Happy President’s Day Weekend, everyone! We took the weekend as a time to work on taxes (fitting, it seems) and to give our daughter a bit of instruction in history.

We studied a little bit about three of our American presidents: President Obama, President Lincoln, and President Washington. I kept the introduction basic, and we stayed away from myth (like the cherry tree episode). We talked about the White House and about elections. She seemed the most interested in Abraham Lincoln, and since he is one of my favorite presidents, I especially had fun teaching about him, showing her pictures, and so on. At one point she called him “President Lincolnham” which I thought was cute.

We made a stovepipe hat to represent Lincoln, and we connected him to the copper penny. She used her magnifying glass to investigate the Lincoln monument on the back of older pennies. We did penny rubs with paper and pencil, and we also used them to working on a subtraction lesson. I have a tome on Abraham Lincoln, and I showed her pictures of him, his wife, his sons, his generals and cabinet members, and John Wilkes Booth. We talked more about the Civil War, and she saw pictures of Lincoln meeting one of his generals at an encampment. We ended by coloring an coloring page of Lincoln I’d found online that was drawn based on his likeness in the Lincoln Monument. We talked about the symbolism of how his hands are posed at that monument (one open to represent kindness and mercy; one closed to represent justice, strength, and war).

President Washington turned out to be fun, too. I wasn’t sure what to do with him, at first. We know the cherry tree parable is made-up and that he, almost more than any other founding father, has had his history distilled to become an almost larger-than-life hero. I think it is important that, as much as we can, we teach accurate and unbiased history. No human leader is without flaw. President Washington did own slaves, for example, and there are questionable aspects about him, as well. Still, he is an intelligent and important historical figure, a big part of leading the colonies to independence.

Bill found a National Geographic documentary on Washington on YouTube, which we viewed through our tv. It was about 45 minutes long, and we broke it up with a long walk around the neighborhood, telling stories about the Revolutionary War. The most interesting part of the documentary from a teaching perspective was Washington’s use of codes and invisible ink during his wartime communications. We decided to make our own invisible ink as a tribute to our first president. After working with the ink, Katie colored another coloring page of President Washington.

With President Obama, we talked a bit about the election, his family, and the modern White House. We colored a picture of him, too.

Pictures of today:

We began the morning by putting the finishing touches on our tax organizer. Katie got into the role, too. I gave her an old bill with some numbers on it and a pen, “to do her taxes.”



Katie with her lunch and stovepipe hat (a toilet paper roll and black construction paper, super simple).

Writing with our invisible ink (lemon juice, in our case). We got to add some science in, too, as we talked about why the acid works this way.

After writing our messages/drawing our map, we let the paper dry (I found some old-timey cream linen paper left from something else, so it looked more 1770’s), and then we revealed the message with candlelight.

Katie’s secret map!