Making the Fourth of July a Fun Learning Experience

by Dr. Mary Zurn June 30, 2010

The Fourth of July is a popular time for picnics, barbecues and of course, fireworks displays. Each of these family celebrations demonstrates a national spirit of patriotism and citizenship. When we include our little ones in these festivities they learn that the Fourth is a special day, but they don’t yet understand the significance of the holiday. They’re not quite able to readily connect fireworks with our forefathers in a meaningful way. The following activities are ones that will help them begin to understand why Independence Day is an important celebration for our country.

Start by explaining that the Fourth of July is a birthday party for our country. It’s always helpful to introduce an unfamiliar concept by relating it to something very familiar. Children know all about birthday parties, and they’re likely to be very impressed to hear that the United States is 234 years old! You may even make the case that fireworks are a special kind of birthday candle. Just be sure that if you light any “birthday candles” for your family that you practice fireworks safety.

Make or purchase a small American flag just for your child. There is probably no greater symbol of patriotism than the stars and stripes, and American flags are everywhere around the Fourth.  Children love to wave their flags as they march around, and there’s no better marching music than “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa. Teach them about the history of the flag by reading a wonderful book, Betsy Ross, written by Alexandra Wallner. Your children will enjoy drawing, painting or creating an American flag with red, white and blue construction paper.

Sing patriotic songs. Teach your child the words to “Yankee Doodle” or make a playlist of popular patriotic songs to sing at your Fourth of July celebration.

Get crafty. Disney®Family Fun magazine offers many engaging arts and crafts projects for families in recognition of the holiday. From festive red, white and blue fans to edible American bald eagles, it’s easy to find something fun for everyone. When you repeat these kinds of activities from one year to the next, they become one of your family’s traditions. They are a great reminder for both parents and children of the real reason we celebrate the Fourth of July, and can help build the foundation for a sense of patriotism in even the youngest American citizen.

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