Check out these simple tips to honor the 4th of July with your kids!
1. Explore an historical site.
Get in the mood for Independence Day by finding an American historical site near your home and making a trip to learn more about it. Did you know that there are more than 2600 places designated as National Historic Landmarks by the National Park Service? You can find a list by state on their website: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalhistoriclandmarks/list-of-nhls-by-state.htm. If you know of a location in your state that’s not included, you can nominate it to be included!
2. Learn about the flag and make one.
The flag is a ubiquitous symbol around the 4th of July, but do you or your kids know why we have the flag we do? Each artistic choice on the flag is intentional. Its 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies that fought for and won independence from Great Britain. There are 50 stars, one representing each state. Remind your kids that there weren’t always 50 states, and visit the National Flag Foundation website to show them some of our country’s previous flags. Once you’ve learned about the flag, you can make one easily using popsicle sticks, paint, and glue. Global Game Changers has directions on its site 911lesson.org.
3. Put together a playlist for your bash!
Most kids enjoy music, whether it’s making it, dancing to it, or just listening. Get them on board with the party spirit by identifying songs that remind you all of our country. Share the song that taught you the names of the 50 states and seek out new versions, like “Tour the States” by Renald Francoeur or old classics like Animaniacs’ “States and Capitals.” Add in classic patriotic songs like “Battle Hymn of the Republic” or the hymns from each branch of the military. And don’t forget to identify popular songs that connect with our country like Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind,” Toby Keith’s “American Soldier,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”
4. Make a mobile decoration
Create a 4th of July decoration that you can use every year. Cut paper stars from red, white, and blue construction paper and hang them with string or ribbon at different lengths from a wire hanger to create a patriotic mobile. Encourage kids to write or draw something on the star that enhances the spirit: Americans they want to honor or remember, reasons they love living in the United States, facts about our country or its history, or come up with your own patriotic theme.
5. Dive into American History
Our nation’s birthday is a great time to learn about all that has happened here since 1776. Independence Day is a holiday, so find ways to learn about history that don’t feel like teaching school. Explore an event through oral history by asking an older relative, neighbor, or friend to discuss it with your family. Consider viewing some or all of Hamilton to see history from the perspective of someone who was there at the nation’s founding. Read an adventure from the I Survived series of books and graphic novels, featuring stories like the American Revolution, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Joplin Tornado, and the Battle of Gettysburg. Or visit 911lesson.org for some easy and fun resources – beyond your personal memories — to educate kids about the attacks of 9/11.
6. Create your own time capsule.
As you learn about America’s past, remind your kids that today’s events will become history. Create a time capsule to help citizens of the future learn what it was like to live in the United States in 2022. Ask your kids what items to include, or what they think people will want to know about how we lived. Bury your capsule and imagine how the United States might look different on July 4, 2072!
Take advantage of these tips to add more meaning to your 4thof July, while keeping it a fun and enjoyable experience for the whole family!