The third Monday in February is quickly approaching, and you’re likely on the lookout for fresh, engaging Presidents’ Day activities for kids to use in your classroom. From fun crafts for pre-K and kindergarten to history activities for the upper elementary kids, our teacher team has put together a full array of teaching resources to make Presidents’ Day more than just a day off from school.
When Is Presidents’ Day in 2022?
Presidents’ Day is officially celebrated on the third Monday in February every year — which means it will hit on February 21, in 2022. It’s a day most teachers and students will spend outside of school for the federal holiday. The holiday used to pop up on different days of the week up until Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1971, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers.
What Is Presidents’ Day?
Trying to make sure your students understand the importance of Presidents’ Day — beyond the fact that they get to sleep in? Here are some fun Presidents’ Day facts for kids!
- Presidents’ Day has been honored in some form since the 1800s, when it was first deemed a holiday to honor the birthday of President George Washington, who was born on February 22, 1732. President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the official law marking Washington’s birthday as a federal holiday in 1879.
- When the holiday was moved to the third Monday in February, the celebration of Washington’s birthday was officially combined with a celebration of President Abraham Lincoln whose birthday was on February 12.
- Presidents’ Day is not the official name of the holiday. Although it’s typically called that, and you’ll see it marked as such on most calendars, technically the U.S. government never officially changed the name!
- The third Monday in February is still technically known as “Washington’s Birthday” or “George Washington Day” in the states of Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, and New York.
Presidents’ Day Activities for Kids
Before you wish your students a happy holiday weekend, give them a chance to explore the themes behind this important day with some fun and interesting classroom activities! Whether you’re looking for something serious or a little more light-hearted, we’ve got everything you need to help your students engage in this important day.
Take a Virtual Field Trip to the FDR Presidential Library
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only American president to serve more than two terms — paving the way for what we now know as “term limits” here in the US. Take your class on a virtual (and free) trip to this historic president’s official home in upstate New York to learn about his presidency and the work of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Looking for more free virtual field trips for your class? We’ve got those too!
Read Fun Books About Presidents
There are plenty of fun children’s books about presidents — from the books about the actual people who have lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (or the former home of the commander in chief) or those about kids who become president of … something. Does your school have a student government of some sort? Take the time to talk make the topic of Presidents’ Day relate to their every day with some of these books about kid presidents:
- Grace For President by Kelly DiPucchio
- Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents (Kid Legends) by David Stabler
- If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier
- Marvin Redpost #5: Class President by Louis Sachar
Discover How Coins Are Made
For most kids, the closest they will ever get to a United States president is seeing his face on their money. But just how does a president’s face end up on a coin? And how are coins made?
Explore the concept of our currency with a virtual visit to the US Mint to see how the money is made. Consider supplementing the lesson with a listen to the “How are images chosen for coins?” episode of the popular kids’ podcast But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids.
Extend the money-based lesson by adding a chance to design their own currency into your President’s Day activities, or save these worksheets for financial literacy lessons at any point in the year. Analyze a dollar bill with your class, and then let them take over by designing their own currency. Your kids can also plan and illustrate a coin.
See more fun (and free) podcasts for kids to listen to in your classroom!
Presidential Coin Cleaning
Give science class a taste of Presidents’ Day with a coin cleaning experiment. Gather pennies (bearing Washington’s face, of course) and nickels (bearing Jefferson’s profile), as well as water, vinegar, ketchup, and baking soda to determine which chemical reactions will do the best job cleaning the coins.
Students can make predictions about which substances will do the best job of cleaning the coins and why, perform the experiment, observe, and of course, record their results.
Build a White House
Flex those fine motor muscles with a White House building challenge made just for the primary set! This President’s Day activity for pre-school or kindergarten includes a free download of the president’s home, and kids can add some creativity to their version of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Create a Presidential Timeline
Older students may benefit from completing a biography research project on a president of their choice! Why not use our Biography Timeline Template to help your students create a presidential timeline of their chosen figure?
This handy template helps students develop the skills of sequencing and recording changes over time.
If there’s one holiday better than any other for teaching kids about the importance of appropriate apostrophe placement, this is it! Despite not being officially Presidents’ Day, it’s widely accepted that the third Monday in February now celebrates all presidents — from President George Washington to President Joe Biden.
Discussing grammar in the classroom? Take the chance to discuss how the placement of the apostrophe after the “s” in Presidents changes the meaning of the holiday.
If I Were President …
Do you ever wonder what your students would do if they were president of the United States?
This free If I Were President… worksheet is perfect for writing centers to challenge students to think creatively as writers and also think about the world around them. Students can think about what they’d do if they were president of the United States or think more locally as president of a school government association. What would they change? What would they try to do, even if it might not be successful? This worksheet can fit nicely within the context of helping your students build a growth mindset.
This Presidents’ Day writing center activity can also be used as a research prompt. It is a great way to examine how other presidents have helped to develop the United States throughout history.
Hold a Mock Election
There’s no reason to wait until November to talk about elections with your class — in fact having the discussion around Presidents’ Day can take some of the heat out of the conversation that comes with parents at home talking about particular candidates in the lead-up to Election Day. Use this less politically charged time of the year to talk about the electoral process and hold a mock election in the class!
Grab an electoral process poster to help your kids keep track of all it takes!
Set Up a Presidents’ Day Word Wall Display
Start your Presidents’ Day lessons with a quick discussion regarding some of the vocabulary important to American history, from “democracy” to “Mount Vernon.” Our Presidents’ Day Word Wall Vocabulary resource has more than 55 vocabulary cards. Create a Presidents’ Day word wall chart in your classroom to help immerse your students in the day.
Why not have a class discussion about additional vocabulary that could be included?
Funky Uncle Sam
Help your students get into the patriotic spirit with this fun fine-motor activity. Students can draw lines and patterns to decorate Uncle Sam before cutting and pasting the template to a colorful piece of construction paper.
Bonus: Teach your students about the origins of the name Uncle Sam, and introduce them to the real-life Samuel Wilson, aka “Uncle Sam.”
Learn the History of Presidents’ Day
You can’t explore Presidents’ Day in the classroom without sharing this Presidents’ Day – Teaching Presentation. This slide show takes your students through the history of Presidents’ Day leading up to now. It also makes a great resource to share with any students who may be learning from home.
Presidential Oath of Office Vocabulary Activity
What does it take to become president? Besides earning enough votes to win the electoral college, the president must be willing to take the official oath of office. Download the free Presidential Oath of Office Vocabulary Activity to your activities to expand on students’ understanding of new words.
Help your students decode the message behind the oath by researching the definition, synonym, and antonym of the information used in the oath. See more Inauguration Day activities, including a word scramble, write your own inaugural address, and a “Build Your Own Presidential Cabinet” activity.
Presidents’ Day Finger Puppets
Young students will be so excited to use these Presidents’ Day Finger Puppets. Print the puppet template on cardstock, and place them in your writing center for some fun dramatic and imaginative play.
Discuss each president with your class and try one of the following activities:
- Practice identifying coins or presidents.
- Practice identifying coins by value, or adding and subtracting coins together.
- Use the templates to write facts about each president and work on handwriting skills.
- Use the puppets to present some facts to the class in ‘character’ as one of the represented presidents.