Presidents’ Day is a great time for kids to learn some presidential trivia, and maybe even a little bit of U.S. history in the process. Here are a handful of fun facts and activities to get everyone involved in the holiday. Who knows, they might even ask you to take them to the library (or at least Google it) to learn more about a president!
- Our first Presidents’ Day was on Feb. 22, 1885, in honor of George Washington’s birthday. Rutherford B. Hayes signed the bill to make it a federal holiday in 1879. It wasn’t until 1971 that the U.S. government changed the holiday to the third Monday in February.
- Long before Presidents’ Day was established, George Washington’s birthday was celebrated across the United States during his lifetime.
- While most of us connect Presidents’ Day to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln (who was also born in February), there are a total of four U.S. presidents with February birthdays. Can’t name the other two? They were William Harrison and Ronald Reagan.
- In addition to being our first president, George Washington is notable for being the only president unanimously elected by all state representatives, and for being one of only 2 U.S. presidents who signed the U.S. Constitution. James Madison is the other president who signed it.
- James Madison was the shortest president at 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 100 pounds. Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson are tied for tallest president at 6 feet 4 inches tall.
- Martin Van Buren was the first president to be born as a citizen of the United States. The presidents before him were all born as British subjects. Especially interesting since our presidents of today must be born as U.S. citizens!
- James K. Polk was the first president to have his photograph taken while in office, and Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to appear on television.
- Plan ahead:
- Plan a visit to Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum later this year. The museum is currently closed for renovation, but you can find Truman-related trivia here in the meantime.
- Take a road trip to Abilene, KS, for a look inside President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s life and presidency at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home. Drive time is a little over 2 hours each way!
- Plan a trip to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, or just learn about this incredible monument online
- Take a virtual tour of the White House.
- Plan a visit to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Money Museum (just not on Presidents’ Day) to look at coins available during each presidential term. Or just line up coins and bills in your own house and share what you know about each president you see. Then make coin rubbings with paper and crayon.
- Create your own Lincoln’s log cabin or cherry tree in honor of Washington.
- Put a different perspective on things:
- Learn 23 Facts about the White House from Fly Guy
- get a kid’s perspective on being president in this Fun Facts from Cool School video
- watch Presidents Day on PBS, a kid-friendly series that features 60-second videos on every former president, from George Washington to Barack Obama
- or check out the always-darling Kid President interview with then President Barack Obama