Fostering Patriotism on the Fourth of July

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What does it mean to love America, and how can parents instill national pride in their kids? Learn how to make Independence Day fun and festive while teaching a little history along the way!

Like most children, my daughter, Abigail, loves holidays. She loves to decorate, make up holiday games, and anticipate the festivities. But the Fourth of July is a different story. Abigail was never very interested in celebrating Independence Day, and upon reflection, I realized that I hadn’t been very good about communicating its significance to her. Last year, I tried to explain the reasons we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but I found it challenging to articulate the concepts of freedom, liberty, and equality.

Many parents struggle with the same thing. Patriotic holidays just don’t have the same tangible benefits for children, like colorfully wrapped presents, an opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap, or trick-or-treat bags full of candy. Even if you find it difficult to explain the historical happenings behind Independence Day, there are still some things you can do to excite your children about the upcoming holiday and instill pride in their country.

Food for the Fourth

A surefire way to get children excited about an upcoming event is to bake something that smells good and tastes yummy. There are all kinds of fantastic recipes for the Fourth of July! A family favorite of ours is the traditional flag cake—a basic sheet cake decorated with fruit to become festive and patriotic. For this fun and easy dessert, just make a regular rectangle sheet cake. Frost with white frosting or whipped cream and use sliced strawberries for the stripes and blueberries in the corner. The kids love putting the fruit onto the cake.

If July is hot and your kids need a cool treat, try red, white, and blue sundaes! Simply put a bit of marshmallow crème in the bottom of a tulip glass and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. Top it with a dollop more of crème, cherries on one side, and blueberries on the other. Quick and delicious!

If you’re looking for more summer recipes—great for a Fourth of July cookout or anytime—check out Summer Food for the Family for delicious ideas!

Role Play

One year, a few weeks before July Fourth, my husband and I pretended to be the King and Queen of the household—a role that we enjoyed immensely! The kids chose which two of the original 13 colonies they wanted to be. We then carried out our usual morning activities with one change: the King and Queen dictated the clothes the “colonies” wore, the food they ate, and the activities in which they participated. We didn’t give them any choices and we taxed them on their breakfast. Within a few hours, they tired of the game and began to rebel, which was what we hoped would occur.

Over lunch, we talked about the rights of individuals, equality among people, and respect as it related to the colonies and their separation from England. We also drew the parallel to self-respect and respecting each other as it relates to our family and daily life. By the time lunch was over, the kids eagerly agreed it was time to declare their freedom.

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