The history of Presidents’ Day can be traced back to the late 1700s. People began celebrating George Washington’s Birthday (February 22) while he was still president. About a hundred years later, his birthday became a federal holiday. After Abraham Lincoln’s death in 1865, many people also celebrated Lincoln’s birthday (February 12), though it never became a federal holiday.
Both Washington and Lincoln left enduring legacies. Washington helped to hold the country together during the Revolutionary War, and Lincoln held it together during the Civil War. But all of our presidents have worked hard to serve our country.
What’s in a Name?
Since the passage of the Monday Holidays Act, Washington’s Birthday has been celebrated on the third Monday in February. President Nixon called the holiday “Presidents’ Day” to honor all past presidents. Many states and people have followed his example, though “Washington’s Birthday” is still the holiday’s legal name for the federal government.
There’s also a debate about where the apostrophe goes in “Presidents’ Day.” Some say it should be written as “President’s Day” or “Presidents Day.”
But under any name and with or without an apostrophe, it’s a great day to celebrate everything that our past presidents, including Washington and Lincoln, have done for our nation.
Play Plinky’s Presidential Challenge
Can you put the U.S. presidents in order? Play the Mint’s “Presidential Challenge” game and find out! This fun and educational game can be played for individual enrichment or as part of a classroom lesson.
Lesson Plans About the Presidents
A Day as President (Grades K–1)
Students will identify the President as the leader of the United States government. Students will identify the jobs and responsibilities of the President of the United States.
Past and Present (Grades K–1)
Students will be able to identify George Washington and the current president. Students will be able to distinguish between events in the past and the present.
Let the Music Play (Grades K–1)
Students will identify George Washington as the first President of the United States. Students will understand what a symbol is and will recognize symbols of America.
Four Famous Faces (Grades K–1)
Students will recognize certain historical figures in United States history. Students will understand the basic job of the President of the United States.
Presidential Gallery (Grades 4–6)
Students will identify the three branches of the federal government and their roles. Students will identify important events, issues and accomplishments in the term of one president, and an event that showed checks and balances at work.
Presidential Biography (Grades 4–6)
Students will identify George Washington and his contributions to the United States, including being commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, leader of the Constitutional Convention, and the first president of the United States. Students will understand that a biography is a type of literary genre.
History in the Making (Grades 7–8)
Students will make associations between a historical period, the office of the President of the United States, and foreign policy. They will diagram this connection, write an essay, and present a team skit.
They Were Born Where? (Grades 9–10)
Students will identify where the presidents of the United States were born and the role of geography in determining election outcomes by creating graphs and analyzing the results of presidential elections.