Why celebrate Presidents for just one day when there are more than enough engaging and fun Presidential activities to fill an entire month? We have compiled the very best Presidents' Day ideas that you will want to use year after year to engage your preschool through upper elementary students. Time to start planning a FUN February by bringing the U.S. Presidents to life with ideas from this Presidents’ Day Activities list!
Why Take Time for Presidents’ Day?
Although here in the United States Presidents' Day is a federal holiday that focuses on two pretty important people, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, there is no reason you shouldn’t expose students to other U.S. Presidents. By learning about the Presidents, students can get a better understanding of how the U.S. came to be and the role that different leaders have played in shaping it. Plus, it's a great way for students to develop their critical thinking skills and learn about the political system. All in all, it's a pretty valuable lesson!
5 Engaging and Fun President's Day Activities to fill up your February!
1. The Best Presidential Books!
There are SO many amazing books on Presidents out there! And after being in education for years and years (and more years-yikes!), these are the titles that we come back to time and time again. All sorts of our students have loved them! Check them out from your local library or grab them from Amazon to add to your collection.
If you haven’t had a chance to read Mike Venezia’s Getting to Know the U. S. Presidents series or Roberta Edward’s Who Was series, you are in for a treat! These books are packed with information, well-written, and a great balance of text and illustrations. These Presidential books are perfect for capturing the attention of the preschool through elementary crowd!
Our hands-down winner here is Magic Tree House books. Several in the series highlight past Presidents! Mary Pope Osborne’s enchanting stories will attract even the pickiest of readers. Plus there are non-fiction companion books which allow students to deep-dive into what a President's life was really like!
🔹Character of Leaders
The Children’s Treasure of Virtues by William J. Bennett is a collection of 3 books: The Children’s Book of Virtues, The Children’s Book of Heroes, and The Children’s Book of America. These short stories and poems highlight the virtues and characteristics of many leaders from history. Your students will be inspired as they read about Washington and Lincoln, as well as other real and fictional heroes. A real favorite!
Do more than just read the book!
Books are a fantastic resource to start your exploration but did you realize that the average student remembers just 10% of what they read and only 20% of what they read and hear?
To increase their retention rate to 75%, get your students to discuss, interact, and manipulate the Presidential material they are learning.
Keep reading to find the perfect Presidents’ Day activities to engage your students!
2. Presidential Challenges!
So how many U.S. Presidents can you name? Your students? 10? 20? Are you able to do ALL of them?!
A fun activity to use when teaching Presidents to elementary students is to have the students see how many Presidents they can name. See which student or group can name the most. Then challenge the kids was to memorize all of the Presidents–in order! Students' reaction will be that there is NO WAY they can do it.....but here's a little bit of help.
Your students can easily remember all of the Presidents in order once they learn a Presidents' Song. Do a quick search on YouTube and you will find countless versions! Plus research has proven that MUSIC is a fantastic way to help you memorize a large amount of information!
Music helps by:
🔹providing structure for the brain through the use of predictable patterns
🔹using more than one part of the brain
🔹and is just plain FUN!
So challenge your kids to learn ALL of the Presidents in order--see how long it takes you. I'm guessing they will know them in just a few days! Plus, they will be able to recall them for years to come!
Another fun challenge is Presidential Trivia! Trivia games encourage kids to learn interesting and unknown facts about these leaders. Professor Noggin is a go-to for kids trivia games. It has an easy and a hard level plus a variety of question types so everyone playing with find the game challenging, but not frustrating. And best of all, it is a fun and engaging way to learn more about U.S. Presidents!
3. Money, Money, Money
Presidents are all over United States currency! There are so many exploration and observation skills you can practice by taking some time to incorporate money into your President’s Day unit. These ideas are especially great for preschool and kindergarten learners.
For Preschool and Kindergarten learners:
🔹Sorting coins by Presidents
🔹Practice counting coins
🔹Learn which Presidents are on what bills and coins
🔹Identify coin values
🔹Find equivalent values using different coins or bills
For Older Elementary learners:
🔹Discover how money is made
🔹Find out when bills are printed or coins are minted and figure out how old they are
🔹Learn about the other words and symbols on the currency
🔹Even integrate some science by polishing coins!
Check out this catchy (and educational!) song about U.S. money and the presidents!
4. Hands-On Presidents’ Day Activities
These will be some of your students’ most favorite memories! Remember that retention rate of 75%, it is time to interact with and manipulate the information they are learning about the Presidents. Hands-on projects and activities are the perfect way to do this! Do a quick online search and you will find an endless list of ideas to incorporate into your classroom. Two of our all-time favorites are:
Log Cabin Homes
Always a hit! Probably because they get to eat what they build, but we like to think some serious designing skills were being developed. Many of our first Presidents lived in log cabins. Simple activities such as building pretzel or graham cracker log cabins with frosting help kids make meaningful connections and retain information better!
Just a few simple supplies like paper lunch bags, toilet paper rolls, popsicle sticks, and you are ready to go! There are so many ways for students to create their own versions of George and Abe (or any of the other Presidents)! Plus have them present an interesting fact or two about their President to the class and you have them practicing public speaking skills!
Let them create today and watch them "play" with the information they learn! It really does make a significant impact on how they will retain. For even more activities and ideas, check out this Presidents Pinterest Board to help reinforce your lessons!
5. Boost Research Skills
President's Day is a perfect time to begin exposing or teaching research skills!
Pick a focus on a favorite like Washington or Lincoln (or pick any President) and encourage a deep-dive to learn more about them. The information they will gather can easily be organized into a few categories (think early life, adult life, Presidential life), making for a perfect transition to a book or written or oral report.
This President Research Flip Book that can easily guide you through the process with your older elementary kids!
Need an idea for for those curious preschool and kindergarten students?
Try this engaging President's Day activity will teach younger students basic information about the U.S. Presidents! This tab book contains 2 differentiated coloring and tracing options for an “About the President” tab book. This easy to make President’s Day preschool and kindergarten activity includes color and black and white options. Perfect for a variety of abilities!
This 1st - 3rd Grade higher-level resource offers 3 different tab book versions:
A Question and Answer Version with with handwriting lines a single sentence response
A Question and Answer Version with plain lines for a few sentence responses
A Short Response Version with lines for a multi-sentence or short paragraph response
Plus 3 Levels of Source Text - allow students to practice reading and locating facts to complete a written response.
Or just grab the Presidents Day Activity Tab Book BUNDLE which contains differentiated coloring, tracing, and writing “About the President” tab books for Preschool through 3rd graders. Perfect for a variety of ages and abilities!
BONUS: Free Presidents' Day Activity
Finally, you can challenge students’ higher-level thinking skills by taking it one step further and comparing 2 Presidents! One of the best ways to organize information to compare Presidents is to use a Venn Diagram.
Did you know that Venn Diagrams encourage kids to:
🔹Think critically about information
🔹Organize information visually
🔹Take note of differences
The best part is you can use them for ANY age or style of learner!
This free Presidents' Day resource offers multiple ways to interact with the information students are learning--draw pictures, cut and paste facts, use keywords or phrases, or write complete and detailed sentences.
Download your free resource today! This set includes several versions of Venn Diagrams geared toward early elementary students as well as an older elementary students. A one day lesson that engages students critical thinking skills! There are multiple ways to interact with the information students are learning -- cut and paste facts, use keywords or phrases, or write complete and detailed sentences. Complete as a whole class, small groups, or individual students. An easy print and go lesson on the Presidents. Download your free 15 page resource today!
Final Teacher Tip! These projects are not only great for Presidents' Day but also perfect to include in your Elections, Inauguration Day, or President units! Your students are sure to love the hands-on aspect and it will be time well spent to help them understand the significant people and their historical importance for the United States.