Washington’s Birthday, which is widely known as “Presidents’ Day”, is the name of a United States federal holiday that is celebrated on the third Monday in February. The exact date of course varies, for example the holiday fell on February 19th in 2007, and falls on February 18th in 2008.
The holiday has been marked by the federal government since 1880, and was originally a celebration of George Washington’s birthday (Washington was born on February 22nd). Over the years, the holiday has been also adopted as a state holiday by many US states, and theme of the holiday has also expanded to include other Presidents too, especially Abraham Lincoln, who was born on February 12th. In Alabama for example, the holiday is known as “Washington and Jefferson Day”, and in Massachusetts, although the holiday is known as “Washington’s Birthday”, the governor issues an annual proclamation honoring the Presidents who came from the state (John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge, and John F. Kennedy).
Most schools are closed on Presidents’ Day, and in has in fact become increasingly common for schools to close down for a whole week around the holiday as a “mid-Winter recess”. Educators also often take the opportunity to use the period around the holiday to teach student’s about the country’s Presidents, especially Washington and Lincoln.
One educational and fun activity that teachers may wish to consider as part of their Presidents’ Day activities is playing Presidents’ Day Bingo. The idea is quite simple: you play bingo with your class, as a normal game (with the teacher as caller and the students playing the game), but using bingo cards containing the names of US Presidents (or words related to Washington or Lincoln if you prefer). Don’t worry about the materials – you can print off cards like these very easily from your computer – either by downloading free Presidents’ Day bingo printables off the Internet, or by using affordable and easy-to-use bingo card creation software.
One of the nice things about bingo is that you can tinker with the game play depending on how much of an educational message you want to build into the game, and the age of your students. For example, if you want a longer game, require students to mark all the squares on the cards, rather than just a line, before claiming a “Bingo”. You can also have discussions about the various Presidents as their names are called out – one idea might be to assign each student a different President before class to study, and if that President’s name comes up during the game, that student must stand up and briefly describe that President’s career.