Unit Study Supplement: Ronald Reagan, U.S. 40th President
Having been a radio host, sportscaster, and actor in his career, it is no surprise that President Ronald Reagan is often called “The Great Communicator.” It is said that his soothing tone of voice and his natural charm had total strangers quickly feeling like they were old friends. He took command of any stage and had a relaxed presence and an engaging sense of humor.
Prior to Donald Trump, Reagan was the oldest president ever elected. When his second term began he was 73 years old. During one of the debates for the presidency, Reagan joked, “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue in this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” Discover many more fun and interesting Ronald Reagan facts in this presidential unit study.
Ronald Reagan Fast Facts
|Presidential Order||40th President|
|Born||February 6, 1911|
|Death||June 5, 2004|
|State of Birth||Illinois|
|Name of Spouse||Nancy Davis|
|Served as President||1981 – 1989|
|Age When Elected to Office||69|
|Vice Presidents||George H.W. Bush|
There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.
Ronald Reagan Timeline
February 6, 1911Born to parents Nellie and John Reagan in Tampico, IL.
1928Graduated from high school where he was active in athletics and drama.
1932Graduated from Eureka College in IL with a degree in sociology and economics.
1937Enlists in the Army Reserves and is appointed 2nd Lt. of the Officers Reserve Corp of the Cavalry
1937Acts in his first film, Love is On the Air.
1940Marries actress Jane Wyman.
1942Assigned to Army Air Force Public Relations and the First Motion Picture Unit in CA.
1947Elected president of the Screen Actors Guild
1949Gets a divorce from Jane Wyman.
1952Marries actress Nancy Davis.
1962Changes his political affiliation from Democrat to Republican.
1965Publishes an autobiography, Where’s the Rest of Me? (a title of one of his previous films)
1966Elected governor of California.
1976Becomes a presidential candidate but loses the party’s nomination to Gerald Ford.
1980Runs again for president and wins with 51% of the popular vote.
1981Survives an assassination attempt.
1984Re-elected president of the U.S. with 59% of the popular vote.
1988Signs Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Ronald Reagan Fun Facts
When studying Ronald Reagan, important facts about his life in politics will probably be what you read most about. However, homeschoolers will also enjoy discovering some of the lesser known, but fun facts about America’s 40th president, such as the following.
Reagan is credited with saving 77 lives during the summers he worked as a lifeguard in his teens.
He won the “Most Nearly Perfect Male Figure” award from the University of California in 1940.
Also in 1940, Reagan played the role of footballer George Gipp in the film Knute Rockne, All American, which led to another one of his longtime nicknames, “The Gipper.”
As part of his duties with the First Motion Picture Unit in the Army Reserves, Reagan produced over 400 military training videos.
He acted in over 50 films in his motion picture career.
For eight years, he was a traveling spokesman for the General Electric corporation.
He experienced some permanent hearing loss when an actor fired a pistol too close to his ear during a film shoot.
Because Reagan was such a lover of jelly beans, 3.5 tons of red, white, and blue beans were delivered to the 1981 inaugural celebrations.
In his re-election bid, Reagan received 525 electoral votes, the most of any president in history.
The year before Reagan first took presidential office, America’s inflation rate was over 13%. When he left the presidency, it had dropped to 4%.
In 2010, then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a senate bill making February 6 officially “Ronald Reagan Day” in California.
Hands-On Activities for President Reagan Unit Study
You’ve learned so many interesting facts about Ronald Reagan, but a fun way to truly get children engaged with a biographical study is by tying in hands-on activities. Below, you will find ideas, organized by grade level, for incorporating multisensory learning into your President Reagan facts research.
Elementary Ronald Reagan Activities
Elementary students will have fun emulating Reagan’s film career by creating their own stop-motion video using action figures or clay sculptures and taking smartphone pics of them moving by small degrees and combining the images into a short moving film.
Reagan wrote an autobiography about himself following his presidential terms. If your students were to write an autobiography of themselves, discuss with them the memories they would most like to include.
Middle School Ronald Reagan Activities
In 1988, Reagan was re-elected with the largest electoral college total ever: 525 votes. Print out a blank map of the United States and mark up the number of electoral votes each U.S. state is allowed.
During his political career, Reagan changed his political affiliation from Democrat to Republican. Have your middle schooler write a short persuasive essay outlining why they think this was a good idea or a bad idea.
High School Ronald Reagan Activities
Watch a military training video produced by Ronald Reagan (who also acts as the pilot in the film.) Have your high schooler write a “review” of the film that concludes whether or not it effectively conveys the information.
Inflation dropped dramatically during Reagan’s presidency. Using the example of a postage stamp, explore the stamp’s cost throughout history and compare it with the yearly consumer price index to see if stamps have actually risen in cost due to inflation, or if they are in line with historical values.
Quick Ronald Reagan Spelling Words