Teaching the Presidents of the United States in a home school setting can be much more challenging than in a traditional classroom. Public school teachers have the definite advantage of utilizing competition and peer pressure in motivating memorization. A home school teacher usually doesn’t have those advantages, so instructive creativity and motivational creativity is demanded.
Five creative ways to teach (and memorize) the Presidents of the United States include:
1. Presidential Placemats
Each day or every other day, introduce a new president. Follow the numerical order from George Washington to the present day. Have the homeschooler draw at least one placemat for each President that includes their order, name, dates of service and a significant fact unique to that President. Talk about the President in other home school lessons including citizenship and math.
For instance, if Grover Cleveland was born in 1837 and became President in 1885, how old was he when he assumed office? The placemat can be laminated, placed in a plastic sheet liner or sealed with clear contact adhesive. Use the placemat in as many opportunities as possible and continue to use them, referring to them, discussing them and building upon each previous president. Opportunities for use include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Utilize family meal times to discuss the president.
2. Presidential Hopscotch
Sidewalk chalk and a few notes are all it takes to create a Presidential Hopscotch game. This form of memorization engages visual, auditory and experiential learning methods. Make up a rhythm of hopscotch that suits the homeschooler.
Help them as they remember three to five presidents at a time. Use the correct order from the first president and build upon that. As the homeschooler hops through the hopscotch squares they recite the presidents in order. If they make a mistake, then it is not a drama but a laughing matter to start all over again until they have hop scotched their way through the lesson of the day.
3. Presidential Book
Use construction paper and markers. Talk about a president a day and allow the homeschooler to create and author their own Book of Presidents. For added encouragement, photocopy or scan it to the computer and send it to grandparents or family friends. Ask them to call the homeschooler to compliment them on the book and talk about it.
4. Presidential Path
Use construction paper, markers and tape to create a wall or floor path of presidents. This is a challenging task because it takes up a good deal of room but it is a wonderful long-term learning technique that can be referenced and added to over time. The visual chronological pattern allows all ages to benefit and can be used over several years. The physical touch of walking through the path enhances memorization and understanding.
5. Presidential Notes
Use note cards. Write the Presidents’ name on one side and glue a picture of him on the other side along with the number of his presidency. For example, write the name Benjamin Harrison on one side of the note card. Print out a picture of President Harrison. Have the homeschooler glue it to the back of the note card and write the number “23” next to the picture. Use the note cards as flashcards for review.
Build upon the number of presidents gradually and refer back to them often.