A little planning and creativity go a long way when searching out ideas for teaching children about Independence Day. Storytelling, field trips, media productions, and crafts are possible ways to engage kids in learning about the birth of our country.
- Let's keep the story in history! A good story is a powerful as a way to communicate ideas and historical events. Check out the historical fiction shelves at your local library in the kids section. A good story is one that is focused. A book on Paul Revere or Thomas Jefferson weave rich details about the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or the significance of the Liberty Bell. Here are some titles for your child's book bag: "The Fourth of July Story" by Alice Dalgliesh, " John Hancock: Independent Boy" by Kathryn Cleven Sisson, "Apple Pie Fourth of July" by Janet S. Wong, "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie, and " Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?" by Jean Fritz
- Once the kids have an idea what we celebrate on July fourth every year, a fun way to help reinforce those ideas is to make a notebook. Teaching children about Independence Day can become a summer's day creative pursuit. Give each a child several pieces of blank paper (lined or unlined will depend on the goal she sets for herself). Write a key concept, such as liberty, freedom, Declaration of Independence, Liberty Bell, Philadelphia or the names of the key players of this dramatic time in our nations history on the top of each page. Her task becomes writing, drawing, or referencing as many interesting details, facts, stories about that topic. Compile these in a three ring binder, or bind between two pieces of poster board cut to 8 x 10 size. When she is finished, she will have a notebook with information about Independence Day that resonates with her.
- If you child is not interested in making a notebook, creating a map of Philadelphia would be more up her alley. Important landmarks such as Independence Hall, the placement of Liberty Bell, or the Old North Church can be marked on the map. A fun, two dimensional map could include game piece type houses as markers for the buildings, and a small miniature bell. These can be glued on with a super strong adhesive. Give her the supplies, and let her creativity take over! This is a perfect way of learning by doing.
- Walking the streets of Philadelphia is another way to learn by experience, seeing firsthand the city where significant events happened. Of course, if going to Philly is out of the question, a virtual tour online is the next best thing. Plus you won't get a sunburned nose or blistered heels.
- Historical documentaries have been used in teaching children about Independence Day for years. Fortunately, there are many newer more engaging ones today, than back a couple decades ago. Movies with historical significance can add to a child's understanding of July fourth, as well.
- Teaching children about Independence Day isn't complete without a look at our celebrations. Fireworks, picnics and apple pie are traditional ways of celebrating this important holiday. However, if you take a look around, you'll see that the richness and diversity of our country is evident in the many different ways people celebrate.
- Of course, food is another way to teach children about Independence Day. Making it, sharing it and eating it all have a place in our lesson plans. Use this opportunity to unleash your creativity with different textures, tastes and visual treats that encompass the essence of red, white and blue. A fun and easy breakfast treat is to layer strawberries, vanilla yogurt and blueberries in a clear drinking glass. Talking about the significance of the colors of our flags colors will be long remembered after the last blueberry is eaten.
Teaching children about Independence Day can be a fun, creative activity for you and the children in your life this summer!
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