President's Day activities for kids
We've got several ideas for activities that will help teach your kids about presidents and American history.
Fri, Feb 18, 2011 at 10:24 AM
The kids are off from school on Monday for President’s Day, but that doesn’t mean that they need to sit around all day playing video games.
Let them sleep in a bit, and then get them engaged in an activity that will remind them why they get off from school in the first place. Help them learn a little about America’s commanders-in-chief with one of these President’s Day activities.
Plan and cook a presidential meal. Now Public has links to over 50 White House recipes. You can make Thomas Jefferson’s Chicken Fricassee with a side of Ronald Reagan’s Macaroni and Cheese. Bake a batch of Barbara Bush’s chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Find a few fun facts about the presidents whose dishes you chose and talk about them while you’re working in the kitchen.
Visit a museum that focuses on American history. The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia has special events President’s Day weekend. The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., has its regular permanent presidential exhibits. It’s currently running a special exhibit of photographs of the Kennedys from 50 years ago, too. You can also visit one of the many presidential libraries across the country that feature interactive exhibits.
Watch a movie about one of the American presidents. If weather keeps you indoors, pop some popcorn and pop in a historical flick with older kids. Check out The Crossing with Jeff Daniels as George Washington (No Rating), Young Mr. Lincoln with Henry Fonda as Lincoln (No Rating), Jefferson in Paris with Nick Nolte as Thomas Jefferson before he was president (PG-13), or Warm Springs with Kenneth Branagh as Franklin Delano Roosevelt (No rating). When the movie is done, talk about why a dramatic movie about a president’s life might not be completely historically accurate.
Start memorizing all of the presidents in order with “The Animaniacs.” In the 1990s, the creators of “The Animaniacs” had kids memorizing all of the states, the countries in the world and the presidents (up to that point) without them even realizing it. The fun “President’s Song” got kids singing along and before they knew it, they were singing, “Martin Van Buren number eight/For a one-term shot as chief of state” to the tune of "The William Tell Overture." You can find the video on YouTube, complete with words at the bottom to sing along with.
Write a letter to the president. Have your child write a letter to President Barack Obama about an issue he or she cares about. Enchanted Learning has a very simple format and some suggestions that a child can follow. They also have the address to send the letter to.
Get crafty. Kaboose has lots of ideas for getting creative on President’s Day with crafts. Create the White House out of craft sticks, a “Yes We Can” Can to save money to donate to a favorite charity, or an Old Glory Flag Pennant out of a grocery bag.
Visit a national park. Did you know that many of our national parks honor our former presidents? Information can be found on the National Park Services website about John F. Kennedy’s birthplace in Massachusetts, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, Ulysses S. Grant’s wife’s home and dozens of our other national parks. Search by topic and then by American presidents to find the information.
Got other ideas for President's Day activities for kids? Leave us a note in the comments below.