When teaching my own kids I don’t just look for cute activities around a theme, like Presidents Day. I mean making a puppet of George Washington would be fun, but what would they learn? I always approach a lesson from the idea of what do I want them to learn from this and then I design an activity or discussion that teaches the facts or the principles I wan them to absorb. So there’s nothing wrong with making the puppet of George, but it should be surrounded by a real life lesson.
Presidents Day began as a celebration of George Washington (the official name is still Washington’s Birthday–the name “Presidents Day” was a marketing ploy of the 1980′s) and falls on the third Monday of February. Washington’s actual birthday was February 22nd and originally the day was celebrated at this time, but Americans have a thing for three day weekends so it was adjusted accordingly. When we celebrate Presidents Day at my house we usually focus just on Washington, partly to keep it simple and partly because he’s the most admirable man and president in our country’s history. Washington is a person I really want my children to emulate.
So today I will read my children a story about the humility of Washington and what made him truly a great man. You can find it here. Then we will discuss the story:
- What did Washington do when the corporal (a corporal is just above a private in rank) refused to help his men?
- Why do you think Washington did this?
- What do you think the corporal thought after Washington told him who he, Washington, was?
- What do you learn about Washington’s character from this story?
- Re-enact one of the battles that Washington generaled during the Revolutionary War: The Battle of Long Island or the Battle of Trenton.
- Learn more about Mt. Vernon, Washington’s house, by taking a virtual tour.
- Washington is 279 years old. Can you count that high? Practice counting and skip counting to 279. Find the factors of 279. What is the prime factorization of 279?
- The site where you read the story of Washington and the Corporal has many more interesting and little known anecdotes about the Revolutionary War period. Read some of them. The stories can also be purchased as a book called American History Stories You Never Read in School . . . But Should Have by Mara Pratt.
- High Schoolers and adults will enjoy reading the Real George Washington .