Happy Birthday George Washington!

By Katie R Brownell

The Friends of Bennington Battlefield Junior Historians honored our Nation’s first president with a 290th birthday party at this month’s Junior Historian program.  In speaking with the kids who had been participating in the program at our January event, they all claimed that they knew everything there was to know about George Washington. Naturally this led to some questions about the life of our first president.  It turned out that the kids didn’t know George as well as they thought they did, and so the inspiration for our party game was born! It was time to begin researching and designing!

The program began with a read aloud of a picture book biography about George Washington. The participants were then divided into groups to make a craft and play party games. The craft for this program was a George Washington puppet, which the children colored, cut out and glued together.  For our party game we played a custom designed board game about the life of George Washington, called You Don’t Know George! With over 30 children in attendance, this has been our most popular program to date! As our celebration drew toward a close, each child was given a snack mix bag, a cupcake, and each family was given their own copy of the board game to take home. It is truly a remarkable gift to see so many young historians and their families filling the museum and learning together. Our next program will focus on music of the 18th Century, and will be held on March 19th, from 3:00-4:30.

Here Are 5 Surprising Things Our Junior Historians Learned about George Washington:  

  1. His teeth were not made out of wood! They were made of extracted human teeth, animal teeth, ivory, and lead. As you might expect, Washington found these dentures very uncomfortable, and complained that they pushed his lips out.
  2. He never chopped down his father’s cherry trees! This story did not appear until it was published in an 1806 biography about George Washington by Mason Locke Weems. The president had passed away 7 years before Weems’ myth was written.
  3. George Washington did not wear a wig! Though wigs were a popular fashion accessory during the 18th Century, George Washington did not wear one. He did however, powder his own hair as was the fashionable custom at that time.
  4. George Washington had little formal education! After the passing of his father, 11-year-old George Washington’s life changed dramatically. With little funds for education, George did not attend college as his older brothers did. He had a private tutor and may have attended a school in Fredericksburg. He also supplemented his education through extensive reading and self-study.
  5. George Washington was inaugurated at Federal Hall in New York City! Washington D.C. had not yet been built at the time of Washington’s unanimous 1789 election to the presidency, and from 1785-1790, New York City was the Capital of the United States.

Additional photos from the day can be viewed on the Hoosick Township Facebook page.

The Jr. Historian program is made possible through funding from Stewart’s Shops, The Hoosick Township Historical Society and the Friends of the Bennington Battlefield.

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