A Presidential Birthday Party

When I taught history we would do this activity the Friday before President’s Day. I’m a firm believer in mixing in educational parties. You have parties in the work world, why not in the school world? That being said, the “parties” I had in my classroom were always very structured, they were earned by the students, and they were educational.

The week before president’s day I would give out the assignment. Students were to research the president that they drew out of a cup. They had to prepare a short report and then from that report select what they felt were that president’s three most important accomplishments. They were to then turn those three things into toast that they would give during the birthday party. It is very important to give them examples and model this for them as some students may very well have no idea what you are talking about. They also had to study the first 18 presidents (this was U.S. History to 1877) and memorize them in order.

We started class with a quiz over the presidents. Then once the quizzes were turned in, the celebration began. We would of course have birthday cake at the party, sing happy birthday, and then the students would begin giving their toasts. This actually takes up most of the time and I would have the students write down one thing they learned about each president as they toasted, ate cake, and celebrated. We simply went around the table. The students whose turn it was would stand up, raise his/her glass, and say something like, “Here’s to George Washington, leader of the Continental Army, father of our country, and definer of the office of president.” The rest of the students would then say, “Here’s to President Washington!” tap each other’s glasses, and drink (or pretend to drink).

Fun fact: The word toast comes from when they would literally put a piece of burnt bread or crouton in their wine glass in order to help with the acidity/flavor. They would then raise their glasses and “clink” them to someone’s health, honor, happiness, etc. Toasting goes way back to the ancient world.

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