Editor's note: The following is a column written for Patch by Long Valley Middle School teacher Matt Marciano. He is a sixth grade social studies teacher that has implemented – and been recognized for – his "Change the World" annual project, which has been reported on by Long Valley Patch in the past.
Last month in a guest column for Patch, I focused on the importance of giving back on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This month, I will focus on another holiday that does not necessarily get the attention it deserves – Presidents' Day. As a Social Studies teacher, I always enjoy sharing information with the students about unique facts about the Presidents of our country. I will also share with you some of the interesting questions I ask the students as we study the various Presidents a little later on in this column.
I was reading online a few months ago, a rather disturbing poll conducted by Yahoo. In this poll about 25% of those surveyed did not know we gained our independence from Great Britain; 7% could only name the first four Presidents in order (Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison); and only 27% of those polled knew that we fought the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
While not everyone will know every single fact associated with the Presidents of our country, I definitely find it important to share with the students, during the month of February, leading up to the holiday, some of the important (and of course, funny) stories associated with some of our Presidents.
Here is a quiz on the Presidents to test your knowledge about the leaders who have served our country:
- Which President got stuck in the bathtub (always a favorite among my sixth grade students)? Answer: William Howard Taft.
- Who was the first President to live in the White House? Answer: believe it or not, John Adams, the second President of the United States.
- Who was the youngest President ever in our history? Answer: while John F. Kennedy was the youngest person elected President, the youngest ever President was Theodore Roosevelt, who succeeded William McKinley after he was assassinated.
- Which President kept a jar of jelly beans on his White House desk? Answer: Ronald Reagan.
- Who was the first President born in a hospital? Answer: Jimmy Carter.
The students always enjoy hearing about the President who served the shortest amount of time in office (William Henry Harrison), and the President who kept an alligator on the White House lawn (John Quincy Adams).
Below are some fun links to check out for Presidents' Day:
- http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/history/a-presidents-day-quiz.html - the link, listed above, is a quiz from a few years ago, that tests your knowledge of the Presidents.
- http://presidentialpetmuseum.com/whitehousepets-4/ - this is a fun link that lists the various pets that the Presidents had while in the White House.
- http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/02/20/quiz.presidents.day/index.html - this link contains, from CNN, a quiz from a few years ago, about how much knowledge we have about the origins of the President’s Day holiday.
- http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents - this link is from the official White House webpage with a list of all of the Presidents of the United States in our history. Take a look to see how many of the Presidents you know!
Presidents' Day is definitely a holiday that has become lost as another day to have sales and not for its main purpose – to honor the men who have served our country as Commander in Chief. The information above is not only fun, but gives a chance to recognize the people who have served our country as President and recognize their respective contributions to the office of President.