Monday, June 30, 2014

Happy Birthday, America!

We live in a small town that LOVES the Fourth of July.  Folks begin putting their chairs out along the parade route the Sunday before, so I figured this was also a good time to start our celebration. Here's what we've been doing to prepare for the big day.

In the music department, the kids have enjoyed learning Yankee Doodle.  I also taught them When the Saints Go Marching In, because even though it has nothing to do with Independence Day, it is played by the jazz bands in our town parade.  The kids love singing it while they play "marching band" through the house.  We have a lot of bells, so in one of my never-too-successful attempts to introduce my kids to poetry, I read Longfellow's The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere  while they ran through the house ringing their bells and chanting "one if by land, two if by sea!!"  Not quite as stealthy as Paul Revere, but I hope something might sink in.

Ben's Fourth of July Fireworks
We've had a few red, white, and blue art projects, including coloring pages, which I always have on hand for a quiet morning or evening activity.  We also tried this simple Straw Fireworks Painting Project.  There are also so many great cooking projects for kids that come with the Fourth.  We made some red finger jell-o the other night, but I look forward to trying some of these other patriotic recipes.

As for books, here are a few we've been reading:
Another one about the American Revolution that I haven't read since elementary school (but did just request from the library) is My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier.  I probably read it around age 8 and it was the book the began my love of historical fiction.  For young adults, I recommend Johnny Tremaine by Esther Forbes. 

For adults, excellent biographies on the key players in the Revolution abound.  My favorite is probably Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson.

Stamping out fireworks
While I love the celebration of the Fourth of July: the food, the parades, the fireworks, I am well aware of the fact that freedom and independence aren't enjoyed by everyone in this country.  To this end, I encourage everyone to speak openly with their children about what this country stands for, the ideals that we strive for, and what we can all do in our communities to ensure that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are equally accessible to all.  I truly welcome any and all suggestions for books and activities folks have found to help raise awareness in children.  We wish everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July!

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