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10 Tips For Teaching Your Kids About Independence Day

by Jessica Parnell | Jun 30, 2014 | 2 min read

For many Americans this week will be filled with picnics, fireworks, and red, white & blue popsicles. And while I love a good old BBQ as much as the next American, I’m troubled by the reality that, like most holidays, Independence Day has become more about food and fun and less about the history and freedom that defines it.

So what? Why should we care about Independence Day? Because 14 percent of American teens think we declared independence from France (another 5 percent think it was Canada), and 3 out of 4 graduates aren’t proficient in civics. That’s scary.

As parents, and homeschoolers, it’s vital we ensure our kids understand American history and how politics their country works. Because if they don’t understand American politics, how can they participate? If they don’t get why representation was worth dying for, why would they demand it for themselves? And, if they don’t understand what freedom meant then, how can they begin to understand that those same freedoms apply to them and, for many, are still worth dying for today?

This is a great week to spend some time in the history books and, because the holiday involves food and explosives, you have a much higher chance they’ll engage and not tune out the second they hear the word “history.” Isn’t this what we parents live for? Organic opportunities to teach our kids about the stuff that matters without removing the “fun factor?” That’s what Independence Day hands us on an antiqued silver platter: the opportunity to weave a bit of truth and history into our children’s definition of what it means to be “American.”

To help you plan some history-inspired activities this year, we’ve compiled a list of patriotic factoids and activities you can use to teach your little ones about the true importance of this American holiday.

  1. Teach them about the actual events of the first July 4th so they can understand why we celebrate it today.
  2. Learn about the extensive history of the Liberty Bell:
  3. Study the history of the American Flag and learn how to properly fold it.
  4. You can have your children read various sections of the Declaration of Independence and explain to them what it means and the freedoms it gives every American.
  5. Here’s a cool idea: have you children design a ballot box and collect votes for vanilla versus chocolate ice cream, or hot dogs versus hamburgers. Have them discuss campaign strategies or political posters to help them understand the importance of proper representation.
  6. You can also sneak some science into the mix by teaching your kids how fireworks actually work. It’s informative and teaches them the very real dangers of playing with fireworks.
  7. Have your kids help decorate your July 4th BBQ with patriotic arts and crafts.
  8. To wind things down you could sing patriotic songs or watch a Independence Day movie.
  9. Become a U.S. detective –– research together why the bald eagle, Liberty Bell, and Statue of Liberty are so important to America.
  10. Research historical American landmarks and plan a family trip to learn more about our great nation!

Always remember to keep your activities fun and engaging, or you might end up facing a revolution of your own!
Now it’s your turn parents: What fun Independence Day activities have you used in the past? What do you have planned for this year?

Jessica Parnell
Hello everyone! I’m Jessica Parnell — mom, homeschool evaluator, teacher, and CEO of Bridgeway Academy. In my 20+ years of experience as a homeschool mom and evaluator, I have had the privilege of meeting homeschoolers that take a variety of approaches to their education. It is their many stories and successes that inspire me in my own homeschooling and I love to pass on the knowledge that I have gained from them to other homeschooling families. The one constant that always remains true is that there’s no such thing as a “cookie cutter child.” Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made and as a result, learns and functions differently. It’s our job to ensure that we’re raising each child to fulfill their individual purpose and when we can teach in a way that inspires them, we are on our way to homeschool success. When I’m not writing or teaching my children, I like to ski, write and participate in triathlons. I graduated from Kutztown University with a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Masters in English and I am currently pursuing a degree in Neuroleadership.
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