What can kids do on Presidents’ Day? If you’ve ever asked this question, then we have what you need. This post shares fun, yet simple Presidents’ Day activities for upper elementary students. Not only will teachers get fresh ideas for what to do in the classroom, but we have some tips for parents too!
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Why Do We Celebrate Presidents’ Day with Upper Elementary?
What is the big deal with this holiday? Especially when kids are out of school on Presidents’ Day anyway!?
Well, there are several reasons why teachers and parents should honor the occasion each third Monday in February:
- learning the history of the Presidents’ in America also teaches aspects of American history that’s important for kids to know
- teachers and parents can highlight vital character traits through the lives of inspiring leaders
- understanding the President’s responsibilities can also help students understand how the government in America works
- various Presidents have played an important role in advancing the rights of marginalized groups of people
In addition to these reasons, I enjoy planting the seeds of hope for any students who lean towards a deeper interest in politics.
You never know if you may be helping to raise a future president!
Helping elementary students see the potential in this leadership role could light a fire 🔥 for a future career in politics.
1–Presidents’ Day Narrated Power Point Lesson
To kick off our list of ideas, I recommend starting with an engaging lesson giving an overview of the holiday with students.
A simple narrated Power Point lesson that highlights how this event became a holiday allows upper elementary students to learn why it’s celebrated each year.
The key is to make the lesson engaging and interesting!
So, instead of just flipping through a bunch of slides, use a narrated and animated Power Point that:
- allows you to press play and show it as a video
- includes outline worksheets with fill-in-the-blank sections–this keeps students accountable to follow along carefully
- has images–animated and real photographs–of past and current presidents for students to learn about
- adds interactive sections that are fun for students to complete
Starting your Presidents’ day activities for upper elementary students like this makes the holiday fun AND informative!
2–Play Mystery Pictures Biography Games
Another way to amp up the fun factor on this executive holiday involves something my students and I LOVE ❤️ : Mystery Picture Biographies.
Mystery pics take reading nonfiction to a whole new level. Here’s how they work:
- Students read the informational text passages on different former presidents through Google Slides. Each leader has pictures related to him, but there’s a catch: the pictures are all scrambled up.
- In order to see the pictures, students must correctly answer comprehension questions that allow them to “solve” the mystery picture.
Not only do students get to read more about the former presidents, but Google Earth slides are also included, which take students on a virtual field trip to places related to each president.
Making nonfiction reading fun is super important when celebrating Presidents’ Day.
Because the facts related to this holiday require researching information that some upper elementary students may find boring.
But using mystery picture activities jazzes up the research!
3–Research Presidents Using Kid-Friendly Sites
What are other ways to make research more fun for Presidents’ Day?
I recommend using sites such as:
- Duckster’s Presidents’ Day Page
- Kiddle.co also has different sections for the holiday
I especially love these two because the information is presented in a way that kids really understand.
Plus, these encyclopedia-themed websites for kids don’t have inappropriate ads or pop-ups.
4–Enjoy Presidents’ Day Read-Alouds
Reading good books just makes every event come to life even more!
I have found some really cool Presidents’ Day read-alouds for upper elementary. Here are some of my favorites:
- If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier
- The Next President by Kate Messner
- Who is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards
- Ellie May on Presidents’ Day by Hillary Homzie
- Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio
- Who Was George Washington? by Roberta Edwards
- Who Was Abraham Lincoln? by Janet Pascal
- Who Was Thomas Jefferson? by Dennis Brindell Fradin
Each of the books mentioned above are available in my Amazon storefront in the “Presidents’ Day Books” section. Click the image to see the full list of books.
As I find new ones, especially more diverse books for the holiday, I add them to that collection. 📚
5–Play Goldfish Games with Presidents’ Day Cards
Another easy activity I recommend is to play Goldfish and matching games with Presidents’ day flashcards and trivia cards.
If you’ve spent any time on this site, you know I adore small group instruction. 💖
Literacy centers and math centers are my jam! 🙌🏾
Getting students in groups of 3 to 4 to play presidential trivia is right up my alley.
This set of cards is my favorite because it has a portrait of each president on one side.
All the other important facts about that president are on the back.
Students are able to use this set for a Goldfish style matching game as they look at each portrait and try to match it with the correct name of the president.
6–Have Students Match Presidents with Faces on Money
This fun and easy activity for Presidents’ Day involves money. 🤑
See if your students can identify and match the correct president with coins or dollars that have their face.
Here’s how to set up this activity in your classroom:
- Put money and pictures of former presidents all around your classroom.
- Give students a clip-whiteboard with a dry erase marker.
- Have them walk around the classroom writing the names of each president that goes with the correct coin or dollar displayed.
If you don’t want students moving around the room, you could turn this into a SCOOT game instead.
When you combine this with any set of money task cards, it could be a fun math center during the week of Presidents’ Day.
7–Imagine Being President for a Day: Writing Activity
A final fun way to make this holiday memorable requires some writing and creative thinking.
I like to start this one with the FREE Kindle Unlimited book President for a Day by Laurel Handfield.
Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s reading program that I’ve used for years! I love it as a teacher and parent–and no, I’m not being paid to say that!
I pay $9.99 a month, which allows me to virtually rent or check out up to 10 e-books and magazines at a time.
You can return the reading material and get new reads at any time. There’s no limit to how many books you can check out a month.
This program has saved me SO much money on books and magazines! Plus, I don’t mind using e-books vs. physical books from time to time.
You can try Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days using my referral link here. That will allow you to showcase this book to your students for free during Presidents’ Day.
Once you read the book with students, have them imagine being the President of the United States for one day.
Then they can write things like:
- what they would change about America 🇺🇸
- how they would spend the day as president
- who they would want as their vice president, etc.
It can be hilarious to listen to how students would spend the day as president. This creative and fun writing activity is a neat way to celebrate the holiday.
How Do You Celebrate Presidents’ Day with Children at Home?
Since this holiday closes schools, many parents wonder how to celebrate with their kids at home.
Here are more easy activities you can do on Presidents’ Day with your children:
- Visit a National Park near your home if possible.
- Complete a timeline on Abraham Lincoln’s life (since his birthday is also in February, along with George Washington)
In addition to these ideas, you can definitely read any of the books mentioned above at home or at your local bookstore.
You can also do the same “President for a day” writing activity at home OR the trivia card game matching.
Plus, many communities have small parades or activities at the public library for Presidents’ Day weekend. Be sure to check your community events to see if there’s a fun local activity you can participate in.
What About Other February Events and Holidays?
This 28-day month is packed full of amazing things to do and celebrate with kids at school and at home.
Since the entire month of February is Black History Month, here’s a resource page with the top teaching resources for you:
Not only does February highlight Presidents and Black leaders, but there’s also these fun events to consider:
- Groundhog’s Day
- Valentine’s Day
- Chinese New Year
If you want to include facts about each of these, but feel strapped for time, these February nonfiction reading comprehension passages cover ALL of them for upper elementary students.
Even though February has a lot to offer, hopefully you got some good ideas to help you make Presidents’ Day fun and memorable.
Let me know in the comments section which of these Presidents’ Day activities for upper elementary kiddos you plan to use.
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