First, let me share with you about one of my favorite ways to introduce a new unit. Remember when you went to college and learned about kiddos making connections and utilizing prior knowledge? Now, the fancy word for that is schema so feel free to impress your principal using this "schema activity" for an observation!
I researched a lot of facts about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and typed them up. (You could write facts on post-it notes or index cards too.) Some of them are serious, and some of them seem silly- kids LOVE the silly ones! Before we read or watch anything, the kids sort them based on if they think the fact is true or false. The big teacher secret is that they are ALL true! As we read and learn together, we start moving all of the ones they thought were false over to true. It really keeps them revisiting what they think without doing a KWL for the unit.
To help with those ants in the pants, I created some Washington Wiggle and Abraham Activity cards. There are facts about the Presidents and matching movements or exercises to match. It's a great way to engage your active learners and get a much needed wiggle break! Here are some favorites you might want to try:
George Washington was a general in the Army. March in place for one minute.
The Washington Monument is in Washington DC. Clasp you hands and reach high above your head so you look like the Washington Monument. Hold your pose for 20 seconds.
Some people think it is lucky to find a penny that has Abraham Lincoln on top or heads up. Squat down and pretend to pick up a penny 10 times.
Abraham Lincoln wrote a famous speech called the Gettysburg Address. Use your finger to write your address in the air.
Building Macaroni Monuments and Macaroni Memorials is a fun, hands-on way to honor the presidents. You just need play-doh and some dried pasta. I would recommend spaghetti and rigatoni or rotini, but feel free to grab whatever you have in the pantry! Once the kids build their creations, they can draw their projects! These printables are FREE!
Another really easy hands-on activity is to let the kids make quills for their writing jobs! You just need markers, feathers, and washi tape. Pencils and pens work just fine too. Let the kids use the washi tape to attach the feather to the marker. After the unit, you can remove the feathers and there isn't anything sticky left on your markers. Kiddos love using "quills" at their writing center too!
It can be hard for little ones to make connections to history so I really like using response pages that ask kiddos to use their own words to tell what a president might think or say. This can tell you a lot about what really stuck with them! Letting them show what they know in a fun way makes history more exciting!
One of the best things about kid art and writing is that is makes an awesome display without a lot of work. Just add a cute header and you're set. You can get this All About the Presidents banner and matching ones for Abraham Lincoln and George Washington for FREE. Just click on the picture below.