To kids especially (and okay--to many adults as well), the world of politics can seem at least a little intimidating and boring at best. But on closer inspection, the political arena has been filled with a host of colorful characters throughout the years.
Below are 10 intriguing trivia tidbits about our nation’s past presidents (they may each have been a powerful leader of the free world at one point, but they were also people--some extraordinary, some strange, but all human, just like us).
Scatter these factual morsels into conversation at the dinner table and see what discussions they spark. You could also turn them into a quiz show of sorts, with awards for correct or most creative answers. It’s not about nailing down facts--it’s about getting to know the guys who made America what it is today.
• A minimum of 300 billion portraits of Abraham Lincoln have been created--that’s how many pennies have been made since 1787.
• Sixth president John Quincy Adams had a pet alligator that lived in a bathtub at the White House.
• The first president born a U.S. citizen was Martin Van Buren. His birthday was December 5, 1782, making him the first president born after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
• John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the only presidents to sign the Declaration of Independence, and they both died on its 50th anniversary, July 4, 1826.
• Nine presidents never attended college, including Washington and Lincoln. However, Lincoln was an avid reader and self-educated.
• At 6 feet 4 inches standing, Abraham Lincoln was the tallest U.S. president. The shortest, James Madison, was 5 feet 4 inches.
• When he became president, George Washington had only one tooth. He wore dentures made of human or animal teeth, ivory, and lead, but never wood.
• George Washington is the only president that never lived in Washington, D.C. during his presidency.
• Andrew Jackson was the first president to have been born in a log cabin, and the first to ride a railroad train.
• Ronald Reagan was the oldest president inaugurated (age 69); the youngest was John F. Kennedy (age 43).
—Compiled by Kiddie Academy (kiddieacademy.com), a national education-based childcare organization
And now that you're armed with these fun facts, go have a conversation with your kids about politics! We talk all about the best ways to get started at "Talking Politics with Your Kids."