Thursday, July 2, 2015

Four Ways to Make July 4 Meaningful for Kids

Read About It
Head to the library or local bookstore and pick up a children’s book about July 4. According to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, reading to kids of all ages is proven to be beneficial to their language development (this includes young children).

Activity idea: Read a book about the holiday before and after the celebration.
"Whenever you link a book to what’s happening in your community and culture, it brings the event to life," said Marisa Conner, coordinator of Youth Services for Baltimore County Public Libraries in Maryland. "If you are going to a 4th of July parade, then read a book about parades before and after you go. Reading about the event makes it more real for them."
Throw a Birthday Party for America
Although your child may be too young to understand the concept of Independence Day and the history behind it, he or she probably understands what a birthday is and what it means to be born. 

Activity idea: Have a party complete with red, white and blue cake, music and games. Many online music hubs like Spotify and Pandora offer "patriotic playlists" for events like this.

Get Creative
You can make sparkly hats or headbands to wear, let your kids use their imaginations. Think about arts and crafts as a way to exercise children's motor skills, visual learning and decision making. 
"Parents need to be aware that children learn a lot more from graphic sources now than in the past,” says Dr. Kerry Freedman, Head of Art and Design Education at Northern Illinois University. “Children need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize, and use visual information, and how to make choices based on it.”
Activity idea: Have a flag hunt. Help kids make their own American flags with construction paper, paint, glitter, etc. and then hide the flags for an outdoor hunt. 

Make it a Learning Experience
Consider teaching your kids about who signed the Declaration of Independence, why it's important and some important facts about the signers. Kids can learn about important past events and personalities and relate them to their own experiences.
"It's the knowledge of a subject like history that gives you the wisdom you need to put your own life in a broader context, and know what you might be capable of in the future, by knowing what people have done in the past," said Lynne Munson, the Executive Director of Common Core. "Without a knowledge of history, your world is very small."
Activity idea: Browse for coloring pages, interactive games and more. One cool resource to help children understand colonial life in America is The site has a variety of interactive maps, stories and games.  

For a more detailed list, check out Camp PBS Parents.

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