Guest post by Christine Lindstrom of Lindstroms on the Road.
February is full of small holidays that give lots of opportunities for fun theme-related learning. Groundhog Day lends itself easily to conversations about seasons and weather. Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to read poetry and try your hand at writing your own. And President’s Day opens plenty of opportunities to study history, civics, and literature. As roadschoolers, there are also many places to visit to gain hands-on knowledge about two of America’s most beloved presidents.
Keep reading for more ideas to help inspire the young leaders in your life through the example of Mr. Washington and Mr. Lincoln.
Books to Read
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have captured the hearts and imagination of Americans for generations, and there is no shortage of books that have been written about them, for readers of all ages. Walk into any library this week and there’s sure to be a display full of great books about these two larger-than-life American heroes.
When there are so many choices, it can be hard to narrow it down and choose what to read. We will be reading many of the titles available for free through Amazon Freetime:
- Weird but True Facts about Presidents
- An Illustrated Timeline of US Presidents
- L is for Lincoln
- National Geographic Kids George Washington
- National Geographic Kids Abraham Lincoln
- My Itty-Bitty Bio – George Washington
- My Itty-Bitty Bio – Abraham Lincoln
We will also revisit some of my kids’ personal favorites: Magic Treehouse: Abe Lincoln at Last! (plus the companion Fact Tracker: Abraham Lincoln) by Mary Pope Osborne, and George Washington’s Teeth by Deborah Chandra, just for fun.
Videos to Watch
Sometimes it seems like nothing captures our kids’ attention quite like a video. Use the power of the video for good to teach them more about Abe, George, and other US presidents along the way.
The website BrainPop has a page about George Washington and one about Abraham Lincoln for kids. Both present an educational video with chances to enhance their learning through quizzes, games, and other interactive features.
For more videos for kids relating to President’s Day, including read-along picture books and other fun resources, check out this playlist I created on YouTube.
Places to Visit
Both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln became strong and gifted leaders who led the United States during pivotal times in our history. Yet their early lives and paths to the presidency couldn’t be more different. Visit the Abraham Lincoln birthplace in Kentucky and the George Washington birthplace in Virginia so that kids can see the contrast for themselves and learn that anyone can grow up to be a great leader.
Many important places connected with these two great men have been memorialized and protected as historic sites. Roadschoolers and casual travelers alike are sure to cross paths with some of them and should take the opportunity to visit and be inspired.
Places to Visit to learn about George Washington
- George Washington’s boyhood home at Ferry Farm in Stafford, VA
- Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon, VA
- Valley Forge National Historical Park, Valley Forge, PA
- Washington’s Crossing Historic Park, Washington Crossing, PA
- Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA
- Washington Monument, Washington, DC currently closed to visitors
Places to Visit to learn about Abraham Lincoln
- Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Lincoln City, IN
- Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Springfield, IL
- Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, PA
- Ford’s Theatre, Washington, DC
- Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
Of course, Washington and Lincoln both feature prominently on Mount Rushmore in Keystone, SD.
Check for special President’s Day events planned at many of these locations!
Crafts and Activities to Respond
It’s always a great idea to give kids an opportunity to respond to what they are learning. This helps them process their own thoughts, and gives you insight into what they are taking away from the experiences you give them.
This can be as simple as giving them a piece of paper and a pencil and asking them to write or draw something they learned. It can also take on more creative forms. Here are some good ideas and tools that can be downloaded for free!
“If I were President…” writing task – a free printable that comes with a bonus word search, poem about the presidents, and some other fun extras.
How to Draw Washington and Lincoln – a directed portrait drawing activity.
President’s Day Word Work (upper elementary) – practice alphabetizing, spelling, phonics patterns, and other language skills, all with a President’s Day theme.
President’s Day Theme Addition/Subtraction fact review game (lower elementary)
Compare and contrast George Washington and Abraham Lincoln – writing activity including Venn Diagrams
For more craft ideas, acrostic poems, math puzzles, art lessons and even President’s Day snacks (pretzel stick log cabin anyone?) check out my President’s Day board on Pinterest.
George Washington and Abe Lincoln might not be as cute as Punxsutawney Phil or as sweet as Valentine’s Day chocolates, but there’s no reason for them to take a backseat in the fun learning department this month! Learning about these important historical figures and walking where they walked might just inspire the next generation of heroic leaders to follow in their footsteps.