gov archives are especially powerful:

    • President Obama in the White House with portraits of Washington and Lincoln hanging on the walls

    • President Obama voting

    • President Obama and his daughter looking at Lincoln’s portrait at the Smithsonian

     

    Talk About

    Voting

    When we vote, we are each given something called a ballot. It has several choices on it, and we each choose the one we think would be best. Then someone counts the votes, and the choice with the most votes is the winner. This is how we choose a president.

    Talk About

    Hats

     

     

    George Washington wore a hat called a tricorn. It had three corners. Abraham Lincoln wore a hat called a stovepipe. It was very tall!

    Set Up

    A “Voting Booth”

    Print out voter registration cards, ballots, and “I Voted” stickers from Scholastic Printables! (Subscription required.)

    Make

    Tricorn Hats and Stovepipe Hats

     

     

     

     

     

    Paper tricorn and stovepipe hats

    *It might be too confusing to introduce the term colonies at this point.

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

My Scholastic

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us