Take your family's Presidents Day up a notch this year with these activities designed to teach kids about presidential history while having fun. Whether you want to get the whole family out of the house or snuggle in for some online learning and homegrown activities, educational adventures await your family this February.
Outings to Celebrate President's Day
National Park Service Junior Ranger Activity (Washington, DC): The most visible tributes to the presidents can be found along the National Mall. If weather permits and your kids are up for some exercise, take a self-guided tour of the National Mall to view the monuments using the National Park Service's Junior Ranger Activity Booklet as a Guide. For information about visiting the Washington Monument see our Kid Trips review here.
Madame Tussauds' Presidents Gallery (Washington, DC) - families can visit lifelike wax figures of all the Presidents in this permanent interactive exhibition featuring important moments in presidential history. Online advance ticket purchases over President's Day weekend (February 13-16) are discounted 45%.
Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens (Alexandria, VA) - From February 14-16, 2015, the Mount Vernon Estate will hold special events daily to commemorate the life of George Washington. Families may even run into President Washington and other colonial figures while strolling the grounds. Admission is free on Monday, February 16, and on Washington's Birthday (February 22), purchase any 2 admission tickets for $22.
National Portrait Gallery Family Day (Washington, DC) - On February 15, the Portrait Gallery will host a President-themed Family Day with crafts and performances especially for children. The Portrait Gallery features portraits of all 44 U.S. Presidents. A new 3D Portrait of President Obama is also on view February 13-15. Free.
George Washington Birthday Parade (Old Town Alexandria, VA) - On February 16, 2015, Old Town Alexandria hosts the nation's largest president's day parade. Bundle-up, bring your flags, and enjoy one of the most festive days in Old Town historical, community and youth groups, bands, horses and canines. Many of the Historical Alexandria sites offer free admission on Parade Day too, including Gadsby's Tavern Museum, the Friendship Firehouse Museum, The Lyceum and more. Free.
Revolutionary War Day at Fort Ward Park (Alexandria, VA) - On February 15, reenactors will bring the revolutionary war to life with a recreated encampment and battle reenactment between British and Colonial troops. Free.
Ford's Theatre & Museum (Washington, DC) - The infamous site of Lincoln's assassination presents educational plays, tours, and a small museum. Student Matinees of "The Widow Lincoln" will be performed on February 12 & 19 and a guided Tour of the Theatre is offered on February 15. Virtual tours, videos, and Junior Ranger Activity Booklet can also be found online. Advance purchase of performance tickets is recommended.
Online Activities for Presidents Day
The Democracy Project by PBS Kids gives kids a chance to create their own printable campaign poster and fill out an online application to be President and then follow a Presidential agenda for the day. While choosing how they'll use their time in office (by walking the dogs in the Rose Garden, talking on the phone with astronauts, greeting the Queen of England, etc.), kids learn fun facts about Presidential History. Kids can learn even more about democracy in action by casting online ballots for important issues, filling in the blanks on presidential trading cards and creating campaign buttons.
Mountvernon.org has many online resources including a virtual tour of George Washington's historic home, an online Encyclopedia of the colonial era, interactive maps, and a series of short videos that explore the lives of colonial figures and the events surrounding the Battle of Yorktown.
Kids.gov provides links to National Historic Sites such as Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, online Library of Congress stories about the Presidents, U.S. Government Publishing Office "Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids" (which breaks down information for different ages), and more.
The National Museum of American History has hands-on activities for kids and features historic artifacts from presidential terms in the online gallery "The American Presidency A Glorious Burden". After reading a famous letter to Abraham Lincoln written by an 11-year-old named Grace, your kids may even be inspired to write to President Obama with their own suggestions.
Lincoln's Cottage President Lincoln's Cottage has several online multimedia programs including the award-winning Lincoln's Toughest Decisions: Debating Emancipation, videos and photos of interviews, past events, and other programs.
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