It can be hard to remember to squeeze in teaching about holidays—especially when school isn’t in session on the day in question! This collection of Presidents’ Day videos gives you age-appropriate material in short segments that you can use to inform your students about the history behind the holiday. Find other video collections here!
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A note about teaching history to young children: It can be difficult to know how or when to teach sensitive topics to young children. This short article from Mount Tamalpais School and this longer document from Learning for Justice offer teachers of primary students guidance in teaching about slavery. Since Washington’s and Lincoln’s presidencies both took place during periods of slavery in the U.S., planning how you might handle discussions involving enslaved people in a thoughtful way can help your lessons go smoothly.
Choose from the collection of Presidents’ Day videos below to give your little historians the chance to build up their background knowledge about the American presidency.
This first video, about five minutes long, gives students background on Presidents’ Day as a holiday and talks about how there is some disagreement about which president(s) the holiday should honor and what it should be called. I like that this video maker, Kerrie Fraser, introduces some new vocabulary and paces the video nicely for young viewers.
From The Kiboomers, this animated song is about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. This song is catchy and short. If you watch it a few times, students will be able to sing along and begin associating the two presidents with the currency they adorn.
Here’s a five-minute biography of George Washington from Free School. With narration over historical illustrations and artwork, some of this content might be a little complex for kindergartners. The video does a good job, though, of telling about Washington’s life in a nutshell.
From History, this short and cleverly animated video both tells and dispels the myth about young George Washington and his father’s cherry tree. This is a good piece of general knowledge for kids to have, as it has become such a famous legend.
Cool School made this next fun video. In this one, three animated children take a time machine back to gather information about Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware. Fiction interspersed with history will entertain children while also helping them build their background knowledge.
Moving on to Abraham Lincoln, this seven-and-a-half-minute video about the 16th president includes interesting facts and biographical information. The narration in this Learn Bright video uses simple language, but, as in the Washington biography, some of the content might go over your students’ heads. Consider pausing this one occasionally for discussion.
This video of I Am Abraham Lincoln, read aloud by author Brad Meltzer, focuses on Lincoln’s virtues and the importance of sticking up for others. You can find this book here on Amazon if you’d like to add it to your classroom library.
From Math Songs by NUMBEROCK, this 4.5-minute video is simply a song that runs through the names and images of all of the United States presidents from George Washington to the present. Watching the other Presidents’ Day videos and learning about the holiday may spark an interest in presidents in general. This song is a fun one to put on during transitions as a way to give students exposure to the names of the U.S. presidents.
Mama’s Got Mac presents this read-aloud video of Katherine Stier’s book If I Were President. This book teaches children about the various experiences and responsibilities the president has while also inviting them to dream about what they would do as president. This read-aloud version includes the informational front matter of the book, which is fairly long (though informative). If you wish to start where the story begins, skip to the 2:18 point.
This final video, from Art for Kids Hub, teaches children to draw the White House. Completing this simple directed drawing could be a fun accompaniment to an “If I Were President” writing prompt!
I hope this collection of Presidents’ Day videos for kids helps you out this February! If you have favorites that I missed, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll add them to the post.