Best Digital Resources to Teach the Inauguration

Closeup of an American flag
(Image credit: iStock/OlegSirenko)

Most presidential inaugural ceremonies are a routine part of the democratic transfer of power, noted primarily for the incoming president's speech and the number of balls. But the unprecedented violence of the January 6th Capitol Riot demonstrates that democracy is not assured, even in the United States.  

The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris provides a rich opportunity for lessons about democracy, history, and the importance of good faith.  

Grades PreK-6

Inauguration Day Activities for Kids
From a simple word scramble and light-hearted Inauguration Day Bingo to the more substantial task of writing one’s own inaugural address, these Inauguration Day activities will get kids involved in our democratic process. 

EL Civics for ESL Students
A simple lesson with Inauguration Day basics for English Language Learners. 

U.S. Presidents Song for Kids
Introduce youngsters to the panoply of U.S. presidents with an amusing rap song that helps kids learn the names from Washington to Biden. A fun way to get young kids interested in the inauguration.  

Grades PreK-12

Teachers Pay Teachers Inauguration Resources
Choose from dozens of free preK-12 digital inauguration lessons created by educators for educators. Search by grade, subject and type of resource. 

Major Biden’s Indoguration Party
Not only will Joe Biden’s dog Major be the first shelter dog to grace the Rose Garden, but also he’ll be lauded by the Delaware Humane Association with his own “Indoguration” Zoom Party ($10 donation). This fun way to support homeless pets will be hosted by the Today Show’s Jill Martin and features special guest 14 year-old entrepreneur Sir Darius Brown. 

Grades 4-12

Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies
The official U.S. Senate site for inaugural ceremonies includes a timeline of the events, text of remarks from Sen. Roy Blunt (R, Missouri), and inaugural history and tidbits, such as the construction of the inaugural platform, and who normally attends. 

Top Fact Checking Sites
The events preceding the 2021 inauguration are unlike any previous presidential inauguration. To understand the ongoing news and controversies and to distinguish fake news from real information, students should visit impartial fact-checking sites. 

Grades 6-12

The Inauguration of George Washington
George Washington set out on his inaugural journey to New York April 16, 1789. In this exercise, students analyze Washington’s diary entry from that day. 

Inaugural Quiz
How much do you know about presidential inaugurations? Take this 10-question quiz as is—or use the answers to create a Jeopardy! Style contest for your students 

7 Ideas for Teaching About the Presidential Inauguration
Seven Common Core Standards-aligned lesson ideas for teaching about the inauguration. 

Historical Inauguration Speeches – YouTube
C-Span presents 12 presidential inaugural address videos, from Franklin Roosevelt through Barack Obama. 

EF Explore America
An organization which helps teachers create educational travel for their students, EF Explore America is hosting a virtual inauguration watch party. Students will witness democracy in action, learn about past presidents and what it means to be an American citizen, as well as hear from special guest speaker Peter Yeo, Senior Vice President of the United Nations Foundation. The 4.5-hour event will be available on Explore America’s YouTube channel afterward. 

The Worst Presidential Inaugurations, Ranked
What makes a bad presidential inauguration? How about a blizzard or an outbreak of a deadly disease? Let’s hope the 2021 Inauguration doesn’t make this list! 

Grades 9-12

“I Do Solemnly Swear...” Presidential Inaugurations
Also from the Library of Congress, this extensive assembly of inaugural resources covers every president from George Washington to Barack Obama. The collection includes diaries and letters of presidents and of those who witnessed inaugurations, handwritten drafts of inaugural addresses, broadsides, inaugural tickets and programs, prints, photographs, and sheet music.  

Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States
From George Washington to Donald J. Trump, read the complete text of all presidential addresses, both first and second terms. 

Inaugural Addresses: Comparing and Contrasting Inaugural Addresses (PDF, 229 KB, 2 pgs.)
Students compare and contrast the inaugural addresses of Lincoln, Grant, Reagan and Obama, considering tone, topics, rhetoric, aims and state of the nation.  

Teaching Tolerance Inaugural Prayers in History
This lesson guides students in a discussion of religion as it intersects with politics and government in America. What kind of clergy have delivered an Inaugural prayer or address? Is the presence of religion consistent with the U.S. Constitution? Why or why not?  

What you need to know about Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration
The Washington Post provides the basic facts about the upcoming ceremony: who, what, where, when and how. A great starting point for a discussion or lesson about any aspect of the day. 

10 inaugural moments that mattered
CNN Politics presents this examination of 10 key inaugural moments, from Washington’s tone-setting first inauguration to Obama’s history-making inauguration in 2009. 

What we know about Biden’s inauguration plans
On this far-from-normal Inauguration Day, how will the ceremony and festivities be affected by ongoing security concerns? Use this article as a stepping-off point for a class lesson on democratic norms, faith in the system, and how the threat of violence imperils both.  

Grades K-12

Official 2021 Inauguration Site
Find out the day’s schedule, where to watch the Inaugural remotely, and how to host a virtual watch party. Have your students record their own videos in response to the prompts “Tell Us Your Vision for America,” “What Does Kamala Harris Becoming Vice President mean to you?” and “A Celebration of Frontline Heroes.” Be sure to check out the Inauguration Day Digital Swag Bag, a fun collection of inauguration coloring pages and music. 

Presidential Inaugurations: I Do Solemnly Swear
This five-step detailed lesson plan for swearing-in activities includes a wealth of lesson extensions. 

 “I Do Solemnly Swear…”
This collection from the Library of Congress includes photographs, manuscripts, campaign posters, letters, broadsides, and inaugural speeches from 18 presidents. 

5 Presidential Inauguration Activities for Students
These five imaginative, open-ended lessons allow students to explore important questions about the 2021 Inauguration and our democracy. 

Ten Great Classroom Activities for the Presidential Inauguration
Ten lesson plans help students investigate presidential inaugurations through writing, trivia games, poetry, graphic arts, journalism and the media. 

Diana Restifo

Diana has been Tech & Learning's web editor and contributor since 2010, dedicated to ferreting out the best free tech tools for teachers.