George Washington and Abraham Lincoln lived more than 200 and 100 years ago, respectively. That’s ancient history to youngsters who can’t even imagine a world without iPads, but this Presidents Day (Feb. 17) you can bring them to life in a vibrant way with these 10 crafts for kids.
Make Birthday Party Decorations
Both Lincoln and Washington celebrated their birthdays in February, and so Presidents Day is held in honor of George Washington on the third Monday every February. Kids love birthday parties, so what better way to bring the presidents to life and have some fun than to host a birthday party for them? Your youngsters can get involved by making simple party favors, blowing up balloons, and decorating the house for the big event.
Bake a Presidential Birthday Cake
The kids will love it if you let them help bake the cake for the presidential birthday party. Better yet, put them in charge of decorating it. If you have several kids, it might be easier to make cupcakes and give them each their own batch on which to work their creativity or make cookies that they can decorate with frosting, sprinkles, and candy.
Illustrations to Bring a Story to Life
This is a very simple way to bring the dead presidents to life, so you can use it with very young children. Use paint rather than crayons or colored pencils to really get them involved. Youngsters love to paint, and it’s even more fun when you let them get a little messy with the water colors. Read or tell them a simple story about Washington and Lincoln and have them illustrate it.
Older kids can use other materials, such as cotton balls (they work great for George Washington’s hair), beads, pipe cleaners and buttons to add some bling to their pictures.
Craft Patriotic Potato Stamps
Another way to have fun with paint is to let your kids make patriotic potato stamps. Have the kids design and draw a simple presidential seal for Washington and Lincoln. Use that as a template and help them carve the stamp into a raw potato half. Depending on their ages, you may need to do all the carving while they handle the drawing and supervision. Then they can enjoy the messy fun of dipping the stamps in paint and stamping seals on “presidential documents.”
Don Presidential Wigs and Hats
When you think of Abraham Lincoln, you almost always picture him wearing his signature stovepipe hat. Meanwhile, George Washington had a head of trademark white hair. Let the kids make their own headwear inspired by the presidents. A hat can be made from construction paper, felt, or cardboard. A wig can be made with a cheap white winter cap as a base. Let the kids attach white yarn or cotton.
Stage a Performance with Homemade ‘Puppets’
Kids love to act things out, so they’ll really get involved in presidential history if you help them make their own props and put on a play. Let them make puppets out of cutouts on sticks, socks, or whatever else their imaginations can come up with. Create a makeshift stage out of a table draped with a sheet and let them do the voices, play the rolls, and give their own “Broadway” version of a famous story like George Washington cutting down the cherry tree.
Make a Collage
Let the kids use old magazines or have them make their own figures for a collage by cutting them out of paper, cardboard, fabric, or whatever else you can think of. Give them a piece of poster board and let them fill the blank space in any way they wish, as long as it ties into the presidential theme. Then have them explain why they chose or created each picture or piece. Do this project the week before Presidents Day and hang it up in your home as a holiday decoration.
Create a Book
Give your children a topic, like the bravest thing that Washington or Lincoln did, and have them make their own book about it. The book should include both text and illustrations. This craft can be very easily altered to fit any age group. Younger children can dictate the story to you in their own words and create simple crayon drawings. It’s okay if they’re not quite recognizable, as long as the spirit is there. Older kids can get a lot more creative with both the story and illustrations.
Decorate a Tree
Most kids know the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. They can easily make their own version of the famous tree by using branches they gather from outside and cherries made from tissue or cut out of paper. Have them add other items that tie in to Washington and Lincoln, and urge them to be creative. For example, they can make a “log” cabin ornament out of Lego pieces. Do this a week or so before the holiday, and leave the tree up as a decoration.
Make Presidential Toys
It’s simple to make stuffed dolls that represent the two famous presidents using felt or another material that you can pick out with the kids at the fabric store. Help them do the sewing, but have them stuff the dolls and then create the features.
Want something a little different? Have the kids make their own Washington and Lincoln “action figures” by twisting pipe cleaners together. You’d be amazed at what a few of the fuzzy sticks can be transformed into when they’re turned over to kids with big imaginations.