5 Fun Facts and 4 Great Activities for Presidents' Day!
1. Happy Birthday, Mr. President…Or Not.
Did you know Presidents' Day is never actually celebrated on Washington’s Birthday?
Due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that established the observance of certain holidays on Mondays in an effort to increase the number of three-day weekends for federal employees and boost the travel industry, Presidents' Day is assigned the third Monday in February each year.
2. Lincoln’s Birthday + Washington’s Birthday = Presidents' Day?
The Uniform Monday Holiday Act strikes again. By defaulting to celebrating Presidents' Day the third Monday of February, that places the holiday in the week of February 15-21 which also falls between Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) and Washington’s birthday (February 22), but never includes either date.
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3. What fun party trick did President James A. Garfield have?
James A. Garfield could write with both hands in different languages—at the same time! Ask your students how this could have helped him as a president. Look up images of his handwriting to show your students. The cursive that Garfield used can be tricky to read and write. Did you know that Handwriting Without Tears uses a simple, vertical style of cursive that makes it easy for children to learn? Watch this video to see how easy it is!
4. Why is the Oval Office oval?
The oval shape was chosen to accommodate a “levee.” During the time of George Washington’s office, a levee was when guests of the president would enter the room, bow to the president, introduce themselves. Once the guests introduced themselves, they’d form a circle and await a formal greeting from the president. The shape of the Oval Office was designed to accommodate this practice.
5. What kind of animal did President Woodrow Wilson keep on the White House lawn?
If you walked past the White House during President Woodrow Wilson’s office, you wouldn’t need to be alarmed to see a flock of sheep grazing on the famous lawn. At its peak, the flock reached 48 sheep! The sheep saved resources (money and manpower) by eating the grass and keeping it trimmed. A bonus? Once shorn, the barnyard animals raised $52,823 for the Red Cross through an auction of their wool.
Try these four fun activities to complement your American History lesson plans and Presidents’ Day celebrations:
- Click here for an informative crossword puzzle on the three branches of government.
- Have your students practice handwriting and their independent writing and send a letter to the POTUS:
The President of the USA (or write the president’s name)
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
- Can your students name which four presidents are carved into Mount Rushmore? Have your kids color the famous landmark with this awesome download from National Geographic: Illustrator Mary Crooks.
- Have a minute? Learn about any US President in 60 seconds with these videos from PBS.
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