Once upon a time, schoolchildren celebrated holidays on the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and George Washington (February 22.) Now, the two holidays are combined into one: Presidents’ Day.*
Presidents’ Day is a time for many traditional elementary school activities: learning about the presidents and completing worksheets, hearing stories about Washington and the cherry tree, and creating a silhouette of students using the overhead projector for tracing. Fun activities, all. Here is a not-so-traditional idea for a grammar lesson:
Presidents’ Day is not the official name for the holiday, and there is some disagreement on the spelling. “Presidents’ Day” is favored by the Chicago Manual of Style, the American Heritage Dictionary, and Webster’s Dictionary. “President’s Day” is incorrect because two presidents “own” the holiday, not one. Use the day to try once again to teach students about where to place the apostrophe: before the s if ownership is singular, after the s if there are multiple owners. eHow.com has a nice lesson plan for teaching apostrophe use and links to several practice worksheets.
*The third Monday in February is the federal holiday that honors George Washington. Today, the date usually is observed as “Presidents Day” in recognition of other American presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln (who was born February 12). The legal name of the federal holiday, however, remains “Washington’s Birthday”. The federal holiday used to be observed on February 22nd until the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed by Congress.