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Celebrating Presidents’ Day with Kids: Activities, Fun Facts, And More!

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Want to explain President’s Day to your kids and even find some fun ways to celebrate this U.S.A. federal holiday? Here you go!

The third Monday in February is Presidents’ Day. Or is it? That name has a fun twist (keep reading!).

Originally started to honor the birthday of founding father and first president George Washington, it later became a day to also honor the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln (also born in February). And today it’s generally accepted as a day to honor ALL American presidents.

Now, most people don’t “celebrate” this day; it’s more of “honoring” it or “recognizing” it. But I say, LET’S PARTY!

title of article (Celebrating Presidents' Day in your Homeschool) over an American flag with a little girl wearing a patriotic outfit
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The History of Presidents’ Day

This holiday dates back almost 150 years! In the 1880s, it was determined that a day should be set aside to honor George Washington and his significant role in American history.

And so Washington’s Birthday (the original name of the holiday) could also have been called President’s Day (as in the day celebrating one president).

But in 1968, there was a bill before Congress wanting to make quite a few changes to this party.

First, they wanted to move the day from the 22nd (the day good ‘ol GW was born) the Monday usually nearest that day. This would give hard workers a 3-day weekend, which is a great treat.

The bill before Congress also proposed making the holiday an even bigger birthday bash by adding Lincoln to the list of honorees (he was born on the 12th, and his birthday was also celebrated in many states already).

But then the name couldn’t be Washington’s Birthday, so they also proposed a name change, since Washington’s Birthday would no longer fit and proposed the name Presidents’ Day.

Fun fact: the bill went into effect in 1971, and even though the name change wasn’t approved it’s still the commonly used and accepted name today, made popular by retailers advertising sales in honor of Lincoln and Washington (and all the extra customers they get because of it…you decide).

Why Is The Apostrophe Where It’s At?

Homeschool Mom Hint: you can use this fun example for your grammar lesson on the third Monday in February!

Since we were now going to be honoring more than one president, the name had to reflect that.

So it couldn’t be President’s Day, but needed to be Presidents’ Day (what’s the difference? It’s the location of the apostrophe!).

The shifting of the apostrophe signals it’s a day belonging to presidents (as in more than one) and not a single president.

Why Celebrate Presidents’ Day?

Why is Presidents’ Day worth celebrating? There’s no tree for gifts (there’s not even any gifts!). There’s no turkey or even burgers on the grill tradition. We just had the Super Bowl and Valentine’s.

So why the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln and the rest of the amazing people (and at times, not so amazing) that have lead our great nation?

Well, for this homeschool mom, it’s a way to teach American history in a fresh and fun way. It’s a way to add an extra smile to an often dreary February while we’re eagerly awaiting spring and watching for those first daffodils.

But it’s also a day to have a moment to contemplate their solemn vow when they are sworn in:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Presidential Oath of Office

This is a chance to discuss the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and this “great experiment” known as democracy.

It’s a day (at least for us) to set aside political arguments and debates, and focus on the ideas that our country was built on and talk with our kids about ways to live in support of them and effect change that ensure their kids also live in a country with rights and freedoms that have been hard won.

peek at the Presidents' Day chaper in All About America

Some Fun Ways To Honor The Presidents

Here are some ideas we’ve come up with and wanted to share:

  • Take a tour of the national monuments (you can do it virtually, no worries!)
  • Visit any local American history museums or homes
  • Write a letter to the current president and mail it
  • If you’re in Virginia, you can even visit Washington’s birthplace – and if you’re not local, you can do it virtually
  • There’s also Lincoln’s birthplace in Kentucky (and see it virtually here)
  • Learn The American President’s Song
  • Listen to Hail To The Chief, the official song played for presidents
  • Have your child pick the name of a president they’ve never heard of and look them up
  • Bake a birthday cake and decorate it red, white, and blue
  • Pull out coins and bills and identify which ones have presidents and explore why they were chosen
  • Do a unity study on American government (this is the one we’re doing)
  • In honor of Lincoln, build a log cabin – make it edible by using pretzel rods and either marshmallow fluff or peanut/sunflower butter to stick it together
  • Build the White House, one of the presidential monuments, or Mt. Rushmore using paper mache, modeling clay, or whatever art supplies you have on hand (you could also use the paper craft version included in our unit study for several of them)
  • Write a speech campaigning for president, outlining the changes you would bring to America and why
preview of U.S. Presidents chapter in All About America unit study

Fun Facts About Past Presidents

Andrew Jackson (president #17) sewed his own suits.

26th president, Teddy Roosevelt, is the one who gave the presidential mansion the name White House.

The tallest US president was Abe Lincoln, at 6 feet 4 inches.

James Madison was only 5 feet 4 inches, making him the shortest president.

William Henry Harrison (9th president) only served 32 days in office, making him the president to serve the shortest amount of time.

The 32nd president often referred to as FDF (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) served an astonishing 4,422 days in office. He was the only president to serve three terms, and after his presidency a law was passed limiting service to two terms.

Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the US, received a speeding ticket costing him $20 (a lot of money back then – about $500 today!) for driving his horse and buggy too fast on a Washington, D.C. street.

James Garfield, the 20th president, was the first lefty in office. Truman, Ford, Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton, and Obama were also left-handed.

All About America: Presidents, Presidents’ Day, and SOOOO much more!

In the All About America unit study, your kids will have over 175 pages of hands-on activities, coloring pages, and learning materials. There are cut and paste crafts, coloring, information for you to read them (or for them to read independently), poetry, fun facts, flash cards, and even a memory game!

From the Declaration of Independence to understanding presidential elections, this study is designed to teach your kids all about America. Plus, there are flash cards for every president of the U.S. so they can “meet” them all!

mockup of printed all about America unit study from The Moments At Home shop

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