I’m re-posting this list of 55 ways to celebrate the 4th of July–or to celebrate the USA any day.
2. Sing or learn about The Battle Hymn of the Republic
3. Some picture books for July 4th:
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Paul Revere’s Ride.Illustrated by Ted Rand. Dutton, 1990.
Dalgliesh, Alice.The 4th of July Story. Alladin, 1995. (reprint edition)
Spier, Peter. The Star-Spangled Banner. Dragonfly Books, 1992.
Bates, Katharine Lee. America the Beautiful. Illustrated by Neil Waldman. Atheneum, 1993.
Devlin, Wende. Cranberry Summer.
St. George, Judith. The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence.
Osornio, Catherine. The Declaration of Independence from A to Z.
More picture books for Independence Day.
5. Stephen Foster was born on July 4, 1826. The PBS series American Experience has an episode on the life of Stephen Foster, author of songs such as Beautiful Dreamer and Oh! Susanna.
6. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same day, July 4, 1826, fifty years after adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
Adams’ last words were: “Thomas Jefferson still survives.”
Jefferson’s last words: “Is it the fourth?”
I highly recommend both David McCullough’s biography of John Adams and the PBS minseries based on McCullough’s book.
7. Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872. He is supposed to have said, “If you don’t say anything, you won’t be called on to repeat it,” and “I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.”
Also, “we do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.”
Amen to that.
More on Calvin Coolidge and the Fourth of July from A Quiet Simple Life.
8. You could make your own fireworks for the Fourth of July. Engineer Husband really used to do this when he was a young adolescent, and I can’t believe his parents let him. He tried to make nitroglycerine once, but he got scared and made his father take it outside and dispose of it! Maybe you should just read about how fireworks are made and then imagine making your own.
9. On July 4, 1970 Casey Kasem hosted “American Top 40” on radio for the first time. I cannot tell a lie; in high school I spent every Sunday afternoon listening to Casey Kasem count down the Top 40 hits of the week. Why not make up your own Top 40 All-American Hits List and play it on the fourth for your family?
10. Via Ivy’s Coloring Page Search Engine, I found this page of free coloring sheets for the 4th of July. We liked the fireworks page.
14. Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen. Subtitled “The Story of the Constitutional Convention May to September 1787,” this book is the one that gave me the story of the US constitution. It’s suitable for older readers, at least middle school age, but it’s historical writing at its best. I loved reading about Luther Martin of Maryland, whom Henry Adams described as “the notorious reprobate genius.” Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts who was”always satisfied to shoot an arrow without caring about the wound he caused.” (Both Gerry and Martin refused to sign the final version of the Constitution.) Of course, there were Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, George Washington, who presided over the convention in which all present knew that they were creating a presidency for him to fill, and Ben Franklin, the old man and elder statesman who had to be carried to the convention in a sedan chair. Ms. Bowen’s book brings all these characters and more to life and gives the details of the deliberations of the constitutional convention in readable and interesting format.
15. Watch a movie.
Getttysburg is a tragedy within the tragedy that was the Civil War, but it’s also patriotic and inspiring.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington has Jimmy Stewart demonstrating what’s wrong and what’s right about American government and politics.
I like 1776, the musical version of the making of the Declaration Of Independence, but it does have some mildly risque moments.
Other patriotic movies. And a few more.
16. Have yourself some BarBQ.
18. Take a virtual tour of Philadelphia’s famous historical sites. Learn more about the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross Home, Valley Forge, Brandywine Battlefield, Independence Hall, and other sites.
22. Listen to The Midnight Ride from Focus on the Family’s series, Adventures in Odyssey, to be broadcast on Wednesday July 4th.
24. Listen to some marches by John Philip Sousa, performed by the U.S. Marine Band. I played several of these, not very well, on my flute when I was in Homer Anderson’s Bobcat Band.
30. July is National Hot Dog Month and National Baked Bean Month.
31. Fourth of July Crafts and Treats: cupcakes, windsocks, stars, hats, and more.
35. Start an all-American read aloud, such as:
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott.
Guns for General Washington by Seymour Reit.
Tolliver’s Secret by Esther Woods Brady.
37. Sing the U.S. national anthem, Oh, Say Can You See?, all the way through. Memorize at least the first verse.
39. We always attend the Fourth of July parade in Friendswood, Texas, except not this year since some of us will be traveling. Anyway, find a parade and take the kids or grandkids or neighbor kids. A Fourth of July parade is a celebration of American patriotism in a capsule.
41. Fourth of July art projects for preschoolers and the young at heart.
42. Read a version of Patrick Henry’s great Give Me Liberty speech.
43. Check out A Book of Americans by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet. It’s a great book of poems about various famous Americans, and I think lots of kids would enjoy hearing it read aloud, maybe a poem a day in July.
45. Spend some time praying for our nation’s leaders: President Barack Obama, your senators, your representatives, the governor of your state, your state representatives, and others.
46. Wear red, white, and blue. Or put red and blue streaks in your hair. When I was in junior high, flag pins and ponchos were in style. I had a flag pin and a red, white, and blue poncho, both of which I wore together. I was stylin’!
47. On July 4, 1845, Henry David Thoreau went to live near Walden Pond. Thoreau and Sherry on Clothing.
48. Any of the following nonfiction books for children would make a good Fourth of July history lesson:
The Story of the Boston Tea Party by R. Conrad Stein
The Story of Lexington and Concord by R. Conrad Stein
The Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence by Dennis Brindell Fradin
The Story of the Declaration of Independence by Norman Richards
The American Revolution (Landmark Books) by Bruce Jr Bliven
The War for Independence: The Story of the American Revolution by Albert Marrin
The Story of Valley Forge by R. Conrad Stein
Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold by Jean Fritz
The Story of the Battle of Yorktown by Anderson
Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen.
The Story of the Constitution by Marilyn Prolman
In Defense of Liberty: The Story of America’s Bill of Rights by Russell Freedman
An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy
George Washington and the Founding of a Nation by Albert Marrin
The Story of Old Glory by Mayer
49. Host a block party or potluck dinner.
51. Read 1776 by David McCullough or the two companion novels, Chains and Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson. All three would make great Fourth of July reads. Semicolon thoughts here.
54. Host a Fourth of July water balloon fight.
55. Give thanks to the Lord of all nations for the United States of America, that He has made this country, sustained it, and blessed it. Pray that we will be a nation of people that honor Him.