In this upper grade President's Day activity, students research 3 different presidents (I wanted to make sure everyone didn't choose Washington and Lincoln), decide who they think is the most influential, then type an essay about the president they chose.
Links to websites about presidents: whitehouse.gov, Social Studies for Kids, Miller Center
I gave my students an hour and 10 minutes for this activity. (If I had more time, I would have separated the assignment into two days: day one - research, day two - writing.) What I liked best about this activity is that it wasn't about the final product, it was more about the learning my students did along the way.
P.S. Someone asked about good ideas for Black History Month... Here is the same template switched so that students are researching famous black Americans.
Links to websites about famous black Americans: Fact Monster, Encyclopedia Britannica, Social Studies for Kids