Living in close proximity to Washington, D.C. allows for plenty of teachable presidential moments like when the green and white helicopters are spotted overhead, motorcade whizzes by while we are traveling on the Beltway, or a chance encounter with the President on a gorgeous summer evening. But President’s Day is more than just about our current president since it provides an opportunity to teach children about former presidents and about our government.
Here are some fabulous resources that teach about all things presidential in a fun way that appeal to even the youngest learners.
PBS Kids’ Martha Speaks Goes to Washington teaches important vocabulary to young viewers interested in public policy, advocacy, and our government.
What is a president? What is a nation? What does it mean to be appointed to a cabinet? These questions will be explored on a special Martha Speaks Presidents’ Day episode airing on your local PBS Kids station on Monday, February 15 (check local listings).
We received a press screener to take an early look at the special two part episode about the newly inaugurated President’s search of a dog to live in the White House. Since Martha is always in the know, she recommends some of her neighborhood pals by making some calls to the White House. When the President hears that Martha is a talking dog, she is called on to join him at the White House! I won’t completely spoil the show by telling you why Martha is beckoned to the White House but let’s just say that the show’s themes involve pet adoption and animal advocacy and teaches vocabulary words like neighborhood, volunteer, nation, debating, appoint, and cabinet.
Presidential hopefuls can learn important trivia that might help them get elected in So You Want to be President? DVD by Scholastic Storybook Treasures ($14.95)
So You Want to be President? is a lighthearted roundup of anecdotes and trivia cast as a guide to aspiring presidential candidates. The first of the four animated stories on the DVD teaches young viewers that it might boost your odds of being elected if your name is James (the moniker of six former presidents) or if your place of birth was a humble dwelling (“You probably weren’t born in a log cabin. That’s too bad. People are crazy about log-cabin Presidents. They elected eight”).
Additional stories include the adaptation of My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington D.C., a tail-waggingly funny story written by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy; Madam President, based on the witty book about a girl who dreams of occupying the Oval Office, written and illustrated by Lane Smith; and I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote, based on the book by Linda Arms White. The last story tells how one girl’s gumption propels her through a life filled with challenges until, in 1869, she wins the vote for women in Wyoming Territory. **Win your own copy of So You Want to be President by leaving a comment below about who your favorite president is and why below!
Take a virtual field trip to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello without setting foot on the 5000 acres owned by Thomas Jefferson.
Monticello Explorer provides a treasure trove of information through an in-depth multimedia tour of the plantation and home from the comfort of your own home. Monticello Explorer uses 3D models, narrated tours, special animations, and an interactive map.
- Virtual house tour– The virtual model walks you through the main house to the center of the room and allows you to view a photo of that part of the room or the small plus sign to see an animation of a detail such as the assembly of the parquet floor in the main floor parlor. The floor plan in the upper right corner of the screen helps navigate the rooms of the house and see a photo of the furnished room as it would be seen on the actual tour. For each room, there is a written description that accompanies it. Descriptions are brief, but informative, and are written for your average 4th or 5th grader. Dimensions of the room, color, and architecture are included underneath the description.
- Virtual plantation tour of the 5000 acres that Thomas Jefferson owned. The plantation tour opens with a topographical map. Mousing over the sections on the map gives you the names of the various areas on the plantation. Like the house tour, you can click on any of the yellow plus signs in the squares that will allow you to get a closer look with a written description and sometimes an accompanying picture. There is also a time line beneath the text box.
- Specific tours available such as the general house tour, domestic life at Monticello, and gardens and grounds through Monticello Explorer. Each is video that is narrated by curators, historians, and directors of Monticello and provides an in-depth look at the various parts of Thomas Jefferson’s home.
- The Monticello Classroom has learning resources, an image gallery, and activities for kids. The teacher portion of The Monticello Classroom also has a collection of lesson plans created by teachers for teachers. Have a lesson plan that you have created about Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, or the Declaration of Independence? Register for free and gain access to the Lesson Plan Builder to create, save, and send your lesson plan to the educational staff at Monticello.
Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of So You Want to be President? DVD by Scholastic Storybook Treasures. Just leave a comment below about who your favorite president is and why. Don’t forget your e-mail address or Twitter handle so I can contact you when you win! Winner will be selected using Random.org from all eligible comments in a week.
Images are courtesy of PBS Kids, Scholastic Storybook Treasures and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Screening copies of Martha Speaks and So You Want to Be President? were sent by PBS Kids and Scholastic Storybook Treasures for review. We received free admission to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello but paid for lodging and travel expenses out of pocket. No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are my own.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama