Teachable moments exist everywhere.
There is more than just love in the air in the month of February. On the third Monday of this month, Americans get a long weekend to observe Presidents’ Day, which was originally created to celebrate the birth of President George Washington. Today, it has morphed into an opportunity to teach kids about the history of all presidents and to infuse some creative ways to make these lessons fun—and build memories along the way.
The good news is that each of these ideas can be adapted to the age of your littles, and they include activities for full family participation. In fact, parental engagement is encouraged (and we bet you’ll learn some new things along the way).
Check out these seven ideas to help you celebrate Presidents’ Day with the mini-citizens in your life:
Pick a number
Whether your kiddo is just learning how to count or has mastered numbers, this activity combines math and history. Using a jar, put small pieces of paper inside numbered 1-45 (one for every president). Each member of the family picks a number out of the jar, and they have to research fun facts to share about their president.
Please note: If you do not want your child using the internet for this exercise, taking a trip to the local library is highly recommended because they will have age-appropriate books on the presidents.
Red, white, and blue rocks
Last year, geology-style fun hit towns across the country. People were painting rocks and hiding them for other people to find. This activity created both conversation and goodwill. The presidential version of this same trend is to paint rocks in colors of red, white, and blue or create the image of the president of your child’s choosing.
Create a puppet show
This budget-friendly project can be done using items in your house and a whole lot of imagination. Re-enactments are a popular way to study history and make it come alive. Let your children create a script that includes characters based on what they’ve learned about the U.S. presidents. Suggestions include making puppets, drawing stick figures, or having kids direct a play for all members of the household (furry family included—presidential pets have run the halls of the White House for decades).
Hold an election
Calling all candidates! Teach your littles about the democratic process by transforming your home into an election headquarters, complete with poster board signs, debates, and campaign promises. Let your kids craft speeches sharing ideas for their presidency.
Color that POTUS
This activity is easy for any age and Crayola has done all the work for parents. The company offers free coloring pages of every U.S. president along with some fun facts at the bottom. Browse the pages here and print directly from the website.
Honest Abe’s log cabin
Move over gingerbread houses.
Several presidents had humble beginnings in log cabins. What better way to teach your kids about dwellings of the past than by building one—and making it edible. Food Network shows step-by-step instructions for construction a pretzel log cabin using pretzels and cream cheese.
Sweet treats in the name of patriotism
Even though historians debunked the story of President Washington and the cherry tree, it is known that he had an affinity for the fruit. What better way to celebrate his birthday than with a cherry-filled cake or pie decorated with white icing to represent his signature hair!
Don’t like cherry? Rice Krispies has a great recipe to transform your treats into American flags.
The calendar provides many opportunities throughout the year to turn festivities into learning lessons. Presidents’ Day, like other civic holidays, gives us a chance to teach children about history in a hands-on way. And the sky’s the limit on letting those creative imaginations run wild.