The United States President has many roles and responsibilities, including approving and vetoing legislation, appointing judges of the Supreme Court and other officers of the U.S., making treaties with foreign nations, and exercising control over the nation’s military forces. Our nation’s government is built on a system of checks and balances, and the president is a major part of that! Though students don’t have a direct say in the president’s actions, it is important for them to learn about the presidency and how the government functions as a whole because one day, their vote is going to impact who becomes president and therefore who holds these powers.
There are many resources available online for teaching students about the presidency. Because politics can be a sensitive subject, it is important to keep the focus on the facts about the presidency rather than personal opinions about the current president or past presidents. By utilizing the resources below, students learn the most important aspects of the presidency!
- The U.S. Presidency: PBS has put together a collection of resources related to the U.S. Presidency, which are separated into several different categories: 60-Second Presidents, 60-Second Presidents Activities, Presidential Portraits, Presidential Biographies, Powers of the Presidency, Campaigns & Elections, Presidents in Office, Speeches & Addresses, and First Ladies. These resources will provide students with valuable information regarding the history of the U.S. Presidency!
- U.S. Presidents: Scholastic provides lesson plans, articles, and activities to help students learn about the history of the presidency, the duties of the president, and notable presidents. Additionally, for educators teaching students in grades 3-5, Scholastic’s “If You Were President” interactive activity may be a creative way for students to learn about the important decisions that presidents make!
- The American Presidency: The National Museum of American History offers a variety of lesson plans for students in grades 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. In each of the lessons, students will study the topics of campaigning, inauguration, the roles of the president, life in the White House, and assasination and mourning. Also, there is a separate page on the site dedicated to providing educators with suggestions on how to use each of the lessons with their students, depending on their grade level!
- Power and the Presidency, From Kennedy to Obama: The Smithsonian Magazine has published an article detailing how presidents have slowly expanded their power, particularly in foreign policy, over the past fifty years. The author writes about the decisions of Kennedy, Truman, Eisenhower, and more presidents, which will help students better understand not only how difficult it is to be president but more importantly the powers of the presidency!
- U.S. Presidents: The Miller Center provides an abundance of information on each president regarding their life before presidency, campaigns and elections, foreign affairs, domestic affairs, life after presidency, family life, and impact and legacy. It may be useful for students to learn about several individual presidents while learning about the institution of the American presidency itself!
- Presidency of the United States of America: Britannica offers much information on the presidency, including the duties of the office, historical development (post revolutionary period, the presidency in the 19th century, changes in the 20th century), selecting a president (the evolution of the nomination process, the modern nomination process, the general election campaign), the presidents of the United States, and United States presidential election results.
- The Evolution of the Presidency: UShistory.org has put together information on the evolution of the presidency, specifically constitutional qualifications and powers along with the strengthening of the presidency. Students will get the chance to look over Article II of the Constitution in order to learn straight from the source about the function of the executive branch.
- The President’s Many Roles: lumen provides information on the president’s many roles, which include chief executive, commander-in-chief, head of state, chief diplomat, chief legislator, and political party leader. For each one of these roles, students will be supplied with learning objectives, key takeaways, and an introduction to the role in question. This resource will come in handy for educators who want their students to learn more about what the president’s job is.
Teaching students about the presidency is important, especially as election season approaches, and as long as you provide students with facts about the presidency rather than opinions about the president, the experience should go smoothly! The resources above will help students learn more about the presidency as a whole and form their own political opinions!
- Lesson Plan – What is a President?: education world created a lesson plan for students in grades K-3 to help them learn about the concept of the presidency. First, the lesson calls for educators to ask students a few questions to measure their basic knowledge of the presidency. Then, educators will provide students with some fast presidential facts and expand their knowledge with one of the recommended books.
- How to Become President of the U.S. Poster Lesson Plan: USAGov has put together a lesson plan on the process of becoming president. From this lesson, students will learn about the constitutional qualifications for president, primaries and caucuses, national conventions and campaigning, general election, and electoral college. Also included in the lesson is a poster which explains the presidential election process in the U.S.!
- Roles and Powers of the President – Lesson Overview: Khan Academy provides a lesson overview on the roles and powers of the president. Included in this overview are lists of key terms, the formal powers of the president, the informal powers of the president, key takeaways for this lesson, and review questions.