Last Sunday, I created a lesson for an evening activity for kids at our church. The task unleashed my latent school teacher. By the time the kids arrived, I was armed and dangerous. I had a plethora of Presidents’ Day trivia about Washington and Lincoln as well as coloring sheets, and word searches. Little did I know how much the children would add to that great body of knowledge.
The first group of kids were first through third graders who knew Monday was Presidents’ Day. They thought the holiday had something to do with birthdays, but needed some pretty broad hints before they landed on George and Abe.
“But they’re both dead,” one child announced. “When is our real president’s birthday?”
“Oh yeah,” a girl chimed in. “He has a funny name. It’s hard to remember.” The entire group agreed with her. They hemmed and hawed, trying to remember the real president’s name.
“His name reminds me of that one vegetable.” She thought for a moment, and her face lit up. “Broccoli!” she exclaimed. “His name sounds like broccoli.”
“Oh yeah!” everyone chorused. “Broccoli Obama!”
The next group of kids were four and five-year-olds. Amazingly, they named
Broccoli Barack Obama without batting an eye.
When asked what the president does, one little boy answered confidently. “He rides around in a car and kills bad guys.”
“No,” another boy disagreed. “President Obama is a good leader.”
Unfortunately, good leadership didn’t have the same allure as a sound bite about riding around in a car killing bad guys. Most of the kids bought into the car theory and stuck with it, even while they colored pictures of Abe Lincoln’s log cabin and the young George Washington working as a surveyor.
“See this?” A sandy-haired boy pointed to some orange lines he’d drawn on the log cabin’s doorway. “That’s a booby trap so bad guys can’t get in.”
“See this?” A little blond guy pointed to George’s surveying equipment. “That bottom part turns into the gun for killing bad guys.”
The final group were fourth and fifth graders. They breezed through the President’s Day trivia, and were surprised to hear that George and Martha never lived there. They even knew the first White House burned down and had to be rebuilt.
“Yeah,” a serious boy said. “That kind of thing still happens. My mom told me that some tourists ran a train into the Octagon, too.”
I thought for a moment. “Do you mean Pentagon?”
“Yeah! That’s it. The Pentagon!”
The boy beside him added to the confusion. “And some other tourists ran a plane into a tall building in New York City.”
“The Twin Towers,” I explained. “They were terrorists, not tourists. That happened in 2001.”
“2001?” The Octagon tourist reporter did some figuring in his head. “That was two years before I was born.”
The boy beside him pointed at the coloring pictures. “Can we do those?” They colored industriously, sure as only children can be, that their parents and their country’s president, Broccoli Obama, will kill the bad guys and keep them safe from tourists attacking the Octagon.
Photo Source: markuso at www.freedigitalphotos.net