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Monday Morning Ready02.02.2018
Jumpstart Your Week!

Think you’ve got a firm handle on the presidents? The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia from Smithsonian Books just might make you question how comprehensive your head-of-state knowledge actually is. President’s Day is February 19 and to commemorate the holiday, we offer some nuggets excerpted from the book that reveal a few unexpected facts about the sartorial habits, social practices and defining characteristics of our commanders-in-chief.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Which fact listed in the article surprised you the most? Why?

Grade 5-6

Which fact listed in the article impressed you the most? Which impressed you the least? Why?

Grade 7-8

According to the article, Abraham Lincoln attended séances at the White House. Lincoln died more than 100 years ago. What do you think would happen if people learned that a president elected within the past 20 years or so had done this?

Grade 9-10

According to the article, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first president to name a woman to his cabinet. This happened 85 years ago. In what ways, if any, do you think the United States would be different if women had been included in the highest levels of government sooner? How would the country be different if more women were included now?

LESSON PLAN
Make a Top 10 Presidential List

PROCESS: 

  1. Challenge students to compile a chronological list of all U.S. presidents. Fill in any presidents that students may have missed. Then encourage students to share well-known facts they know about each president.
  2. In small groups, with a partner or on their own, have students select one president. Instruct them to conduct research to learn more about the president's life. Challenge them to compile a list of 10 fascinating or lesser known facts about that president that may surprise people.
  3.  Once students have completed their lists, have them write a brief essay. Instruct them to identify the fact that surprised them the most and explain why they think people would be surprised by each of the facts they uncovered.

ASSESSMENT: 

Have students share their lists with the class. After all facts have been revealed, instruct each student to write his or her favorite fact on a piece of paper. Tally the results to create a classroom list of the 10 most surprising presidential facts for Presidents' Day.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
Divide the class into small groups. Assign each group one president. As students conduct research, provide assistance as needed. Challenge each group to compile a list of 10 facts about their assigned president. Instruct group members to work together to write their essay.
Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to select a president. There can be repeats. Give students time to conduct research to compile a list of 10 facts about their selected president. Once a group's list is complete, have each group member write a brief essay. Instruct students to identify the fact that surprised them the most and explain why they think people would be surprised by each fact on the group's list.
Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct each pair to select a president. There can be repeats. Give partners time to conduct research to compile a list of 10 facts about their selected president. Instruct them to include items relating to the president's childhood, education, family life and presidency. When their list is complete, have partners work together to write a brief essay. Instruct them to identify the fact that surprised each partner the most. Challenge them to explain why they think people would be surprised by each fact they uncovered. 
Grades 9-10:
Instruct each student to select a president. There can be repeats. Have students conduct research to compile a list of 10 facts relating to the childhood, education, family life, personality and presidency of their selected president. Challenge them to identify a credible source for each fact they include. Then have students write a brief essay. Encourage them to identify the fact that surprised them the most and explain why they think people would be surprised by each fact on their list.
VISUAL RESOURCES: U.S. PRESIDENTS
SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
"It’s Treason, by George!"
Can you imagine the United States without presidents? Or reciting an Oath to the King instead of the Pledge of Allegiance? That’s exactly what schoolmates Eric, Dominique, Ajay and Josephine encounter when they go to school one day. You can find out how the fearsome foursome thwart this wicked plot to change history in this book, which is the third graphic novel of the Secret Smithsonian Adventures series.

Portraits of the Presidents
Activities Use the activities, games and puzzles in this teacher resource guide from the National Portrait Gallery to enhance students’ knowledge of American presidents and the role of the presidency in American history.

Mr. President
Did you know that Thomas Jefferson offered his own huge book collection as a replacement when British troops burned the Library of Congress? Or that John F. Kennedy was the youngest ever elected president—and the youngest to die in office? Click on each portrait in this activity from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access to learn more about the U.S. presidents.

General George Washington, Military Leader
This lesson plan guides students to discuss George Washington’s leadership during the War of Independence and the qualities of great leaders. The lesson includes background information, full-color primary sources and a transcript of a letter about George Washington that was written by his officers.

Dear Mr. President
In this lesson from the National Museum of American History, students analyze a letter written by 11-year-old Grace Bedell to President Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Students then write their own letters to the president of the United States.

The Death of Harrison
In this lesson from the National Portrait Gallery, students analyze portraits to learn of the events surrounding the death of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler’s succession to the presidency. They apply their historical knowledge and analysis by writing newspaper articles that reflect their understanding of these events.

“Presidents’ Day” Doesn’t Actually Exist
Despite what furniture stores and car dealerships tell you, officially, we’re really just celebrating George Washington’s birthday. Read this Smithsonian article to learn how the first president’s birthday became a federal holiday that honors a mash-up of other events.
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