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Ask the Presidents

Build literacy skills with this fun role play activity! Students read a play script and answer key questions with followup activities


Grade Level: 3-6

Materials: Printable Student Handout Script

Story Preview: Penny shows her lack of understanding of and knowledge about the presidency when she e-mails to her teacher a joke about the president. Her teacher's reaction spurs Penny to go online to learn more about what a president does. There, she discovers a Web site at which former presidents chat about their accomplishments, and learns what those men consider to be the important qualities of a president.

Roles: Narrator, Penny, Ms. Abbington (teacher), I_Like_Ike (Dwight Eisenhower), Honest_Abe (Abraham Lincoln), Gentleman_Farmer (George Washington), Monty_Cello (Thomas Jefferson), New_Deal (Franklin D. Roosevelt), Pillbox_Hat (Jacqueline Kennedy), PT_Boat_Commander (John F. Kennedy), Great_Communicator (Ronald Reagan)

Additional Resources

Students can learn more about the presidents at the following Web sites.

* Designed especially for children, White House 101 has simple presidential biographies, news, quizzes and games, video clips, photos, and more.

* History of the White House is part of the White House Web site that shares history of the home, a video tour, and much more.

* Using material from Grolier encyclopedias, The American Presidency offers profiles of presidents, vice presidents, first ladies, and candidates, as well as presidential facts and background about the election process.

For additional information about presidents written for students, see Fact Monster's Biographies of the Presidents.

Setting: present day, school and home

Theme: Presidents' Day


  • dud: failure or misfit
  • secede: withdraw from a group
  • Confederacy: union of persons, parties, or states
  • morals: values or beliefs
  • virtues: good or admirable qualities
  • executive branch: the branch of the U.S. government responsible for carrying out the laws; includes the President, Vice President, Cabinet members, and heads of some agencies.
  • legacy: something received from a predecessor
  • promote: contribute to the growth of

Props: none required

Follow-Up Questions:

  • What are the full names of the presidents in the script?
  • What is the full name of each of those president's first ladies?
  • What branch of the U.S. government is the Supreme Court part of?
  • What is the Declaration of Independence?
  • Which presidents gave their lives for their office?
  • Which president do you think had the most difficult term of office? Why?
  • Do you agree that "courage, commitment, and communication" are the most important qualities of a President?
  • Do you think Penny only dreamed about the chat room? Why or why not?

Follow-Up Activity:
Separate students into small groups and ask each group to research a president in this script: I_Like_Ike (Dwight Eisenhower); Honest_Abe (Abraham Lincoln); Gentleman_Farmer (George Washington); Monty_Cello (Thomas Jefferson); New_Deal (Franklin D. Roosevelt); Pillbox_Hat (Jacqueline Kennedy) and PT_Boat_Commander (John F. Kennedy); or Great_Communicator (Ronald Reagan). Have students look for information that explains the alias used by each speaker and comments he or she makes. (For example, why does John F. Kennedy call himself PT_Boat_Commander and the "man who accompanied Pillbox Hat to this chat"?) Next, have students create a profile for the speakers that includes the years that each president served, place of birth, and other key facts. Reconvene to share their findings as a class and put the presidents on a timeline based on the events they discuss and their years in office.

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
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