Monday, February 20, 2012

President's Day

by Beth Hammett

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Beth Hammett

President's Day was not always one day, and some educators may remember when February included two days dedicated to presidents: February 12 for President Abraham Lincoln and February 22 for President George Washington. Then, in 1971, the holidays were rolled into one and designated as President's Day, which was celebrated on the third Monday of the month.  

Why was the date changed? To give workers an additional federal holiday that fell on Monday. Former President Richard Nixon was credited with the bill that resulted in President's Day, but the push to do so began in the 1950s when states celebrated both Lincoln and Washington's birthdays. Even then federal administrators wanted a uniform national holiday, but governors failed to agree on a specific date. Therefore, the plan for President's Day was dropped. When the idea resurfaced again in 1970, it was corrected with House Bill 11582, which was implemented the following year. 

President's Day is much more than just a holiday--it's a day to celebrate our country's leaders. Many educators will reinforce important accomplishments and historical facts on the special day. Others will retell stories that portray presidents as human beings with empathy and humor. For example, Abraham Lincoln pardoned the first presidential turkey because his son begged to save Jack, who was destined for the family's Thanksgiving dinner. Teddy bears were named after Theodore Roosevelt when he failed to shoot a black bear on a hunt and a cartoonist illustrated him with a stuffed bear. Conspiracy theories, such as the  death of President Kennedy and President Lincoln, fascinate older students. Also, the strange parallels between the lives of Kennedy and Lincoln have become great topics for debates. 

Celebrating President's Day should be fun for students. Let them collaborate on projects that highlight unusual facts, as well as stating common knowledge, about our nation's leaders. February is a great month to incorporate the backgrounds of presidents into lesson plans, and check out the fabulous presidential lesson plans from Teachers Pay Teachers that makes learning about presidents educational and easy.    

Related Teachers Pay Teachers Products:
Top Ten Outstanding Presidents Word Puzzles  FREE!
Happy Birthday, George! A President's Learning Center Binder  FREE!
President's Memory Game  $2.49
Top Ten Oustanding Presidents: A Complete Unit for President's Day $3.00
President's Day PowerPoint and Interactive Quiz  $3.00
President's Day Project Packet  $3.00
Write About Lincoln and Washington Activities  $3.99
Positively Presidential  $4.00

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