The best place to start, of course, was at the beginning. That was an easy one - I know :) I wanted to begin (I say begin, because I think this is a topic that might lose it's headline spot, but won't be completely out of the picture for quite some time - I hope!) with the order of presidents, to give them something tangible to show how many we have had, how long they have been president, and how often we get a new one. This past year was an election year, so my older two learned some things about a presidential term and how long it is and how the President gets his position from my husband and I talking at home, but I knew they didn't have any idea just how many presidents we have had in our nation's history.
Using an idea from a coin sorting printable at Teach Beside Me, and a simple sensory bin idea from a friend and teacher at a local Montessori school in town, I came up with this:
A COIN HUNT!
All of the children REALLY loved this one :) One of the best parts is getting to hide the coins again for the next person to find. It definitely got many hands (and feet) in it, and they enjoyed it! Of course, here is where I make a confession - I almost had a cow watching rice fall all over the floor!!! I know, I know - I should be prepared for the mess and not panic over it, but reality says that I did begin to panic. I had to remind them many times of how to find the coins without getting rice everywhere , although I think the warning fell on deaf ears, because I still found myself prompting them to be gentle, and don't forget to sweep up the rice that falls. I am by no means a 'neat freak' or anything, but we do our daily cleaning in the morning for the most part, and any mother knows the inner struggle when she (or one of the kids) just got done sweeping, only to see something hit the floor and scatter in a million places! After a few times, I hope I got better at dealing with it and now I will get off that soap box!
This was one of the easiest to put together, since all I had to do was buy the plastic box and rice. I chose a container with a lid, so that when they are not using it, it can be closed and the graph can be placed on top of it. I knew the temptation to test out the 'cause and effect' method of what happens when you get a handful of rice and throw it/drop it on the floor would probably be more than Buddy Boy could handle, and although he was allowed to get his hands in there, I just didn't want to have it wide open, calling to him! It was perfectly easy for the oldest two, the best challenge for Miss Priss, seeing as she can find a coin if asked for it by name, but this time she had to stop and think about what it was first, and match the images on the coin to the ones on the graph. And it was really over Bug's head on matching the correct coins, with the exception of the penny, due to it's color, and the dime, due to it's size. She often got the nickel and quarter mixed up because of the similarities, but that's okay - she is only 3 :)
The other new work for presidents that I added was a Presidential Timeline, an idea that came together after seeing this and this, both shared by Deb at Living Montessori Now as part of a Presidents' Day post. I printed off the pictures of all 44 presidents from the Teachers Pay Teachers website and laminated them, and then cut each one out, individually. Using white ribbon and small velcro squares, attached to the ribbon and the backs of the pictures, the goal was for them to simply order the presidents sequentially. This was perfect for the older three, although my 3 year old did attack it once. However, it took lots of help from me to make sure she got each one right, and I used several different tactics to keep her interested to the very end (my turn, your turn to place the president, what face is he making? etc.)
This is a video of Little Mama when she finished the timeline, telling me all of them in order.
I knew our children would enjoy these, but as it turns out, they even appealed to some traditionally-schooled, public school kiddos, as well!
Here we are, working through the timeline
After they finished, I had everyone line up to see how long it would stretch - turns out, the youngest two got to hold 'the future presidents' (blank ribbon for years to come)!
Due to a snow day, several cousins spent half a day with us. But they didn't completely miss school! Due to the amount of children in the house, I knew I had to find something to involve them all - so we used our timeline work and a National Geographic book on presidents to build it together, and as we added a new president, by a different person each time, we found a few interesting facts about that particular president, or sometimes just something funny that we didn't know. I was so excited when THAT inspired THIS:
She wanted to make a timeline of her own, including the President, his wife, and an interesting fact for each one. I wish I had her longer so she could feel the satisfaction in finishing this one!
That was not everything we did this week, by far, but this post has been long enough already! I hope you enjoyed a peek into Presidents with us - I would love to hear what your ideas are for teaching Presidential history!