The day for fireworks, cookouts, and patriotism is almost here! While there is no doubt that barbecues and family get-togethers make the 4th of July exciting and memorable, Independence Day is about so much more than that. A 2001 poll by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation from 2001 found that 14% of U.S. teens believed that the 4th of July celebrates the day that America declared independence from France. Homeschoolers have a wonderful opportunity to ensure that their children understand the meaning behind the holiday that is the foundation of our nation’s existence.
There are plenty of fun 4th of July activities that also help children learn about the importance of Independence Day. This year, try some of these ideas to make the holiday memorable and educational at the same time!
1. Learn the history – In addition to at-home history resources, there are wonderful online options to help children learn about the people, documents, and events behind July 4th. Some choices:
- Ushistory.org offers a wealth of information on the Declaration of Independence, including a timeline of events, text of the Declaration itself, and additional links.
- History.com for information about the history and traditions of July 4th, as well as educational videos on the holiday.
- Charters of Freedom is a site from the National Archives which features images of and information about the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.
- Holidays.net includes information such as the story of America’s independence, the signers of the Declaration, U.S. flag etiquette, and even must-see fireworks displays.
2. Watch educational videos – These child-friendly teaching videos address everything from the independence of the 13 colonies to the role of George Washington.
- Schoolhouse Rock: Independence Day
- Schoolhouse Rock: Revolutionary War
- Schoolhouse Rock: No More Kings
- Discovery Education: General George Washington & the War of Independence
- Ignite Learning: Tension Between the Colonists and the British
3. Listen to old radio shows – Listen online to old radio shows with 4th of July themes at Old Time Radio Catalog. Includes one show about the signing of the Declaration of Independence, true stories from the radio of a squad car on July 4, 1934, and more!
4. Make a Fourth of July lapbook – Lapbook Lessons includes a page of free resources for creating a lapbook to celebrate Independence Day. This is a great way to have fun doing crafts, while helping kids learn about the holiday! Or consider this free lapbook by Lulu.
5. Make some patriotic food! What better way for kids to remember than for them to eat what they learn? Have kids help make these patriotic recipes, and talk to children about what the colors red, white, and blue represent for America, as well as the meaning behind the symbols of patriotism as they eat their way into the spirit of the holiday!
6. Read eyewitness accounts – Read the original letter from John Adams, reporting on his meeting with the British King in 1785, after America’s victory in the Revolutionary War. This online resource comes from the National Archives, and features a variety of eyewitness accounts from people throughout history. To read John Adams' account, simply click on "Contents" at the top right, and then choose "John Adams" under "Personal Encounters" on the right.
7. Do some crafts. Link Independence Day learning with some hands-on activities!
- Check out The Crafty Crow for fun ideas like luminarias, fireworks t-shirt, and button bracelets. The Crafty Crow also offers projects such as a flag garland, star spangled banner pinwheel, and Independence Day rag balls.
- Family Fun has a variety of great crafts. Some examples: a confetti launcher, spirited bike spinner, star garland, and 4th of July stilts.
- Enchanted Learning specializes in crafty projects for children in elementary grades. Options include a stand-alone star centerpiece, patriotic wind sock, patriotic plant pots, and a penny pendant.
- Examples of crafts at Kaboose: Uncle Sam hat treat holders, patriotic pony bead necklace, 4th of July salt dough pins, and a patriotic toddler pillow.
- Family Corner brings lots of spirited ideas to the holiday, including coffee filter fireworks flowers, glitter glue yarn stars, patriotic flip flops, and a patriotic candle jar.
8. Go on a web scavenger hunt. Based on grade level 2-4, this web-based scavenger hunt gives kids a fun way to search for information related to the fourth of July and history of Independence Day.
9. Listen to patriotic songs. If you don’t have any patriotic music of your own, listen online to songs such as Stars and Stripes Forever, My Country ‘tis of Thee, and America the Beautiful. As you listen to the music, read and discuss the lyrics and how they relate to Independence Day. Consider these sites:
- Wilstar.com (scroll down slightly to find the music)
- Patriot Icon
- Rhythm on the Rock
- Jack’s Midi Music