“History is boring” is often the general consensus of school kids. It’s a failure of educators to take something as thrilling as the establishment of our nation and reduce it to a series of facts and dates, only to be regurgitated back out of bored little minds who won’t retain much of it past college. As home educators, let’s shake it up and help the next generation understand that history is a living thing with real people, and it’s still being created!
President’s Day is the third Monday in February, and it’s a great chance to spark their imaginations and get them thinking of Washington and Lincoln as inspirational people, not just old men that lived long ago. Let’s look at some ways to do this:
• Why not manage a Presidential campaign? Have your kids pretend Washington and Lincoln are alive today and running for President. What would be a good way to promote them? Imagination comes into play; they can create videos, write commercial spots, and anything else their modern brains can come up with!
• There are so many entertaining ways to learn history, from animated DVDs, to coloring books, to puzzles and games. You could even “take the day off” from schoolwork in honor of the holiday and spend it watching movies, creating posters, and playing games, all using exciting educational materials regarding these two great men.
• Play dress up! Have students design their own Washington and Lincoln costumes. There’s nothing like some baby powder in the hair or a stovepipe hat made of poster board to get kids laughing, and amused kids become involved kids.
• Write some letters. Have students write a letter to George Washington or Abraham Lincoln about a troubling issue. Then write back, as the President, addressing the issue and asking relevant questions. See how long you can keep it going back and forth!
• Skip the cherry tree. Instead of traveling over ground that’s been well worn, find some facts about the Presidents that you may not have known before. Keeping it interesting for you, the educator, helps to make it interesting for your students. Did you know:
o George Washington never went to college. He joined the British Royal Navy at age 14.
o Abraham Lincoln was self-educated and had only eighteen months of schooling.
o Washington was the only founding father to free his slaves; he freed all 124 of them in his will.
o Lincoln was born in Kentucky, making him the first President from west of the Appalachians.
o George Washington was the product of a second marriage and grew up with nine brothers and sisters.
As you can see, there’s a lot to intrigue students about these two men. Have fun this President’s Day breathing new life into an old topic!