Like so many things in our fast-paced and action-packed world, it is easy (for kids and adults alike) to overlook the “behind the scenes” aspects of life and take for granted all the effort required to make something come to fruition. This is certainly the case when it comes to our nation’s Independence Day. Even the more common reference of “Fourth of July” seems to negate what the holiday represents and the blessing of having our independence and freedom. If you want to be sure that this holiday is not another one that goes under appreciated for what it really is in your household, consider celebrating the real meaning and significance of Independence Day this year. Here are a few family-friendly ways to do just that.
-Fly Our Nation’s Flag
Simply flying the American flag at your house can be an important and easy way to teach your kids how a little respect and appreciation for our country, freedom, and those who have fought for it can go a long way. This simple act of patriotism has certainly not lost its significance. Don’t agree? Just look around the stadium at the fans and the flags they fly with pride for their country at the World Cup, and you’ll be reminded that patriotism and passion for your country is vital and special.
In the process, teach or remind your kids what the flag represents and symbolizes. Also, remind them of how to respect the flag with the way it is handled and that it should not touch the ground. Explain that it stands for our whole country and shows we're connected to each other as Americans -- we're on the same “team”. The 50 stars stand for our 50 states. The 13 stripes stand for the original 13 British colonies, whose citizens decided in 1776 that they wanted to govern themselves rather than be ruled by a king.
-Create a Family Handprint Flag
Gather the family for a fun evening of conversation and crafts. Using a large white poster board or a white canvas (if you want something more permanent to use in your home as a decoration) plus red and blue washable or tempura craft paint, you have the base for a family flag. Choose the family member(s) with the smallest hands to create the blue and white part of the flag by dipping their hand in blue paint (that is spread on a paper plate) and pressing their handprint down scattered several times throughout the top left of the board like “stars”. The other members of the family with larger hands can do the same thing using red paint. With the red, create rows of red handprints throughout the rest of the canvas to create the stripes while being sure to leave stripes of the white canvas in between each red row to form the white rows. As you create the flag, talk about why each of you are grateful for your freedom or what freedoms we have are most significant to you personally. Let the flag dry flat before displaying it.
-USA Birthday Cake
Our country's birthday is July 4th. It marks the day in 1776 that a group of determined patriots declared our independence and would not allow another country to rule us. This act was extremely dangerous, but American patriots knew the battle was worth it in order to be free to govern themselves. The simple act of making a birthday cake and singing “Happy Birthday” to America can help even young children to start to understand what we are really celebrating.
For older kids, consider extending the conversation and activities surrounding Independence Day for them around the significance of the Pledge of Allegiance, our National Anthem, our country’s Presidents, our rights and responsibilities as American citizens, etc.
Don’t let the significance of Independence Day escape unnoticed this year and beyond!
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