Are you looking for a meaningful activity to do with your students surrounding president’s day? I love having my students research different presidents and turn their research into informative reports. This can be scaffolded to be done as low as kinder or first grade (using sentence stems and modeling) or can be successfully researched and accomplished by fifth grade students.
One thing I love about this project is giving students a CHOICE. There are so many different books on every single president at the library or available for free on Epic! Allow students to select which president they most want to research, or give them a pool of options. One thing I used to do was to do a quick preview of all of the books I had available – I would quickly describe highlights from each president, then would lay the books out on my table. After I went through every president, I would call students one by one to pick their book for research.
Alternatively, to save on time, you could pick one president for the entire class to research. This would optimize time. The current president, Abraham Lincoln or George Washington are always safe picks.
I like to give students one to two entire days to complete their research on a president. We take notes on their early life, their biggest accomplishments, and other interesting facts.
Typically, I allow students to use a real book to research, then switch to KID FRIENDLY internet searches such as Epic or other online libraries or vetted research sites to find more information. Students take bullet notes on what they find interesting, then will use those notes later to create their report.
Primary/Emergent: For my emergent writing group, or if I was teaching a class of firsties or kinders, I would have the entire class research the same president. We would read a book aloud, take notes as a class, then depending on their skill level, copy the notes or copy the parts they found most interesting. For kinders, I would have them simply draw a picture.
On Level/Advanced: For the rest of my writers, I would allow them to work independently or in groups to take notes. I would walk the room and aid anyone who needs help, while having a small group of struggling writers at my back table, most likely all researching the same president.
Publish, Present & Grade
After their notes are done, I would give students a day to turn their notes into drafts. Modeling is key here! This allows students to know exactly what expectations are and what you are looking for.
On the last day, I would give students time to publish their writing. Then, you could either do an author’s chair or a think, pair, share to allow students to read their writing to others. Finally, I allow students to use the rubric to self grade, then I use another color to officially mark my grade.
Some of my favorite series for presidential research are the I Am Series (for primary readers) and the Who Was Series (for more advanced readers). Check out these titles below, Amazon affiliate links included.
I Am (for primary students)
Who Was (for more advanced readers, 2nd grade+)
I highly encourage you to check out your local library or school library, to save on costs.
This can be done in as little as one day or stretched out to 5-7 days. I would break it down by doing:
- Day 1 – Introduce topics, allow students to begin research
- Day 2 – Complete research (take notes)
- Day 3 (or days 3&4) – Draft
- Day 4 – Revise/Edit
- Day 5 – Publish (and share)
- Optional Day 6/7 – Author’s Chair, Grade, Hang in Hallway
Drop any questions, comments or helpful resources you have in the comments below.