Today's snack: If you're celebrating Presidents' Day, and zeroing
in on our first and, some would say, greatest President, then of course you
have to have cherries!
you can't find fresh cherries in the grocery store, it's always fun to put
maraschino cherries inside thin pineapple rings.
the old story about how he chopped down one of his father's extra-special
cherry trees, and when confronted, owned up to it, saying, "I cannot tell a
lie"? Well, it's apparently a . . .
lie. Or, at least, apparently a made-up story.
are convinced that the story was invented to illustrate Washington's honesty
and build support for him among the people. Our first President's honesty is a
well-documented fact, and it doesn't matter what his "PR" machine might have
done - he really WAS a great man, and honest.
your mistakes is a good lesson, anyway. And if you remember nothing else about
America's Numero Uno, remember that he was a stand-up guy, someone you should
be proud to "be" in this fun little drama activity.
The first American president was one of the greatest people ever
to walk the face of the Earth. Kids should know about George Washington, often
called "The Father of Our Country," the person for whom we named the capital
city of our nation, Washington, D.C. Putting together some brief, creative
one-act plays about his life would be a great way to make sure they know who Washington
Here's how to put on three related
one-act plays based on Washington's life. It works best with four or five students.
But you can pull it off with one child and one "stage assistant." The important
thing to add is: an audience! You can vary the supplies listed below based on
the number of participants. This is assuming there will be five kids in the
Things to gather in advance:
Large cardboard box
Plastic tape, Scotch tape and
Green construction paper, or green
paint, or green crepe paper
Red construction paper, paint or
Markers or paint
Two large dowels and two short ones
String or twine
Covered elastic bands for hair
Two stretchy headbands
Two large fake feathers, or clumps
of smaller ones
Adult-size shirts, including at
least one navy blue or black one, or a pea coat
White tights or knee socks
Red or gold belt or fabric
Black felt pirate's hat, turned
Black construction paper to make
Navy blue sheet or fabric
Large (1 foot square?) clear plastic
air-filled packing squares
and Props. Perhaps the adult should do the cutting in advance, or do it with
the kids looking on. Slit the cardboard box with the utility knife so that it
lays flat. On the side with no printing, using the right half, cut a large tree
with the utility knife. Out of the remainder, cut a boat. Out of the scraps,
cut a hatchet and two muskets. Decorate with paint, markers, construction paper
or crepe paper, so that you end up with a cherry tree, a simple boat, a silver
(foil?) hatchet, and two Revolutionary War-style muskets.
For George Washington, fashion a ponytail and sprinkle baby powder on the
child's head, being careful not to let the child breathe it in or get it in his
or her eyes; put on black felt pirate's hat; the navy or black shirt and belt
with fabric; roll up the child's pants to just below the knees so that white
socks cover the shins; cut out construction paper "boots" and/or black paper
"buckles" and tape over shoes.
For the battle scenes, if you get really fancy, you could fashion
ornamental epaulets for George's shoulders out of construction paper and tape
on, and a red or gold cummerbund signifying that he was the commander.
For George's father, you could do much the same thing, only with a
For two Native Americans, put headbands on and stick a feather to
the side or back; they can wear the adult shirt and their own pants or tights
For two soldiers, "dress" with rags, including tying rags around
stocking feet as "boots."
For the Indians' bows and arrows, tie string or twine on the top
and bottom of the larger dowel, and fashion arrowheads out of paper and tape to
the end of the smaller dowels. Make sure to warn the child to be really careful
that they don't poke anyone's eye out with the sharp sticks; perhaps they could
just pretend to shoot the arrows and not really release them.
When young George Washington cuts down the cherry tree with the hatchet, you
could have a child holding up the "tree" fall down to the side in a humorous
The Indians and soldiers in the
second play can act out surprise and fear as they aim right at George
Washington, riding his stick horse, but can never hit him. Then they all get
shot in the end, and they'll enjoy acting that scene out to the max.
To "cross" the Delaware River in the
third play, have two "stage assistants" or children hold the navy-blue sheet
low to the ground. Place several air-filled plastic packing bags on it to serve
as "ice." Shake the fabric slightly to resemble watery waves. George
Washington, in the front of the boat, and the soldiers behind him, one lifting
high the American flag, all carry the boat over the icy "river" to carry out
their battle plan.
If you have enough children, you
could appoint a narrator to tell most of the story, but give George Washington
a few lines. Basic stories for each of the plays:
This is apparently not a true story,
but it is traditionally told to show George Washington's honesty. When he was a
little boy, he had a toy hatchet on his farm in Virginia. He went all around
the farm chopping at things, removing the bark from scrub trees and so forth.
It was harmless fun. But then one day, he saw his father's expensive young
cherry tree, imported from England. He couldn't resist temptation. He chopped
it down! When his father came home, he went into a rage. He demanded to know
who had chopped down his favorite tree. Little George stepped right forward.
"Father, I cannot tell a lie. It was I, with my little hatchet." George's
father cut him a break, saying, "The fact that you told me the truth, right
away, is worth more to me than a thousand trees, even if they had leaves of
gold and bark of silver!"
Miraculous Survival Through Battle
When George Washington was a young
adult, he was in charge of some soldiers in the French and Indian War. They
were greatly outnumbered by Frenchmen and Indians in one battle. But George
Washington bravely led the troops to hang in there. He had two horses shot out
from under him, but he kept on fighting. In the end, his side won. Everyone was
amazed at how his coat had four bullet holes in it, and yet he hadn't been
wounded - not a scratch on him. The Indians later said that they kept shooting
their arrows right at him, because they could tell he was the leader, but they
could never hit him, so they got scared and ran away. Some say this was
evidence that the hand of God was on George Washington, keeping him alive so
that he could go on to lead the way toward our country's birth.
Crossing the Delaware
During the Revolutionary War, the
American soldiers did not have very good supplies, compared to the British. In
fact, money had run out for them to even have decent uniforms. It was winter in
New England, and very cold. Some of them had only rags to wear, including rags
wrapped around their feet instead of boots. But George Washington figured out
how to surprise the British and win a big victory that encouraged the ragtag
army. He waited until Christmas night, when the British had been feasting and
partying all day, and were fast asleep, probably because they had been drinking
alcohol. Washington figured they would not bother to have watchmen since it was
Christmas Night. He was right! He got his soldiers into small boats and crossed
the icy Delaware River. They were completely undetected by the British, and so
George Washington's soldiers won a huge victory that was a turning point in the
For more about
George Washington: www.eagleforum.org/educate/washington/conduct.html