6 Ways to Celebrate Presidents Day / Teach your littles a little American history

Carrie Steingruber
February 16, 2018
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Do your kids even know why they get a random Monday off school every February? Celebrate Presidents Day and teach your future voters a little bit of American history (but not too much – it is a school holiday after all) with these six ideas: two books by The New Yorker illustrators, one super-patriotic block set, one outdoor extravaganza, engineer and spaced-themed activities, and one museum your clan needs to visit.
George Washington’s Birthday: A Mostly True Tale by Margaret McNamara
The New Yorker artist Barry Blitt illustrates this party mythical, part factual tale about our first president’s seventh birthday (which Presidents Day technically commemorates – though not the seventh in particular). The humorous narrative is interrupted by helpful fact bubbles about Washington’s life in colonial America – did he actually wear a wig? – and ends with a true re-telling of the story from Washington’s perspective, sans cherry tree. Barnes & Noble, $15.38; bn.com
Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman
Delve into Lincoln’s legacy with a young girl who finds herself suddenly intrigued by our sixteenth president. As she researches, she records the facts she finds and her personal musings – did Lincoln and his wife have nicknames for each other? – alongside colorful, primitive illustrations in gauche. A poignant portrait by The New Yorker veteran Maira Kalman. Barnes & Noble, $12.95; bn.com
Presidents Day Celebration – Dallas Arboretum
Bring your picnic blankets, an empty stomach and your family and friends to the Dallas Arboretum this weekend. The garden will host live music through Monday, Feb. 19. Bruce Wilder will perform Saturday and Sunday from 12 - 4 p.m. Enjoy all-American eats like $2 hotdogs, $2 cherry pies and more while you listen to the soothing sounds. Local band Rushmore is scheduled to perform Monday from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. And, enjoy $5 admission through February 23.
Dallas, 214/515-6615; dallasarboretum.org
Presidential Blocks – Uncle Goose
These patriotic blocks feature portraits and facts about each of our 44 presidents, and all 45 blocks (there’s an Oath of Office block to round out the set) come together to make an American flag when arranged properly. Plus, they’re crafted from eco-friendly basswood right here in the USA. We can’t think of a better way to learn about the presidents – or to beef up our dinner table trivia knowledge. Uncle Goose, $100; unclegoose.com

Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Take your kids to the Perot Museum this weekend to enjoy fun-filled engineering and spaced-themed activities, crafts and more! Engineers Week will kick off on Presidents Day, allowing children the opportunity to explore this field through interactive demonstrations and experiments by professional educators and experts. Enjoy extended hours this weekend as well, as the museum will stay open to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and open Presidents Day from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Dallas, 214/428-5555; perotmuseum.org

George W. Bush Presidential Center
Have you and your family taken pics in the Oval Office? Stop by the George W. Bush Presidential Museum (because it’s open on Presidents day, naturally) to explore the interactive exhibits and to take photos in the recreated Oval Office – the kids can even sit in the President’s chair like the future leaders they’ll surely be. $16 adults, $10 ages 5–12, 4 and younger free.
Dallas, 214/346-1650; bushcenter.org
Published February 2014 / Updated February 2018

Check out the Latest Presidential Portraits

Former President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama unvelied their official Smithsonian portraits to the public on February 12. The portraits took the public by storm, as they stray away from the presidential portrait norm, with Barack Obama sitting arms crossed, on a tall wooden chair at the center of a flower garden. Former first lady Michelle Obama opted for a solid background, colored sky blue, wearing an elegant white dress patterned with vibrant shapes and colors. Barack and Michelle Obama chose portraitist Kehinde Wiley and painter Amy Sherald, respectively, as the masterminds behind their portraits. View the portraits with your children this President's Day weekend and read more about the unveiling at npg.si.edu


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