Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Hall of Presidents

Every February teachers have so much to choose from to teach their students about. From Groundhog's day to Valentine's Day to Dental Health there are so many interesting concepts happening in February.

My personal favorite concept to teach in February is Presidents Day. The activity I have been doing with my class for NINE years now is a hallway hit at my school. The other teachers in the school stop by my classroom at the end of January to see if the President Project has started. The numerous compliments I receive year after year is just one of the reasons it's my favorite social studies project of the school year.

Here is how we start:

First the students select a president they would like to research. After the presidents are selected I send the list of presidents down to our fabulous media specialist and she pulls the books for my class.

Next, the students begin their research using the question papers. During their research we find out so many interesting and intriguing facts about every president. The research brings our classroom together as we find out about father and son presidents, presidents who beat out other presidents in races, or presidents who made a historic impact on our country.

Research papers used by the students are broken into four papers to then create four paragraphs.

Once the students are done their research they then begin their rough drafts in their writer's notebooks. After they are done we have a teacher-student writing conference before they begin putting their president together.

Now, comes another part of why this is a favorite project of mine. The students will create a president body to write their final copy in. After they write their final copy they color and design the president's suit. They trace their hands on manila paper and cut them out to glue to their president. They also create shoes for their president and lastly make something that symbolizes their president for their president to hold.

In Step 11 and 12, you see the presidents John Adams and Richard Nixon. The student who researched John Adams decided to put the White House in his hands because he was the first president to live in it and Richard Nixon is holding the Earth because he was the first president to travel to all 50 states and to Russia!

When it's time for the students to make something that symbolizes their president it truly shows how much they have learned during their research. This also has given me a crazy amount of president trivia facts that one would only know if you were an avid president researcher.

Like did you that William Taft got himself stuck in a bath tub and six of his workers had to get him out? or that a reporter sat on John Quincy Adams' clothes until they got an interview with him or that Richard Nixon shaved 2-3 times a day because his beard grew that quickly. How about Gerald Ford's favorite snack of cottage cheese and ketchup!

These are just a few of the interesting facts that my students have found out while researching.

I hope that if you are having a hard time to decided what to teach in February that you give the Presidents a try. It's a great activity that teaches students about researching a topic, writing an informational text, connecting with each other and having some interesting conversations from cool research facts!


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