Presidents Day Activity – Teach Kids About Money by Putting their Profiles on “Coins”
The weeks surrounding President’s Day are a great time to teach kids about money. Bring in lots of coins and teach them that a penny is worth one cent and there are 100 pennies in a dollar. You can teach them the names of the other coins and point out the different sizes and colors, but in a preschool class, the values and the math will probably be beyond them.
Before beginning this Presidents Day activity, teach your students the basics about the presidents: We live in a country called America. Just like in the classroom, where the teacher is in charge and tells the children the rules to keep them safe and the classroom running the way it should, the president is in charge of all the people in America and tells them the rules and makes sure the country runs the way it should. The first president of America was George Washington, and his picture is on a coin called a “quarter.” Pass around some quarters and let the kids get a good look at Washington’s face. You can tell them – or read them – some of the stories associated with Washington. Teach them about Lincoln as well – tell them stories and familiarize them with Lincoln’s face on the penny.
Now show them profiles of the two presidents’ faces. You can print out a simple template of each president’s profile from the Internet, or just show them pictures in books and on coins. Trace the templates onto silhouette paper. Show the children that a profile is a picture of the side of a face. Have kids turn their heads to show you their profiles. Show them that even though these pictures of the presidents are “silhouettes” – they’re dark and we can only see the outlines – there are telltale signs that show us which president we’re looking at. For example, Lincoln’s beard makes him easy to differentiate from Washington, as does his hat (if his silhouette is wearing one).
Here comes the really fun part of the Presidents Day activity. My class absolutely loves this kids craft. If your school has an overhead projector, get a hold of it to make your life easier. If not, the craft can also be done by shining a lamp or a flashlight on the wall in a darkened room.
Hang a sheet of silhouette paper (white side out) on the wall and have a child stand in front of it, facing to the side so that his profile is visible. Using his shadow from the projected light, trace the child’s profile onto the silhouette paper.
Kids love to watch this process unfold, but if you feel that your class will get restless while you’re tracing each child’s profile, you can have the them work on the next part of the kids craft and call them over one at a time to have their profiles sketched. Each child will paint a paper plate with either silver or brown/copper paint, depending on what kind of coin they want their profiles featured on. If you’ve had them do the painting step in advance, now is the time for them to decorate the backs of the “coins” with numbers (“1” for a penny, “5” for a nickel, etc), buildings, eagles, or whatever they like, You can even give them eagle stickers and teach them that the eagle is the bird that represents the United States. Show them the eagle on the back of a quarter.
After you trace each child’s silhouette, he or she can carefully cut it out and glue it onto his or her “coin,” black side of the paper facing out. Make sure to write kids’ names on the backs of their “coins” so you can identify them later! When they’re dry, hang the “coins” up around the room. Your students will love trying to guess which silhouette belongs to whom! For a slightly different twist on this kids craft, let each child draw a self portrait on his profile (using the white side of the silhouette paper instead of the black). This will give kids a completely new perspective and a new way to look at themselves than the traditional head-on self-portrait.
With this fun Presidents Day activity, not only do you get to teach your class all about the presidents, but you also have the opportunity to teach kids about money at the same time!