Happy Birthday Mr. President!

Presidents Day first became a federal holiday in 1885 to celebrate President George Washington's birthday on the 22nd of February. However, President Lincoln was born on the 12th, so in 1971 the holiday was officially changed to the third Monday in February. Legally, it is still Washington's birthday, but it is observed as a combined Presidents Day.

Many schools and businesses close in observance of this holiday. Retailers and car manufacturers have led us to believe the importance of this holiday is the potential for saving money on sales and deal. We have nothing against a great sale - maybe you can get that fun new pair of headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for your classroom! But if you're interested in learning a little more about the two presidents who made this holiday possible, we've got the listening suggestions for you right here. Keep scrolling for some simple to implement classroom activities, too!

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Notable Titles from Above

  • Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War by Thomas B. Allen: An authoritative narrative reveals Lincoln as our nation's first hands-on commander in chief, whose appreciation for the power of technology plays a critical role in the North's Civil War victory over the less developed South.
  • George vs. George: The American Revolution as Seen from Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer: George Washington and King George III of Britain had a great deal in common - aside from sharing the same first name. Yet despite their similarities, they were destined to become bitter enemies.  
  • Behind the Scenes in the Lincoln White House: Memoirs of an African-American Seamstress by Elizabeth Keckley: A former slave who became a successful dressmaker with her own business, became the dresser, dressmaker and confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln during Abraham Lincoln's presidential adminstration.
  • John, Paul, George & Ben by Lane Smith: This humorous and factual history of five lads who grew up to become Founding Fathers brings the early days of American history to life with sass and substance, in Lane Smith's inimitable style.

Activity Ideas

  • 3-part Presidents Day printable courtesy of Bethany Gardner for K-2nd graders
  • Several upper elementary Presidents Day activities from Jamie at Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher
  • Middle schoolers might draw portraits of presidents, modernized to today's politics and fashion sense. Try filling in a basic silhouette of a president like these with a collage of magazine clippings that represent that president's ideas, values, and personality.
  • After listening to titles about the presidents, high schoolers can write about what they think these historical figures would have to say about today's politics, and debate their points. Set up a mock Congress and allow students to try to work out a current issue from the perspectives of Washington or Lincoln.

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