Inauguration Day 2021 : Kid-Friendly Programming and Activities
January 20, 2021 will be a historic day. Not only are we still deep in the midst of a pandemic that is keeping the usual throngs of people from attending the inauguration of a new President in person, but the incoming Vice President is bringing along with her a host of historic “firsts.” This is a day we, as Americans, will want to be engaging with and including our children in the experience!
Thankfully, there are some great ways to involve our kiddos in Inauguration Day 2021 through virtual programming and activities, opening up the path to discussions about democracy, citizenship, history, and our hopes for America’s future.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) has prepared a lineup of programming leading up to Inauguration Day. All programs can be watched live on the PIC social media channels YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch.
- Tuesday, 12 pm EST: “I Do Solemnly Swear: The U.S. Presidential Inauguration.” Discovery Education Program featuring an appearance from incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden. This program aims to teach students about the history of the inauguration.
- Wednesday, 10 am EST: “Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans.” Will take place before and during the inauguration ceremony starting at 10 a.m. EST. The event will also feature a message from incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden. Will also feature a segment on the new Presidential Pets!
Following the inauguration of the new administration, on Wednesday at 8:30 PM, Tom Hanks will host Celebrating America, a 90-minute special celebrating the inauguration with performances from Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Ant Clemons, and Jon Bon Jovi. Tune in to ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and MSNBC to watch. It will also be streamed live on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Bing, NewsNOW, DirectTV and U-verse.
Printables and Activities
Using the days leading up to the inauguration to learn about elections, the branches of government, the presidency, and what the democratic process involves is a great way to prepare for The Big Day! Here’s a great list of books to read when talking to kids about elections.
- The White House also has a 40 page printable document to help talk to kids about what Inauguration Day is and means to the country.
- Inauguration Day “I Spy” – As you watch the proceedings take place, play a game of “I Spy” with your kiddos and encourage them to notice the details taking place in the ceremony. Download this Inauguration Day I Spy Scorecard to keep track! The 2021 scorecard includes four pages of pictures and short biographies of the incoming president and vice president and their families, as well as the outgoing president and vice president and the leaders of the Supreme Court and Congress.
- Design the Oval Office – Imagine, what if you got to set up the Oval Office for YOUR presidency! Start a conversation with your kids about what the Oval Office is, how it is used, and maybe dig into some history about it! Print out a simple oval shape on a piece of paper and have your kiddos draw what their Oval Office would have in it!
- Write an Inaugural Address – This very important speech is the new President’s chance to lay out their plan for the nation, their values, and what they hope to accomplish during their administration. This guide from Scholastic can help kids write one of their own!
- Host an Inaugural Ball – Unlike previous inaugurations, this year’s event will NOT feature the numerous balls due to the Coronavirus. So, throw your own at home! Get dressed up, serve fancy foods, or give your favorite snacks themed names like “President Pretzels.” Play music, dance, or (if your kids are old enough) put on Hamilton on Disney+ and dig into the story of the founding of America!
- Write a letter to the new President or Vice President – Write a letter individually or together as a family to the new president or vice president and their families. This can be a great way for your kids to express to their leadership what issues they think are important and what they’d like to see achieved by the new administration. The conversation is a great way to let kids know that their words and beliefs matter. Go that extra step and mail it! Letters can be addressed to: The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500
The Historic Nature of Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris
After she takes the oath of office, Kamala Harris will be the first woman, Black person and Indian-American ever to serve as Vice President. As parents, we absolutely cannot allow this day to fly by without pausing to absorb and reflect on this incredible moment in history. Let’s talk to our kids about it! How does it make them feel that this is the very first time a woman will hold this very important office? Why do they think it has taken this long to have a person of color in this position before? View it as a launching pad to open up discussions about our history as a country and what it looks like to move forward as a nation and as citizens.
Watching the Inauguration with Your Kids
Beyond the usual questions of “How do I watch the inauguration?” that happen every time a new administration takes office, this year there are even more questions about how the American people will get to take part in this historic moment. The official website for the Biden-Harris inauguration can be found HERE.
- When is the Inauguration Ceremony? The ceremony will be held on the West Lawn of the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 12 p.m. EST, preceded by opening remarks, which usually begin around 11 or 11:30 a.m. EST. At noon, the ceremony will begin to swear in Vice President-elect Harris and President-elect Biden, followed by Biden’s inaugural address.
- How do I watch the Inauguration Ceremony? Most major networks — including ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, Telemundo, Univision, C-Span, CNN and MSNBC — will all be airing live coverage on television and on their websites and YouTube channels.
- How will the 2021 Inauguration Ceremony be different than those in the past? The main difference between Biden’s inauguration and those of the past is that we won’t see the upwards of 200K people attending in person due to the pandemic. Instead, attendees have been very limited and the majority of us will be watching via TV or streaming platforms. Plus, there will be increased security and law enforcement presence surrounding the Capitol following the events of January 6th, 2021 in an effort to keep all the participants safe. However, we can still expect some of the traditional pageantry, including musical performances and poetry readings. Following the ceremony the new President and Vice President will participate in a socially distanced Pass in Review in front of the Capitol, a military ceremony that represents the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another and for the Commander in Chief to review the readiness of the troops. The traditional parade will be a virtual. Biden will instead have a Presidential Escort to the White House, which will include representatives from every branch of the military.
Obviously, the way you choose to engage with your kiddos about Inauguration Day will depend a lot on their age, grade level, interests, etc. but no matter what you opt to do, let’s not miss the opportunity to involve our children in the democratic process. Answering their questions about democracy, our country’s history, and the importance of growing as an informed body of citizens is absolutely crucial to the longterm health of our country.