Presidents Day: 5 Ways to Help Your Kids Honor Washington, Lincoln, and More
Disclaimer: The U.S. Department of Education does not mandate or prescribe particular curricula or lesson plans. This information is provided for the visitor's convenience and is included here as an example of the many resources that parents and educators may find helpful and use at their option. See the full FREE disclaimer.
Presidents Day is observed on the third Monday in February. Established in 1885, Presidents Day was created by the federal government to recognize President George Washington, born on February 22, 1732, for his contributions to the nation. While the day officially recognizes Washington, over time, the holiday has become an opportunity to honor Abraham Lincoln, born Feb. 12, 1809, as well as other presidents. Help kids learn more about Washington and Lincoln with information from the Library of Congress, the Senate, the Smithsonian, the Government Printing Office, and more.
- Compare time periods: Promote learning by having your kids compare the nation at the time of Washington with that of Lincoln. What was the population of the country in each time period? Let your kids know that the first census actually took place when Washington was president. How many states were there under each president? Were Washington’s clothes different from Lincoln’s clothes? Was there a war being fought during both presidencies? Were there other differences between these time periods?
- Count the presidents in your pocket: For younger kids, set out some pennies, quarters, and other coins, and see if kids can identify which coins have representations of Washington and Lincoln. Try some games, such as finding and counting how many coins have Washington on them. Help kids learn more about our monetary system with some other activities created by theU.S. Mint.
- Read Washington’s farewell address: Each year on Washington’s birthday, the Senate reads the address Washington wrote to the nation as he retired from public office. See if older kids would be interested in reading Washington’s farewell address. Ask your kids what his main concerns were that he voiced in the address.
- Spend the day at a National Park: Every Presidents Day weekend, the National Park Service opens up its 400+ national parks for free to celebrate our past presidents. With your kids, see if there is a park near you using the National Park Service’s Find a Park app. Check out the website’s calendar of events to see what special activities will be taking place Presidents Day weekend, that may be close to where you live.
- Have popular food of the times: Hot chocolate was a popular beverage at the time of the colonists. Make some no-sugar hot chocolate with your kids to commemorate this day of observance. Or try cooking food similar to that which George Washington would have consumed. He could have caught fish from the Potomac River, which runs close to his home, Mount Vernon. And Lincoln pardoned a turkey at Thanksgiving time. With your kids, check out recipes for making Catfish Sliders and Terrific Turkey Tacos, recognized at a national Kids’ State Dinner competition hosted by first Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.
This feature is based on a blog post that originally appeared on free.ed.gov, a site that is now retired. Please visit ed.gov/FREE for more information.
Last Modified: 12/01/2015