Make Your Own Flag Craft

learn about the american flagWe did this flag craft on Flag Day but I wanted to share it for Fourth of July. Even though Flag Day is the American Flag’s birthday the day most people wave it is the Fourth of July. The greatest lesson I want to teach my son about the flag is that it means something and that it’s not just a fun design that looks pretty.  This simple activity and book together did just that. Now when he waves this flag in between scrambling for candy at our hometown parade he will hopefully see much more than he did before.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white paper, a sheet of construction paper, scissors, glue or double stick tape, markers and a pencil. Make your own flag for 4th of july
  2. Start by talking about flags. You can read the book below first or just grab a flag and talk about it and basic symbolism.
  3. Have your child decide if they will make a flag for themselves, your family or a made up world like my son did.
  4. Start drawing in pencil. Now that my son is a little older I am trying to get him started thinking about rough drafts and final drafts. make your own flag for independence day
  5. Add color. make your own flag activity
  6. Cut out. make your own flag to learn about the stars and stripes
  7. Draw a flag pole on the construction paper and glue or tape the flag on. make your own flag lesson for kids
  8. Time to write. make your own flag kindergarten activityMy son and I shared this duty. If your child is not writing yet have them dictate their explanation of the flag. mae your own flag and learn about the american flag
  9. Glue or tape the explanation down. Have your child present their flag if possible at the dinner table to the rest of the family. I think little presentations help build confidence for public speaking in safe space. Proudly display after presenting.

Book

red white and blue

Red, White, and Blue (Penguin Young Readers, L3) by John Herman is a great non fiction read about the American flag. Non fiction books are becoming more important for all ages as the Common Core State Standards focus much more heavily on non fiction works than most previous curriculum standards. I love history and I have passed that down to my son who read this entire book to me at bedtime Saturday night. It’s filled with facts but it also has great colorful pictures that support the text which is so important for children still getting comfortable with reading aloud.  This book is long and I would suggest it for kids 5 and older although younger kids may enjoy it in pieces. The author did a great job presenting the important takeaways without losing the reader’s interest . I was particularly impressed with the author’s note about the lack of real evidence that Betsy Ross actually sewed the first flag. As someone who studied history I appreciate the accuracy while still acknowledging the familiar story and it’s uncertainty. All in all a great historical resource for kids.

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Patriotic Picture Books For 4th of July

4th of july booksThe 4th of July will be here in a blink of an eye and before you start making those red ,white .and blue desserts check out some of these great patriotic books for kids. Use fun events and holidays like the 4th of July to teach kids more about their country and it’s history. Don’t worry if you don’t get a chance to find these books before the 4th because kids love to relate events in their lives to books and reading them after will be great for that.  Do you have favorite patriotic picture books for 4th of July that we skipped? Please add it’s title and why you love it in the comments so this list can keep growing .

America The Beautiful Chris Gall

America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates and illustrated by Chris Gall is a stunning book. The text will be familiar to you as it’s the original poem that most of us know as the song America The Beautiful. The illustrator is a descendent of the writer and pays homage to his family legacy with this beautiful book. Each page illustrates the lyrics perfectly while showcasing different parts of the country, it’s history and simple nostalgia. My son liked it, and particularly loved the page with 9-11 firefighters raising the flag , which brought tears to my eyes.  At the end of the book there are short blurbs about each illustration for further information as well.

 

George Washington’s Teeth by Deborah Chandra and Madeline Comora is a funny telling of how George Washington got those famous false teeth. What I like so much about this book is that it also tells the story of the Revolutionary War. I think the brilliant thing about this book is it shows that George Washington wasn’t the super hero that he is often portrayed as. This makes him , his story and American history in general way more accessible to young kids. I can’t ignore the really fantastic tertiary lesson about dental hygiene as well.

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin is probably the first book most teachers will mention when you ask for a picture book about elections. It’s a great book about a duck who overthrows his farmer and ends up moving up in politics until he is elected President. With each step on the political ladder Duck realizes that he doesn’t like the job and wants something better only to discover that with each move up the workload increases too. I love that that teaches readers that being a leader isn’t about being the bossy one but rather having the most responsibility . My son got that immediately and it opened a good dialog about what he thought being President really is like.I also love the book because there is a good dose of humor that only the adults will appreciate.

Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio is fantastic. The very best part of this book is on the first page when the main character a little girl named Grace exclaims ” Where are the girls?” in response to her teacher hanging up a poster of all the presidents. If I wasn’t in a tent in the backyard while reading this with my son I would have stood up and given Grace a standing ovation. I can’t wait to read this to my daughter in a few years. I love how shocked the character is and I was really happy that my son was surprised that there have been no female presidents as well. Grace decides to run for president in the mock election for her grade at school and be the change. My love for this book doesn’t end with the wonderful example of basic feminism because next up the author tackles something oh so tricky; The Electoral College. The author does a great job explaining what can be a very confusing system used for American presidential elections and I bet more than a few parents reading this to their kids will get something out of it too. The story of Grace and her own campaign is sweet as well but the brilliance of this story are the complex lessons broken down so well for a young audience.

ABC USA

ABC USA by Martin Jarrie is another beautiful alphabet book!  Like most alphabet books it devotes a page to each letter with vibrant illustrations . Not everything in this book is by any means unique to the United States but most are. I specifically appreciated the I for Immigrants page, both from a historical and personal perspective. There are a lot of learning opportunities presented as well for kids of all ages like U for Underground Railroad  and V for Valley Forge so don’t dismiss this as a book only for young kids learning their ABCs.

Celebrate the 50 States

Celebrate the 50 States! by Loreen Leedy is not a story book about the 50 states but really an illustrated short form non fiction book about each and every state.  Each page features two states with a  few historical facts, a basic map of the state and fun facts even parents probably don’t know! I love books like this and wasn’t surprised when my husband picked it up , leafed through it and said ” Hey this is a pretty cool book.”  It is. It is far too detailed to hold a young preschooler’s attention but it a great reference book even for kids as young as 3, just don’t try to read the whole thing in one sitting . Older kids will like the trivia question posed for each state and checking their answers at the back of the book.

wow_america

Wow! America! by Robert Neubecker was an instant hit with my son. Every time I read it I found something new and interesting . Readers follow along as a baby and his older sister who is running after him travel all around the country seeing wonderful things that make us all go “Wow!” Each page has a short title like “Wow Statue” for The Statue of Liberty , then a little more text to explain what the reader is looking at. The illustrations are detailed and we’ve played eye spy with this book more than a few times. This is a wonderful book and the map on the inside cover has been fun to play with as well, we like to find where various far off friends and family live. Go check this book out for sure.

America My land, Your land, our land

America: My Land, Your Land, Our Land by W.Nikola-Lisa is a really interesting concept for a book. The book showcases how The United States is made up of drastic opposites. Each page is devoted to two opposing features such as bright and dark, yours and mine, old and young. Then the illustrations reflect these opposites. What makes it so interesting is that there isn’t one illustrator , their are 14!  Each showcasing their view of one of these opposites.  My son enjoyed this book because he is all about separating and classifying things right now and the text was short and illustrations beautiful. Parents will probably enjoy it on a different level because many of the illustrations hold deeper meanings if you have some more mature knowledge about historical facts.

 

 

 

What Presidents Are Made Of by Hanoch Piven is a simple book that brings together a collection of presidential anecdotes that will probably make you laugh more than your kids but trust me they’ll still enjoy it. It humanizes iconic figures we know and makes readers curious to learn even more about these great men. The collage style illustrations are beautiful and quite funny as well.

usa

How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A by Marjorie Priceman didn’t disappoint one bit. I was worried after falling in love with How To Bake An Apple Pie and See The World  that this couldn’t live up to my expectations. It did! This time she wasn’t looking for ingredients for the pie, but rather materials for her tools. She gathered wood in Washington for her rolling pin, cotton in Louisiana for pot holders granite in New Hampshire for her pastry slab and more. What I wasn’t expecting of this book and loved was how she gathered natural resources and then processed them to make what she needed. I think this is a wonderful lesson about manufacturing and could be used for a launchpad for learning about so much more. Another gem I will be adding to my must buy list.

books about the usa

The National Anthem (True Books, American Symbols) by Patrica Ryin Quiri is a great book for school age children ( 5-10) to learn about how the American flag and anthem came about. I learned a lot from this book and I have a minor in American History! It talks about the evolution from a poem to an anthem, with easy text, great photos and illustrations. I particularly liked seeing the author’s original handwritten poem. It creates a more personal connection to the song for readers and makes it even more special.

Presidents’ Day by Anne Rockwell is a perfect introduction to presidents, some of their major accomplishments and some major points in American history. The story follows a class putting on a play and we learn about some of the most significant presidents as the children do. Even if President’s Day is months away you can use this book while learning about money , linking the various presidents on coins and bills, or for Independence day too! Very cute and age appropriate for older preschoolers.

A is for america

A is for America by Devin Scillian is a perfect mix of national pride and real facts. As a Canadian I always feel strange critiquing works like this, I don’t want to sound too critical and that won’t be the case with this wonderful book. There are plenty of fantastic reasons to celebrate America and this book lays them on the table from A to Z !

Madam President by Lane Smith is a sweet story about a little girl who equates her life and daily routine with that of the President. My favorite part of the book was when it’s explained that a president must choose a cabinet and her’s is comprised of some real positions like Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense and some not like Secretary of Fantasy and Secretary of Pizza. While reading it with my son I had him guess real or not. The book also introduced my 5 year old to the word veto which was fun for about 2 minutes. He’s since learned in our family I am the one with veto power. I really like this book because it breaks down what the President does into the daily life of a child and the best way to get kids interested in something is to make them relate to it.

Mr. President Goes to School by Rick Walton is such a cute book that we really enjoyed. The book is not so much about school as it is about how complicated adult problems can get and you can imagine how big they get for the President of The United States. First of all I have to say I loved that when we started reading it my son said ” The President should be African American .” I love that my son has no idea that there was a time when people didn’t think that could or should happen. Ok proud moment aside the story follows Mr. President as he escapes his duties trying to make peace between to Eastern European leaders and heads back to his old kindergarten class to remember what it’s all about. Of course he ends up going back and using all the things he learned in kindergarten to make peace between the two leaders , I mean who can start a war with someone they’ve done the hokey pokey with? I like the message and the book can be a great tool to show kids how lucky they are they get to go to kindergarten , even the President wishes he could go back!

how to bake an american pie

How to Bake an American Pie by Karma Wilson is sentimental, sweet and probably should be reviewed by an American. The reason I say that is that it’s written to pull at your heart strings, make you feel pride in your country and I am sure it succeeds when the reader is American. But the same way I wouldn’t expect an American to get choked up singing “O Canada” the way I do , I just don’t get the full effect. Strictly as a book this was a little too figurative for my son although he loved the illustrations of the dog and cat baking the pie and kept turning back to the page with rainbows. Older kids will recognize some of the text that is taken from America the Beautiful and will understand the figurative language, although may be put off by the illustrations that seem more geared towards little ones. I would love to hear from any Americans who have read this book to get your take!

apple pie fourth of july

Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong is an awesome book. I am always awed by authors who can tackle complicated “adult” issues in the pages of a children’s book successfully. In this case the issue is 1st generation identity and immigration, at least that’s my take. The little girl in this book is sulking around her parent’s store on the 4th of July. They are busy making Chinese food for customers she is sure won’t come, who would want Chinese food on such an American holiday is her rational. Of course there are layers about her connection to her ancestral culture and her own national pride. As a proud owner of a green card and a Canadian passport I relate to this story, sure the differences are as deep or as obvious to an outsider but unlike the previous book when this book ended with fireworks I got tingles of pride for my adopted country. Fantastic book- and my son liked it too.

hats off for the 4th of july

Hats off for the Fourth of July by Harriet Ziefert is a wonderful book for children who are just starting to understand what this holiday is all about. The book follows a parade with hints of what is next to come along, making the reader feel the same feelings real parade goer does as they stand on their tipy toes to see what is on it’s way. My son really enjoyed the book because it was packed with marching bands, motorcycles and more.

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4th Of July Fireworks Activities For Kids

4th of july craftsDo you let your kids stay up and see the fireworks on the 4th ? We are hoping to this year for the first time but it’s hard when it doesn’t get dark until close to 10pm. Either way we will be making fun and easy fireworks crafts for the 4th of July . Here are four of our family’s favorites .

4th of july crafts

Cupcake Line Fireworks

4th of july sensory activity for kids
Shaving Cream & Paint Fireworks Sensory Play

4th of july craft ideaConfetti Pop Fireworks

handprint fireworks 4th of july
Handprint Fireworks

For even more 4th of July ideas check out my Everything 4th Of July board on Pinterest.

4th of July Craft { Confetti Pop Fireworks }

4th of july craft idea   This firework craft is our 4th of July version of our Love Bomb craft we made last year.  That was such a hit I knew I’d have to do it again but I was waiting for just the right time. Yesterday was that time. It looks messy and daunting but this us actually a super simple 4th of July craft . I can’t help but think of bombs bursting in air when I see these fireworks!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper bags, red, white and blue streamers, and I added some foil too. Scissors, glue and black paper. Oh and a vacuum on hand. confetti pop firework craft for kids
  2. Cut up the streamers and foil into small confetti pieces. confetti fireworks
  3. Fill the bag. confetti 4th of july craft
  4. Add your glue to the black paper in the shape of a firework in the night sky.confetti pop fireworks 4th of july craft
  5. Fill your bag with air. PLEASE adults only for this step . If your child sucks in the air from the bag before blowing ( which is pretty natural to do)  they could suck up some of the confetti. So it’s best left for the adults.  Besides the kids don’t care about blowing it up they just want to pop it.
  6. Place the paper with glue on the floor and pop it! confetti popping fireworks 4th of july
  7. Scoop the extra confetti up and plop it on the glue. Boom Fireworks 4th of july craftAfter seeing her brother do it my ready to swim wee one decided it did look cool and joined in.fireworks craft  4th of july I popped the bag for her but she shook the contents all over her glue. fireworks craft for kids
  8. Let dry! 4th of july craft

I know I sound like a nervous nelly but I really try to make sure that I treat your kids the way I treat my kids if not a little more cautiously. This is not a dangerous activity and my 6 year old thinks it’s beyond super cool but I do want to make sure that everyone is safe.

Books About The USA

 books about the usa

Click the image to read the book reviews!

Simple Patriotic Sensory Activity

4th of july sensory activity for kids I had grand plans for dying rice, finding star shaped containers and some flags for a 4th of July sensory bin but life got in the way and I ran out of time. So yesterday when my daughter and I had some time alone and quiet ( after weeks of family and running around) I used it to make this simple sensory activity.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a tray or pan some shaving cream, paint ( finger paint works great!) , glitter and some tools for mixing like paint brushes , spoons and spatulas.  4th of july sensory activity for kids
  2. Spray the shaving cream in.
  3. Add the paint.shaving cream fireworks I started just by squeezing it on, then used a brush to make it look like fireworks . My daughter couldn’t care less she is 2 and has only ever seen them once . The goal for her is to mix and explore.
  4. Add glitter! For you who aren’t keen on glitter you will like this , the glitter doesn’t spread all over. Ready for the kiddo- who was napping. Luckily the cream stays fluffy.
  5. Time to explore. She immediately went for the tools I had laid out for her.
  6. Asked for a napkin when she got some on her fingers.
  7. Mixed and mixed.

While she was exploring I narrated some, asked her what she saw, what she liked… but didn’t direct . Let them explore until they start throwing it on the floor or push away from the table. The great thing about this is that it really does last longer than you’d think. Hours later when my son got home from the beach with his dad he gave it a few mixes too.