Living in the DC Metro Area, it is difficult to escape Inauguration Fever. Trips into The District over the holidays revealed bleachers that are set up for the inaugural parade and continued progress on the platform for the inaugural ceremony where Barack Obama will be sworn in on January 20.
While the swearing in of Barack Obama is indeed historic, any inauguration is a fabulous opportunity to take a real life event and turn it into a teachable moment. With the inauguration quickly approaching, I thought I’d compile a list of the best inauguration themed sites as this week’s Websites of the Week.
My selections educate about past inaugurations through factual text, personal accounts, audio, and trivia. There are links to biographies about Barack Obama, information about the first ladies’ inaugural ball gowns, and what the day will be like for the First Family. I have found websites with age appropriate crafts and activities for the preschool and toddler set. And there is no shortage of inauguration themed worksheets. Here are my top picks to get you ready for January 20.
- The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies site is THE official site for all things related to the inauguration. It provides the dos and don’ts for anyone planning to come to witness the inauguration but is also a wonderful resource for kids. This site features slideshows of previous presidents, walking through the President Elect’s inauguration day events (morning worship service, swearing in, parade, etc), and learning inauguration trivia on the Facts and Firsts page. Be sure to check back each week from now until January 20th to watch the construction progress on the platform for the inaugural ceremony. Preschoolers will enjoy viewing the slideshows with parents while older kids can browse this ad-free site themselves.
- PBS News Hour has a wealth of resource including the history of the presidential inauguration and a quiz featuring presidential trivia (with both a novice and expert version), and photo galleries from past inaugurations. This site is best for elementary ages and up.
- If your child is wondering what former presidents said in their inaugural addresses, then you will want to visit the Presidential Speech Archive. The University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs has an extensive collection of some of “the more important presidential speeches of the past 60 years.” The speeches are available in their entirety in full audio and some transcripts are also available, including recently added ones from the late 18th and 19th centuries. This site is best for elementary ages and up.
- If you really want to know what it is like to attend inauguration but don’t have the means to shell out money to come and stay in DC or the will to stand out in the cold, read Noah McCullough’s My First Inauguration: An Experience to Remember. Now a teen, Noah McCullough has been fascinated with presidents ever since he was in kindergarten. He attended President Bush’s inauguration in 2005 and provides a kid’s perspective on what it is like to attend an inauguration. This site is best for elementary ages and up. Or paraphrase the text for younger kids.
The First Family
- Wondering what the day will be like for Barack Obama and his family? The Inaugural Schedule provides a timeline of the day’s activities for the new president. There’s also an article on Scholastic that, despite being written for the 2005 inauguration, provides details about the swearing in ceremony, parade, and the evening’s balls and festivals. This site is best for elementary ages and up.
- If you want to know lots of details about Barack Obama, Kaboose has a biography of Obama that details his early life, college years, bid for the presidency, and contains fun facts is best suited for older elementary ages. While the articles are factual and written for elementary ages and up, the site is littered with ads and popups. While the text is appropriate for grades 3 and up, elementary students would be less distracted if the individual articles about each portion of Obama’s life were printed out rather than having the read them via the website. This site is best for grades 3 and up.
- What will Michelle Obama be wearing as she becomes First Lady and who will she wear to the inaugural balls? Budding fashionistas should read PBS News Hour’s article about inaugural fashion with links to videos featuring the curator of the First Ladies’ exhibit at the National Museum of American History. The National Museum of American History blog also has a post that answers some of the most frequently asked questions about the First Ladies collection including the oldest gown in the collection, if the first ladies are requited to donate inaugural ball gowns, and why all gowns aren’t on exhibit. This site is best for elementary ages and up. Or paraphrase the text for younger kids.
- Take a virtual panoramic tour of The White House and West Wing to see where the Obamas will reside for the next four years. The tours are 360 degree movies that feature The Oval Office, Press Briefing Room, Blue Room, Cabinet Room, and many more! Preschoolers will enjoy viewing the tours with parents while older kids can browse this ad-free site themselves.
- So maybe kids can’t cast a vote to express their choice for president but they sure can send a message to President Obama to share their opinions on important issues. Through PBS KIDS Speak Out kids can type a short message and share their thoughts about the Earth, schools, and being healthy while casting a vote for an idea written by someone else The site encourages civic involvement about issues as they issues as they most relate to kids’ lives. Community discussion and the democratic process are modeled by allowing kids to choose which ideas they like best. Ideas with the most votes are featured on Speak Out in the form of a message to our President. This active, digital message will reflect the youth’s changing concerns and proposed solutions over time. This site is best for elementary ages and up.
- Try Scholastic’s memory-type game where the goal is to match the presidents’ names with their numbers (like George Washington = #1). Then for an added challenge, line up the presidents in the order that they served our country. This game is best for elementary ages and above.
- Enchanted Learning is your source for inauguration themed worksheets. Find Barack Obama alphabet code worksheets and word hunts with spaces for 30 or 50 words that can be found using the letters in our next president’s name. Thanks to Enchanted Learning you won’t be racking your brain to come up with words since they provide an answer sheet! Worksheets are great for fluent elementary readers and beyond. Enchanted Learning is free but if you choose to subscribe for $20 a year, you will have access to their ad-free version with printer friendly pages. I highly recommend purchasing a subscription if you have older children that will be browsing the site on their own or for ad-free worksheets. This site is best for elementary ages and above.
- As I mentioned before, Kaboose has some great content hiding among the banner ads and pop ups that litter the site. Get beyond the flashing ads and pop-ups for fun crafts that would be enjoyed by preschoolers and early elementary ages such as an Obama stencil silhouette and a pattern to create the Obama symbol on a paper plate. The crafts are best for preschoolers and early elementary ages.
- There are tons of pictures on the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s Flickr photostream. Images include the Capitol Building, Lincoln’s Bible which will be used for the swearing in, the President-elect and future First Lady, and Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address. Preschoolers will enjoy viewing pictures with parents while older kids can navigate this site independently.
- PBS News Hour has a photo gallery from past inaugurations featuring pictures of Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, William Taft, John F. Kennedy, and many more! Preschoolers will enjoy viewing pictures with parents while older kids can navigate this site independently.
If all this talk about the upcoming inauguration has led to questions about the democracy and the presidential election, you will want to take a look at my picks for the 2008 Election Sites for Kids. My selections educate about democracy and elections through animated movies or factual text, provide links to age appropriate crafts and activities for the preschool and toddler set, and current election coverage for your budding politician.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama