Presidents’ Day is a fantastic look into how common history is sometimes created from people’s misunderstandings and patriotic expression. The history of Presidents’ Day is that it is commonly used to celebrate the U.S. Presidents with specific notes of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln since their birthdays both land in February.
A Little Bit of History
In 1968, Congress passed the Uniformed Holidays Act that officially fixed the third Monday in February Washingtons Birthday, not actually Presidents’ Day. U.S. citizens assumed it was to celebrate both Washington’s (February 22nd) and Lincoln’s (February 12) birthdays, considering U.S. advertisers used the day to begin sales on items. This practice still continues today where companies advertise their sales for the Presidents’ Day Weekend, especially big cost items like furniture and cars.
To traditionally celebrate and learn about Presidents’ Day with Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, use this eMediaVA resource item from U.S. Department of State. However, if you want a bigger dive, a Presidential Scavenger Hunt using the 60-Second Presidents Playlist is a great activity that can be adapted for grades 2-12. See the example Scavenger Hunt below and Happy Presidents’ Day!
60-Second Presidents Scavenger Hunt
Directions: Use the 60-Second Presidents Playlist from eMediaVA to find the President that matches the descriptions below. Then research the President that interests you most and write another 60-second biography with your favorite presidential facts!
- Who was the President who may have made a “Corrupt Bargain” in winning his election as President?
- Who was the Washington outsider who was a wealthy peanut farmer and governor of Georgia?
- Who was the President who fought against the Stalwarts but failed to enact long term change due to his untimely death?
- Who was the President of the Common Man that used the power of Presidential veto in a new way?
- Who was the President that was known as the Great Communicator because before he was elected President he was a radio host and an actor?
- List the Presidents who were all considered War Heroes and held the rank of General.
- List the Presidents who were not elected at all to be President.
- List at least 5 Presidents and their nicknames.
Writing Assignment: Out of the 46 Presidents of the United States, continue to research their lives and create your own “60 Second” Presidential Biography. Make sure to write in complete sentences that sequence their life! Don’t jump around from event to event, but make sure your biography grows through the stages of the president of your choice. Make sure to read it aloud and time yourself! It needs to be more than 30 seconds long but no longer than 60 seconds to read your biography.
Nick Dzendzel is a secondary social studies specialist in Virginia Beach Public Schools and an eMediaVA Ambassador.