President’s Day Unit Study Starter

February 14, 2022
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Guest Author

Chances are good that if you check your calendar, the third Monday of February is Presidents’ Day. Why do we celebrate Presidents’ Day? Is it just another patriotic day or a day to take off from school?  Initially, the holiday began in 1885 to recognize George Washington, which is why it’s still called “Washington’s Birthday.” For that reason, it was set as February 22nd, which is Washington’s actual birthday. However, in an effort to honor all presidents, the holiday was moved to the third Monday of February.

Presidents’ Day Facts

• The Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, created by Congress in 1968, was meant to provide more “designated Monday” holidays. The idea behind this was to give people more three-day weekends and scale down absentees in the workforce. The bill passed in 1971, leading to Presidents’ Day being established as the third Monday in February. (Thanks, George Washington for the extra day off!)
• Technically speaking, the holiday isn’t even called Presidents’ Day. It’s actually still called Washington’s Birthday.
• Car dealerships, restaurants, and many other stores like to take advantage of the holiday to promote their businesses. See how many “Presidents’ Day sale” ads you can find around town!
• That same Uniform Holiday Bill Congress passed was meant to pay respect to Abraham Lincoln (whose birthday is February 12th) and include another president.
• Presidents’ Day didn’t actually become an official holiday until Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law.

Presidents’ Day Activities

Math:

• Have your children or teens guess which state produced the most presidents. (You’ll probably want to clarify that by “produced” you mean states where presidents lived when elected, not where they were born.) Keep track of these guesses and write them down. Next, have your children do some research. You may want to split this activity into assigned tasks. Older children can do the research while younger children keep track with tally marks or a bar graph. When finished, compare the results to initial guesses. Did the data support their guesses?
• Your students can create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting two presidents. To start with, have them compare and contrast George Washington and Abraham Lincoln since this holiday was largely about those two presidents historically speaking.

Social Studies:

• From inaugurations to vice presidents, these president social studies games will boost your child’s knowledge about our country’s leaders.
• Invite your child to engage in some president trivia games (answer key included)!
• If your child or teen is a fan of puzzles, check out these president crossword puzzles.

Science:

• Young children will enjoy this easy science activity. Squirt lemon juice into a bowl and add a few drops of water. Then add some old pennies (for Lincoln) and quarters (for Washington). After about five minutes, remove the coins and polish them. Can your children identify the president on each coin?

Language Arts:

• These president learning games cover several different presidents and teach language arts skills, too.
• Need a change from the usual spelling activities? Try these Presidents’ Day spelling games.
• President Andrew Jackson was one of the most controversial presidents. Have your child or teen write about him with this president writing prompt that focuses on him.

Step Out of the Box

President’s Day is the third Monday of every year. Usually, we associate President’s Day with President Washington and President Lincoln.  Why not teach about a more current President this year?  Some possible ideas include–

Presidents Roosevelt and Truman – World War II. Watch videos about Roosevelt and Truman and then write an essay on how these two presidential terms still affect our country today.
President Kennedy – Jackie Kennedy remarked that “There’ll be great presidents again…but there’ll never be another Camelot.”  Watch the Camelot video and discuss this quote.
President Jimmy Carter – Habitat for Humanity. Discuss whether you believe he made more of an impact during his presidency or after his presidency.

President’s Day Printables

Discover printables that will reinforce what you are learning about United States Presidents. Two preschool/early learner color sheets included.