Hurray for the Red, White, and Blue!

Independence Day Activities

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Party decorations, fireworks art, homemade flags, and popping cupcakes are just a few of the parade of ideas to make your celebration of our nation’s birthday truly memorable!

The 4th of July, or Independence Day, celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. With a little planning and a lot of red, white, and blue, any family can organize a fabulous “patriotic party” to honor the founding of our country.

From cul-de-sac parades to potluck suppers, neighbors are brought closer together on this special day and weekend. So circle the lawn chairs, slip on an Uncle Sam hat, and get ready to enjoy a Fourth of July blast with your children and your neighbors’ kids, too.

Decorations

Penny Pendant

Cut out three stars for each pendant, each one a little bigger. Use red, white, and blue construction paper. The white star looks the best in the center. Glue each star together, lastly gluing the shiny penny (Lincoln side up) in the middle of the smallest star. Punch a hole near the top of the stars. Thread yarn through the pendant and knot it at the top. Do you know much about President Lincoln? This might be a good time to read a book about him. Wear this pendant with pride.

Fire Works Art

Place a white, blue, or black sheet of poster board on the sidewalk outside. Next, dip “Koosh Balls” into poster paint to coat them. Have your child take a ball and drop it down onto the poster board. This looks just like fireworks, and the kids love the part of throwing them! Just make sure to wear old clothes and have a hose nearby to easily clean up any paint on the sidewalk. When the paint dries on your board, enhance the fireworks display with glitter paints.

Patriotic Suncatchers

To make cute window hangings, invite your kids to brush liquid starch on a clear plastic plate (clear lids from large coffee cans work well too). Provide them with a variety of red, white, and blue tissue paper, pieces of crepe paper streamers, stars, sequins, and glitter. The starch soaks through the thin pieces and adheres these to the plate. Brush on a second coat to keep things in place. Let dry thoroughly, punch a hole at the top and hang in a sunny place with a ribbon loop.

Popsicle Stick Flag

Have the children paint six craft sticks red and five sticks white. Glue these in place alternating colors on a piece of cardboard. Brush a block of blue in the upper left corner. Invite the children to place sticker stars in this block. To hang, punch two holes into the top part of the cardboard and thread a piece of yarn for the hanger. This flag is not truly authentic, but the children will learn about the colors and formation of the American flag.

Smiley Face Uncle Sam

Use a lunch-size paper plate or a circle of the same size. Paint this with yellow poster paint. While this is drying, invite the kids to create a top hat out of cardboard. Either paint it with red, white, and blue stripes or glue felt pieces in place. Decorate with sticker stars. Glue or staple the hat onto the yellow circle. Draw in a GREAT BIG SMILE.

A Mural To Remember

Bring out the artistic side of your celebrants by setting out colored chalk and inviting them to draw a 4th of July sidewalk mural. Get all the children involved. They might try their hand at a colorful fireworks display, or as a team, create a giant American flag. If you have a sunny dry July, your sidewalk show of patriotism could keep the spirit of the Fourth alive for weeks. If a quick cleanup is necessary—a little soap and the garden hose will do the job well.

Games

Everybody Loves a Parade

Hold a star-spangled parade to get the kids and spectators in the patriotic spirit. The children can decorate bicycles, tricycles, wagons, and even toddler push toys to merrily march down the block. Use streamers (crepe paper or ribbons), flags, and balloons to show off America’s colors. Why not decorate the baby stroller and let your little one participate too? As a group project, older kids can thread red, white, and blue streamers through a chain link fence to make a flag. What a great way to get outdoors and mingle with your neighbors!

Happy Birthday USA

Discuss with your child that the 4th of July is the day when we celebrate the birthday of our country. Ask him/her to tell you his birthday and how the family celebrates this milestone. Build upon the idea that a birthday cake is a major part of this celebration, so provide the kids with vanilla frosted cupcakes. Set out shakers of red and blue sugar crystals so they can decorate a cupcake for America’s birthday party. Make sure you sing “Happy Birthday” to the U.S.A. before eating this treat. Here’s a cute poem to recite together:

Party Food

Patriotic Fruit Parfaits

Help the children layer vanilla yogurt and fruit inside a clear plastic cup. Place a layer of blueberries in the bottom of the cup. Next place a few scoops of yogurt. Now, a layer of sliced strawberries. Then, one more scoop of yogurt. Keep layering until you get to the top. A slice of “star fruit” on top would be grand.

“Pop, Bang, Boom” Cupcakes

Bake cupcakes according to your favorite recipe or box mix. Purchase a candy called “Pop Rocks” (they can be found in packages in specialty candy stores). Gently fold these into the frosting. Frost the cupcakes. When the pop rocks hit your tongue, they start popping. What a fun surprise for “kids of all ages!”

Firecracker Sandwiches

Make your favorite sandwich spread—tuna, ham, or egg salad. Place a slice of bread on a work surface and roll it flat with a rolling pin. Spread the sandwich mixture on the slice and start rolling up the bread—jellyroll fashion. Wrap each rolled sandwich in colored plastic wrap (red or blue would be nice) twisting ends with twist ties or tying with colorful ribbons to resemble firecrackers. Make a bunch and place them in a basket to serve at a July Fourth picnic. Your kids will love this new presentation of an old time lunch!

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