Presidents Day Lesson Plans & Resources

President's Day Lessons for K-12

Presidents Day was originally established in 1885 as “Washington’s Birthday” to celebrate President George Washington’s birthday on February 22. In 1971, the federal government renamed the holiday Presidents Day in order to honor all U.S. presidents, past and present. Share My Lesson has curated a collection of free lesson plans, educational resources and classroom materials on the accomplishments of U.S. presidents, first ladies, and the role and responsibilities of the president in government and in a democracy.

Grades K-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Essays

Presidential Elections

The purpose of this lesson is to have students learn about each presidential election and presidential terms. Students will understand how various events in history shaped campaigns. Why elections were won and lost. What accomplishments and disappointments each president experienced. Each election and presidential term served had its own mark on history. The presentation to the class is the order of the elections starting with Washington’s first election and proceeding forward. The lesson plan was created to engage students in the election process and create interest in the coming presidential election.
Constituting America’s 90 Day Study of The Intrigue of Presidential Elections and Their Constitutional Impact is a resource guide for students. This study supplies many of the important facts and figures of each presidential campaign. There are also intriguing facts, stories, and information about the person, campaign, time in office and after the presidency.

“No Event Could Have Filled Me with Greater Anxieties”: George Washington and the First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789

Phillip Hamilton’s “‘No Event Could Have Filled Me with Greater Anxieties’: George Washington and the First Inaugural Address” reminds us how precedent setting our first president was. Anxious that his lack of administrative experience might make his task as the executive of a new nation difficult, Washington nevertheless proved he was as expert at statesmanship as he was on the battlefield. Registration at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is required to view this resource.

The Acts of Congress

George Washington’s copy of the Acts passed at a Congress of the United States of America (New-York, 1789) contains key founding documents establishing the Union: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a record of acts passed by the first Congress. In the margins, Washington wrote “President,” “Powers,” and “Required,” underscoring the responsibilities of the first Chief Executive. Learn more about this rare volume in the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

The Constitution in Action: Strict vs. Loose Construction

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students in the Early Republic and asks them to engage with questions of Constitutional interpretation faced by President Washington and the First Federal Congress. Did the Constitution empower Congress to charter a national bank? Finance and maintain lighthouses? Regulate working conditions of merchant seamen? Support higher education?

Congress, the President, and the War Powers (Fundamental Principles of Government)

This lesson will explore the implementation of the war-making power from the first declared war under the Constitution—the War of 1812—to the Iraq War. Using primary sources, students will investigate how the constitutional powers to initiate war have been exercised by the legislative and executive branches at several key moments in American history. They will also evaluate why and how the balance of authority in initiating war has changed over time, and the current balance of power.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Federal Government
Lesson Plans

Early Presidents (CKHG Unit)

Early Presidents and Social Reformers

This unit (first half of Early Presidents and Social Reformers) focuses on the first seven presidents of the United States. Across 9 lessons, students learn about how the early presidents organized the federal government, built a national capital, directed a second war with Great Britain, more than doubled the size of the country, and formulated a “hands-off” foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere.

Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Executive Branch/Presidency
Assessments