Independence Day is a lot of fun to celebrate! Kids of all ages enjoy picnics, parades, fireworks, and festive games and activities. But why do we do all this? And how do you explain it to young children? Here are some ideas to help explain the importance of Independence Day with your children.
Our Nations Birthday: July 4th is the birthday of our country. So celebrating this day is like a birthday party the whole country has together. It is the anniversary of the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed. For younger kids, this is a sufficient explanation.
Allowance Analogy: The colonists wanted to become independent from Great Britain, but why? For older kids, a good analogy is to think in terms of an allowance. If someone else, older than them, perhaps an older sibling, kept telling them what to do and at the same time kept taking their allowance, they would be upset and frustrated. This is how the colonists felt when they were being taxed without receiving any benefit and without representation. So they decided they wanted to become an independent country, and wrote a document to declare their independence from Britain. In conjunction with this analogy we suggest that you could read the Declaration of Independence, together as a family, and discuss freedom and rights, and that with freedom comes responsibility.
Symbols - Our Flag and National Anthem: Our flag is one symbol that represents our freedom. The first flag used the colors of the British flag, and those colors remained (red stands for courage, white stands for purity, and blue stands for loyalty). There are 13 stripes (red and white) to represent the original 13 colonies and a star to represent each state. It’s important to teach our children to respect this symbol of our nation. One way we do this is by reciting The Pledge of Allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Another symbol is our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. The lyrics were written by Francis Scott Key is 1814. Use this as an opportunity to sing this song together as a family. There is a picture book titled The Star-Spangled Banner, by Peter Spier, which includes images telling the story along with the text of the song. This would be a great way to teach it to young children.
The Liberty Bell: The Liberty Bell represents America’s freedom as well. The phrase “let freedom ring” suggests a feeling of pride and love for our country. The bell is located in Philadelphia, but because it cracked after the first time it was rung and again right after it was later repaired, now every fourth of July the bell is tapped not rung. Have your kids make a craft involving a bell or ring bells while they participate in holiday festivities such as a parade.
Take this opportunity to teach your children about the history of the Fourth of July and have fun celebrating our nation’s birthday. Happy Independence Day!