July 4th is a holiday full of fireworks, parades, and picnics. We take the kids out to see a parade with the local high school band, floats, and fire engines. After the parade, we go home and fire up the grill in preparation for enjoying the rest of the day with friends and family. The day ends with spectacular displays of fireworks and the kids holding sparklers in the dark.
What gets lost in all this activity is the meaning behind the Fourth of July celebrations. Help your kids understand why we celebrate this day, a day that we also call Independence Day. Here are some suggestions on how.
1. Watch Some Movies
Whether your kids are younger or older, there are some great movies to watch. If you have family and friends over, all the kids can watch a movie. The adults can watch right along with them! Everyone can learn about the events leading to the the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, and some of the Founding Fathers. Some viewing options include the musical 1776 as well as tv series, such as Liberty’s Kids and the award-winning John Adams series. If movie watching doesn’t fit in your schedule for the day, you can watch the day before and talk to the kids about what took place in the movies.
2. Read Some Books
Pay a visit to the local library or bookstore (brick and mortar or internet) and grab one or more of these books. Most of them are for children, but they are fun to read and very educational.
3. Watch Some Videos and Take Some Quizzes
You don’t need to go out and buy, rent, or borrow books and movies to help your kids learn about Independence Day. You can find some things for the kids to do online.
- American Revolution at neok12.com
The Neok12.com site has some interesting educational videos and presentations about the Revolution (including one from Sesame Street). There are also some quizzes and a way for the kids to create their own picture and text presentation about the Revolution! (For kids starting around 5th grade.)
- Learn About Independence Day
This is a brief history of Independence Day that you and the kids can read. Then you can take a quiz and see how much you remember!
4. Surf the Internet
There are many great Web sites where kids and adults alike can go an learn about the American Revolution and the meaning of July 4th. Here are some of the best: Liberty!
- The American Revolution
- The History Place: The Declaration of Independence
This site is really cool! It has a portion of the original draft of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson with edits by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. There is also a link to an audio file so you can listen to a reading of the Declaration (Did you know it was meant to be read out loud, not read?)
- Revolutionary War
This site has some short stories about some very important people, some of whom you might not have heard about, like Anna Strong.