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Presidential Inaugurations

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Duration:  One 35-45 minute lesson.


Students will understand the purpose of inauguration day and the meaning of the events that occur.


  • Students will be able to identify what takes place during an inauguration.
  • Students will be able to show understanding of inauguration day by writing their own inauguration speeches.
  • Essential Question: What goes on during a presidential inauguration?

    NCSS Themes:

  • Theme 10- Civic Ideals and Practices
  • Procedures:

    Attention Getter:

    Tell students that there once was a person who gave a speech that included a sentence that was over 700 words long. Ask them to guess who gave the speech and what it was about. As students make a few guesses, give them a few spaced out clues such as: the person was a president, the speech took place in 1797, etc. Eventually, tell students it was President John Adams giving his inauguration speech. (See backgrounder for more details)

    Main Lesson:

    1) Ask students to tell you what they think inauguration day is and what they actually know about it.

    2) Take this time to go over some background information on inauguration day with students from the attached “Teacher’s notes” page and to correct misconceptions. (For more information and interesting facts, refer to the backgrounder).

    3) Have a class discussion by asking students what they think presidents would say in their inauguration speech and why they would include those topics. As students bring up speech topics, write them down in bullet point form on the board or overhead.


    When the class discussion is winding down, tell students to think about the bullet points on the board and also to think of even more speech topics on their own. Tell students to take out a piece of paper and write their own Presidential Inauguration speech as if they were just elected and sworn into office. Have them think about the topics that are important to them to help guide them in the writing process.

    Materials Needed:

    Teacher’s notes, backgrounder, paper for speeches

    Extension Activities

    1) When students are finished writing their speeches, have them exchange with someone and discuss what their reaction would be if they heard the speech.

    Accommodations for students with special needs

    1) Provide a copy of the notes.

    2) Instead of writing out a whole speech, have certain students write bullet points of what they would say or to fill out a graphic organizer.

    Teacher’s Notes:

    Presidential Inaugurations:

  • Takes place every four years on January 20th after a general election
  • In the case January 20th falls on a Sunday, the inauguration is held on the following day
  • This day is symbolic of the unity of the people of the United States, regardless of political views
  • Inauguration Day events:

    -The president swears in by putting his hand on a bible and taking the oath of office

    -The president gives a speech about the plans and visions for the next four years

    -Celebrations such as parades, parties, etc.