Independence Day is often referred to as simply the Fourth of July in the U.S. With the excitement of fireworks, barbecues and pool parties, the true meaning of the holiday is sometimes forgotten. In fact, it’s the celebration of a very significant event that our children should understand. The United States is still a relatively new nation when compared with its global counterparts such as England, France and Italy, each with their own unique histories. The story of America is still being written, and our children are essential to preserving our history and writing the next chapters.
Education expert Claire Haas with Kiddie Academy offers the following tips for teaching your children about U.S. history while also celebrating Independence Day this year:
- Celebrate America’s Birthday. Even the youngest children understand the concept of a birthday. Explain that this July 4th will be America’s 237th birthday. Bake a cake together, decorate it in patriotic red, white and blue, and sing Happy Birthday. Create birthday cards as part of your holiday decorations.
- Read sections of the Declaration of Independence together, and explain that it’s the reason we celebrate America on this date. You can find the text here at the U.S. archives. Talk about the courage it took for the men who signed the document to break away from England and establish a new nation.
- Become a U.S. detective — talk about American symbols and their history. For example, research together why the bald eagle, Liberty Bell and Statue of Liberty are so important to our nation.
- Learn a variety of patriotic songs, and sing them together with your child. America the Beautiful, The Star Spangled Banner and Yankee Doodle Dandy never go out of style! For extra learning, investigate the history and meaning of each song.
- Salute the flag. The stars and stripes we fly today has changed a great deal over the years. Explore the history of the flag, its design and creation. The Smithsonian, which preserved and houses the original flag that flew over Ft. McHenry, has a terrific Star Spangled Banner educational site.
Do you have any tips for teaching kids about America? What are some of your favorite ways to help children learn about and appreciate US History? How will you be celebrating Independence Day this year? Let us know in the comments.