Presidents' Day is coming up. If you're looking for a fun activity that will encourage students' interest in Presidential history, read on.
First you will need a copy of the book, What Presidents Are Made Of, by Hanoch Piven who is known for collage illustrations. In this particular picture book, the author writes about 18 of our Presidents and reveals interesting and lesser known tidbits which give us insight into the character of these former Commanders-in-Chief. For example, on Abraham Lincoln's page, Piven says that "PRESIDENTS are made of Humble Pie." He goes on to explain that Lincoln had a sense of humor and even poked fun at himself. When called "two-faced", Number 16 responded, "If I had another face, do you think I would wear this one?"
But what makes this book stand out are the collage portraits of these American leaders. Take a look at the book cover below.
In Lincoln's portrait, one eye is a button from the Civil Rights movement that says, "LET FREEDOM RING." The other eye is represented by a canon to remind us of the Civil War. The most powerful of symbols, however, are the black chains that are breaking apart, representing the broken chains of slavery. Clearly this portrait of Lincoln is serious and somber and reminds us of an important milestone in our nation's history.
What you don't see on the cover is Lincoln's other portrait in which he imagines himself as a very cool dude with spiked hair and wearing sunglasses, an American flag earring, and a black leather jacket! Piven has a sense of humor as well!
After sharing this book with your students, allow each to select a president to research. My recommendation is to have students choose from presidents who are not spotlighted in Piven's book. In my free product, I provide a list of student-friendly biographical websites and a Presidential Fact Sheet on which to record information.
Once students know more about their President, have them brainstorm items that could be used to represent his personality. Then have them sketch ideas for how to use these items in their Presidential Portraits. The next step will be collecting the paraphernalia needed. Each student could be given the responsibility of locating these things for their own portrait, or you might compile a list to be sent home to parents asking for donations. Sturdy card stock or tag board and lots of glue will be required to support these portraits!
When students have completed their works of art, do a "museum walk" to share the Presidential portraits and information. Have students clear their desk tops and place their portraits and Presidential Fact sheets there. Students will rotate from desk to desk to read the fact sheets and view the portraits. When the viewing is done, have students return to their seats and ask the class for the most interesting or unusual facts they learned as they walked through the Presidential Museum. You might also post the students' art and research on a hallway wall. (See the photo below.)
When I utilized this activity with my 3rd graders, it was an historical moment in that the first African American president was elected. We chose to make portraits of President Obama. The following items were collected: pretzels, ginger snaps, licorice, Chiclets, pom poms, and stickers of basketballs, pineapples, and stars. Each student created her own unique portrait of our 44th President. These were hung in the hall to share with our school mates. I sent a picture of the Obama gallery and a class letter to the President wishing him well. In response we received a copy of the official presidential photo which I framed and hung in the classroom to the delight of the students!
Click the Presidents' Day FREEBIE cover to download from my TpT store. Included in this product are:
• Teaching Tips
• Presidential Fact Sheet printable
• President Book List for children
• President Biography Websites for students
• Vocabulary and Idiom List
• Photo Sample of previous student collages
• “What Presidents Are Made Of” Book Cover Photo
• Hail to the Chief Sign to display with students’ art work
Click the below illustration for another Presidents' Day related product you might find useful.
HAPPY PRESIDENTS' DAY!
from the Pirate Queen