Every year on the third Monday of February, Americans celebrate this federal holiday to recognize and commemorate U.S. presidents—both past and present. And while it may be an exciting day off from school and work, there is so much more to Presidents’ Day than that. As a parent, do your kids understand exactly what we honor on this day and why?
Presidents’ Day is a perfect time to talk with your kids about the freedoms they are blessed to enjoy in this country and how past presidents have worked tirelessly to make these freedoms possible. By talking about the accomplishments of America’s presidents this Presidents’ Day, your kids can come away with an appreciation for all that our forefathers sacrificed to ensure we could enjoy the privileges we have today, which can serve as a powerful reminder of just how extraordinary their lives in America truly are.
Here’s what you need to know about Presidents’ Day – including historical facts and fun activities for celebrating with your kids!
How Did Presidents’ Day Begin?
Presidents’ Day was established in 1885 in honor of President George Washington’s February 22nd birthday. Federal banks, offices, and businesses across the country closed to pay the “Father of Our Country” homage every year on February 22nd. The holiday was eventually broadened (although not officially) to also recognize and honor Abraham Lincoln, born on February 12th.
And then, in 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed, which mandated that certain public holidays must fall on Mondays. This led to Presidents’ Day being held on the third Monday of February as a special day to salute every United States commander-in-chief, past and present. However, to this day, Presidents’ Day is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” at the federal government level.
Why is Presidents’ Day Important?
Presidents’ Day reminds us we are all part of something bigger than ourselves, celebrating the courage and bravery of leaders like George Washington, who shaped America into what it is today. It is a powerful reminder to cherish every moment of freedom and liberty because many have sacrificed so much to make this possible. Celebrating Presidents’ Day with your kids can help them develop a deeper understanding of our nation’s history and appreciate the freedoms we enjoy in America today.
10 of the Best Ways to Celebrate Presidents’ Day With Your Kids
- Make a presidential paper chain.
Gather constriction paper, markers, scissors— and let your kids’ creative energy shine! Have each child make their own paper chain link representing one of their favorite presidents. Encourage your children to explore many different presidents and help them research to write a fact about each president on their link. When you’re finished, you will have a colorful decoration hanging proudly in your house while also taking an educational journey with your kids through American history.
- Act out famous speeches.
This is an excellent way for your kids to learn about famous speeches and have some fun at the same time! From George Washington’s Inaugural Address to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, or Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech, the possibilities are endless. This activity will not only allow your children to appreciate the accomplishments of our past presidents, but it will also sharpen their public-speaking skills as well. Whichever speech you choose, it will surely be an unforgettable experience for both you and your kids.
- Make presidential hats.
Let your kids’ imaginations soar as they create their own designs of the iconic top hat often associated with our nation’s presidents. Your kids can write inspiring quotes on them or draw symbols like the United States flag or other patriotic images that honor our presidents. Once you’re done, take a family picture of everyone in their hats and hang it up in the living room or share it with friends and family online!
- Go on an American-themed scavenger hunt.
Gather items related to America’s history and presidents – such as a flag, a copy of the Constitution, photographs of presidents, or even household items shaped like stars – and set off in search of each one. Not only will this get your kids up and moving, but you can use it as an opportunity to talk about America’s history and the many great leaders who have served as commander-in-chief.
- Make patriotic crafts.
Get out the finger paints, paper plates, popsicle sticks, yarn, glitter, or anything you have around the house, and let their creativity run wild! Your kids can construct mini Liberty Bells, paint portraits of presidents, or create red, white, and blue streamers…the possibilities are endless! These patriotic crafts will allow your children to express their love for America in fun and creative ways.
- Hold an election.
Let your kids see democracy in action by holding their very own election! They can campaign for their favorite candidate (real or imaginary) and vote on issues that are important to them. This is also a great opportunity to teach kids about the election process and how our government works.
- Decorate your home with American flags.
Allowing your children to help place flags around the home will foster their respect for our nation’s values and beliefs. Let the stars and stripes remind your kids to keep faith in the unity of our nation over decades, generations, and ever-shifting presidents—while honoring all those who paved the way for us.
- Visit a local museum.
Visiting a museum is a unique way to celebrate Presidents’ Day together as a family and make lasting memories while exploring some significant people and events that define us as Americans. Many museums even offer special programs and activities for kids on Presidents’ Day. Before you visit, however, be sure to check and see if your local museum has modified hours due to the holiday.
- Teach Your Kids About our Founding Fathers.
Presidents’ Day is the perfect time to teach your kids about our Founding Fathers who formed our nation and built the very foundation of America. Their stories of hard work, tenacity, and resilience are inspiring and can provide valuable lessons for any child. Teach your kids how some of our most influential leaders in U.S. history worked together to craft and sign the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Help them understand that behind the Founding Fathers are individuals whose pioneering spirit and commitment to freedom can still inspire us today.
- Visit your local library to read books about America’s presidents.
Your kids will be delighted to explore the shelves and discover interesting facts about America’s past leaders. This will allow them to explore the rich history and inspiring stories of our nation’s leaders, learning about the different contributions they have made and what it means to be president. From books filled with biographical information and captivating photographs to interactive stories—there are endless possibilities that will keep kids engaged while deepening their knowledge of our nation’s history and presidents.
Happy Presidents’ Day!
As we celebrate Presidents’ Day this year, let us remember the reasons behind the holiday and take advantage of teachable moments with our kids. Try out some of these fun activities to help your children understand more about America’s presidents, their accomplishments, and what this day means for us as Americans. Don’t pass up on an excellent opportunity for your family to come together and celebrate the greatness of America!