With the help of a colonial Presidential crier children come to understand why we celebrate Presidents' Day and what makes it so special. They learn about George Washington and the important role he played in the formation of our country. Next, they learn about the life of Abraham Lincoln and his resolve to keep our country unified, making him one of our great civic leaders. Lastly, students are reminded to honor all of the presidents on this holiday.
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln worked hard to make our country free and independent. President's Day is a holiday to celebrate their work.
- Know that Presidents' Day is celebrated on the third Monday in February. Until 1971, both February 12 (Abraham Lincoln's birthday) and February 22 (George Washington's birthday) were celebrated as holidays. In 1971, President Richard Nixon changed it to one holiday for both events, the third Monday in February.
- Realize that on Presidents' Day, banks, schools, and many offices are closed. This is so we can have a day to remember some of the people who are responsible for all the freedoms that we have.
- Know some of the many things George Washington did to help the United States become a free and independent country.
- He led the American army to victory in the Revolutionary War against England. He did this for eight years, working and serving without being paid.
- He was elected to be in charge of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. He did this, even though he was very sick. There were many arguments and disagreements in some of these meetings, but Washington was able to keep the meetings going and the leaders from leaving.
- Many people wanted Washington to be king, but he refused to because they had just fought a war with England to get rid of the control of a king. Washington suggested that the country have a President instead of a king. The people would elect the President. He was elected the first President of our country in February of 1789.
- While President, he set the example of what a good President could do and how our country should be run.
- He served two terms as President then retired to Mount Vernon, where he kept busy visiting with people and writing letters.
- Realize that Washington's birthday has been celebrated since Revolutionary times. On the first public celebration, soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War with General Washington held a drum and fife concert for him, and canons were fired in his honor.
- Know that Washington is remembered as "The Father of our Country."
- Recognize some of the many ways Washington is honored. There are many monuments and statues for him all over the country. Schools, cities, streets, a state, and even the capital of our country are named after him. He is on the one-dollar bill and the quarter.
- Know some of the many things Abraham Lincoln did to help our country.
- He was born in a log cabin in Kentucky. Because he had to work to help his poor family, he did not get to go to school much. His honesty and willingness to do work earned him the nickname "Honest Abe." Although he did not go to school, he studied hard and became a lawyer.
- In 1861, he was elected the 16th President of the United States.
- Soon after becoming President, the Civil War began. Lincoln tried to keep the states together, but the Southern states did not want to be part of the country anymore.
- During the Civil War, Lincoln gave a famous speech called the "Gettysburg Address." It was given at a place where some of the fighting of the Civil War took place. Lincoln wanted to end the Civil War, keep the country together, and give all people their freedom, specifically the slaves.
- In 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all of the slaves.
- In 1865, after the Civil War ended, Lincoln was at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. A man named John Wilkes Booth sneaked in and shot President Lincoln.
- Recognize some of the ways Lincoln is honored. There is a large memorial in Washington, D.C., called the Lincoln Memorial. His picture is on the penny and the five-dollar bill.
- Realize that we celebrate Presidents' Day to help us remember and be thankful for the freedom those men helped give everyone in the United States. Also, Presidents' Day is a reminder to honor all the Presidents, not just Washington and Lincoln.
- Before viewing the video
Show the students a list or a poster that has all of the Presidents on it. See how many of them they recognize. Point out Washington and Lincoln as men that are especially honored on Presidents' Day. Ask the students if they know anything that Washington or Lincoln did that would make our country want to honor them.
- After viewing the video
- Display a calendar for the students to see. Point out Lincoln's birthday (February 12) and Washington's birthday (February 22). Explain to the students that the nation celebrates Presidents' Day on the third Monday of February.
- Split the class into two teams and have a competition. Take turns asking each team a question. You could tell them a fact or an accomplishment, and they have to tell you if it describes Washington or Lincoln. A correct answer awards the team a point. The team with the most points at the end wins.
- Holiday Introduction
- Introduction to Presidents Day
- George Washington
- Abraham Lincoln