Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Presidential Smile, Or Giving George a Grin

Besides all of his amazing accomplishments as a soldier and statesman, George Washington is probably best remembered for his grin.

We read, and discovered from Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora's George Washington's Teeth, just what was behind his smile - or lack of one. The poor president had terrible teeth, followed by difficult dentures.

The simple story, told in rhyme, is perfect for a President's Day story time for younger children, but there is also a fact filled timeline of Washington's dental history, and other events from his life, for older children and adults, at the back of the book.

It left us wondering how different the first presidential portraits might have looked if Washington had had access to modern dentistry, or maybe even a tube of proper toothpaste. To give the children an idea of what a difference a smile can make, I cut and pasted grins from the pictures of the presidents on the White House website, for a mix and match, who's grin is he wearing sort of activity.

Actually, only seven of the presidents are pictured with open mouth smiles. I borrowed two closed mouth smiles from among the rest, to make a nice square picture. Then I scrambled up the presidents, printed the pictures out in black and white so color variations, and skin tone wouldn't matter, and asked the children to figure out which of his predecessor's grins George had borrowed in each square.


Once the children had correctly identified each president's smile, I ask them which one they thought looked best on George Washington. They decided on President Clinton's smile, though that probably has more to do with facial shapes, than moral character, I'm sure.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

5 comments:

Raising a Happy Child said...

This is such a clever idea - learning about George Washington and other presidents at the same time. As I recall, GW wasn't exactly all saintly from character's perspective either.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Raising a Happy Child - It was fun to see how each smile gave him a little different personality. I think Bush Sr's makes Washington look a little sinister, while Eisenhower's gives him a Mona Lisa like quality - like he's got a secret.

Ticia said...

Some of those smiles do look rather scary........

I really enjoyed that book too, except the whole my being squeamish about all things related to teeth, ugh......

Christy said...

So very clever. I love it.

We just read George Washington and the General's Dog.

Katey (Having Fun at Home) said...

This cracked me up!