Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Presidential Paint Stick Timelines


When I saw For the Love of Math's use of velcro-covered paint stir sticks to order fractions, I was excited. To encourage my son's love for presidential history, and learn a little about two of our country's most beloved leaders, I ran to the nearest Wal-Mart to buy two 5-gallon paint sticks (WHOA, they're big!) and some velcro.

While I printed, cut out, and laminated (with packing tape for durability) pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and 14 milestones from their lives, my son read some great graphic novels about their lives.


I was so glad to find these at our library. The comic book presentation of the milestones in each of these gentlemen's lives made their history seem more contemporary (translation: less yawn, more cool). My son went into a reading comma with these two bio-graphics books! Mission accomplished.

When he was done, I handed him the two paint sticks covered in a strip of velcro (I put the soft side on the stick). At the top was velcroed the heads of Washington and Lincoln. (Download and print the timeline milestones I made here.)


Our milestone markers were all ready to be put in the proper order. No instruction was required. "AHHHH, timelines?!?! I hate timelines," he says. (sigh)

So I explained: "Decide which events belong to which president. Put them in order. Show me, and I'll tell you how many are wrong. But I won't tell you which ones were wrong."

[ZING] (That's the sound of the lightbulb going on.) Suddenly, these boring timelines were a game. He was in.


My son used what he'd learned to deduce which events belonged on the appropriate timeline. Then, I piped up with some questions to ignite the critical thinking more, asking questions like, "Lincoln was our 16th president. Do you think the country's states would have all been established by then?"

Even I have to admit this little activity was more fun than I'd imagined. I can't wait to use our velcro-covered paint sticks for other activities!

16 comments:

  1. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you for putting this together! I wanted to do a mini lesson on these presidents in honor of their birthdays this month, and this just hits the spot...

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  2. Replies
    1. They're pictured above: George Washington by Rod Espinosa and Abraham Lincoln by Joe Dunn. I highly recommend them!

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  3. An amazing graphic about the personalities. i think kids will definitely love to know about them by using this stick.

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  4. Is there any way to access these without a google account? I really don't want another account to keep up with. Thanks.

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  5. Yay! I'm so glad you were able to use that idea! There are sooooo many ways you could use those in soooo many different areas. Thanks for the link back!

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    1. Thank YOU, Andrea, for sharing your amazing ideas and the inspiration for this project!!!

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  6. I think there is a typo... GW's facts say that in 1979 he refused a 3rd term as President. Not a history buff, but I think he was long dead by then! :)

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    1. YIKES! Thank you for pointing this out, Kate. I'm fixing it right now!!!

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  7. I tried to open it but there is nothing there. Did something happen to the link??

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    1. Joy, I just changed the link because there was a typo. Please refresh the page and then click on the link again. If you continue to have trouble, email me and I'll attach a PDF.

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  8. What an awesome activity ... I LOVE the printables! Thanks so much for generously sharing them! I featured your printables in my post at PreK + K Sharing on Montessori-Inspired Presidents' Day Activities: http://prekandksharing.blogspot.com/2013/02/montessori-inspired-presidents-day-activities.html

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  9. Thank you so much! Our Walmart only had one paint stick left, so I went to Home Depot and they were FREE there! Yay! You have the neatest printables and the best part is they're free. Thanks again!

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  10. Thanks so much! Great idea. My girls will have fun with these today!

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  11. great idea...thanks. Can see using this for every history lesson for timelines. So much fun for the kids to learn and "play" with the timelines while learning.

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  12. Thanks for all you share. It's all wonderful!

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