Fireworks, block parties, and BBQs. That’s what 4th of July is about, right? Wrong? Those are all fun ways we celebrate the holiday, but it is about so much more. At its heart, 4th of July is about choosing freedom over oppression. Unfortunately, kids can get caught up in the trappings of a holiday and forget about its true meaning. Don’t let 4th of July slip by and just be another day to have fun in the sun. Celebrate this 4th of July with a fun study on freedom.
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Why A Unit Study
If you read my post about the logistics of homeschooling you know that unit studies are kind of my ‘thing’. I love that everything ties together and has one central theme. Adding in fun, hands-on activities helps keep kids excited about learning. Each of my unit studies includes:
- Sctipture to memorize
- A Bible story to focus on
- Songs to sing
- Stories to read
- Fun and hands-on activities
- Educational shows or movies
If you’ve been following me you know what I’m about to say. Scripture memorization is extremely valuable for children and adults alike. It increases vocabulary, working memory, and ease with the features of language. This is even truer for Christians when it comes to memorizing scripture. Since 4th of July is all about freedom it seemed fitting that our verse is focused on our freedom in Christ. Let’s work this week to memorize Romans 8:1-2. Click here to get a free printable for memorizing this passage.
Why do I include Bible stories in each unit study? Unit studies help us see how many different things tie back to a central theme. I want my kids to understand that each thing they encounter in life ties back to the central themes in the Bible.
At it’s core, 4th of July is about freedom. Freedom from tyranny and oppression. Do you know what the greatest example of being freed from oppression is? Christ freeing us from the chains of sin by his death on the cross! As we study Independence Day and the freedoms it brought us, it seems fitting to study the freedoms that the crucifixion gave us. That’s why we will be reading about Christ’s crucifixion. It is the ultimate biblical and historical example of becoming truly free.
Singing songs every day offers a whole host of benefits to the developing brain. Rhyming songs help prepare the brain for the language patterns in reading. Movements with the song activate parts of the brain that ‘awaken’ it and help prepare the brain for learning, as well as strengthen the proprioceptive sense and vestibular system that factor into just about everything we can do. Learning music has even been shown to help with future performance in math. If that’s not enough to convince you, there is also the fact that it’s just plain fun to sing songs and be silly with your kids! I always try to include a mix of nursery rhymes, folk songs, and Bible songs in our weekly mix.
4th of July Songs
London Bridge Is Falling Down is such a fun song. You get to have a great time creating a bridge for kids to walk under, ‘lock them up’ in the jail of your arms, swing them gently back and forth, etc. It’s silly, active, and repetitive (trust me, repetitive is actually really important for little ones). The song builds up so many different areas of the brain. Personally we only do the first two stanzas for the version listed at this link, but do as much or as little as you like.
Yankee Doodle Dandy is perfect for a 4th of July unit since it has roots in the American Revolution. Yes, I know there were versions of the song before the Revolutionary War, but the song is still linked to it. Again, the repetitive and rhyming lyrics in the song will build reading readiness while the fun marching around will develop gross motor skills and also lay the foundation in the brain for reading.
I’m In the Lord’s Army felt fitting for this unit since they both relate to soldiers battling. It’s key that our kids remember WHOSE army they fight for above all others. Plus, like the other songs, this will get your kids up and moving, awakening their brains, and priming them for reading with rhyming lyrics.
I’ve Been Redeemed focuses on our freedom in Christ through his redeeming grace. There is nothing more important to teach our kids, so that in and of itself is a good enough reason to include this song in our study of freedom. The echoing style of this song also does a fabulous job of teaching kids the give and take of conversation.
I like to do story time in two parts. The first part is with picture books and the second part is with a chapter book (typically historical fiction, but sometimes something else). Reading chapter books to kids, even before they can read them, helps to build their background knowledge and vocabulary. Reading picture books (especially those with rhyming and/or rhythmic text) helps to prepare them for reading independently. When combined, these two parts make for a great story time plan. Just remember, don’t try to fit it all in at once. Try reading picture books in the morning and the chapter book during afternoon snack.
For our 4th of July unit I have found a few good books.
Patsy and the Declaration is a fun and adventurous novel. It’s about two little girls during the American Revolution who take it upon themselves to try to root out British spies!
The Story of America’s Birthday is my picture book recommendation for younger kids (preschool and primary grades). It will give the gist of the American Revolution at a level they can better understand.
The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence is also on my list because it will work well for my oldest daughter (and the other kids can just come along for the ride). The Declaration of Independence is a cornerstone document in our nation’s history and as such is vitally important for all Americans to understand! This will give my family a kid-friendly understanding of it.
My goals with our 4th of July activities were to a) keep things fun and b) hit on a variety of areas. I chose only 5 so that it is kept to 1 activity a day (what works best for my family). Remember, we want ot keep this fun and relaxed. You can do as many or as few a day as you would like, though.
Construction Paper Flag
This is really as simple as it sounds. For each child you will need:
- 1 piece of blue construction paper
- 1 piece of white construction paper
- 1 piece of red construction paper
- Star-shaped stickers
Have your child cut or tear strips from the red and white papers. Then the child will glue these ‘stripes’ to the flag. Finally, add the stickers to make an American flag! You can choose to have a picture of a flag available for them to model it after. Another option is to just let them create as their hearts see fit. One key here is NOT to get it all ready for them in advance. Let them do the cutting and tearing. Let them squeeze the glue bottle. Yes, it will take longer and be messier, but it will also build the fine motor strength that is necessary for good handwriting down the road.
I Heart Crafty Things has a fun looking fireworks craft that I can’t wait to do with my kids. The only thing I am going to do different is use colored sand instead of glitter, because I HATE GLITTER!!!! Anyone else hate glitter as much as I do? Whichever you use, remember that it is important to let them squeeze the glue and sprinkle the sand. Yes, it will be messy. No, it will not turn out like the sample pictures (at least not for most kids). That’s ok. Allowing kids to do the work themselves builds their confidence while also building their fine motor strength!
I don’t know about your kids, but mine think all things ‘spy’ and ‘mystery’ are pretty cool. That’s why I was SO excited when I saw this invisible ink activity on Teach123. Y’all, my kids are going to FLIP OUT when I tell them we are going to write up secret messages for each other with invisible ink! The best part is that this involves only basic kitchen staples, so you’ll most likely have everything you need already in your house!
Fireworks In A Jar
Are you looking for a fun and easy science experiment? Then this Fireworks In a Jar activity from I Can Teach My Child is just what you need! Seriously, if you can pour and stir, you can do this. I’m willing to bet that all of you have the necessary components in your pantry right now! You can explain the science behind why it works, or just enjoy the pretty fireworks.
Freedom From Sin
4th of July is all about freedom. We created our nation to get freedom from an oppressive monarchy, but that is only an illusion of true freedom. Our true freedom comes from God’s redeeming grace. That’s why the Bible story for this unit is on Christ’s crucifixoin. This lesson on freedom from childrensministry.com will help children understand the true freedom that comes from being forgiven for our sins.
Raise your hand if you love movies. I bet most of you did, right? Human brains are wired to crave stories, so stories help us learn. Movies fill this need perfectly. Many are a blend of entertainment with education. Let’s face it, they’re FUN! Here are some great videos to watch about the American Revolution.
Liberty Kids is a children’s cartoon series set during the American Revolution. My kids LOVE it! It’s historical fiction, so some of the characters and scenarios are made up. Even so, you get introduced to many of the famous faces and places from The Revolutionary War. Kids have fun. Kids learn while having fun. I call that a win-win!
I’m not going to lie, we watch Schoolhouse Rock for me more than for my kids. It’s fun, cute, nostalgic, and educational. How could I not love it! The catchy songs stick in kids’ (and grown-ups’) heads and slowly work the information into long-term memory. Schoolhouse Rock has a ton of great songs about everything from multiplication to US government, but there are two songs that fit particularly well in this unit.
- No More Kings- This sets the foundation for why the American Revolution happened. If we don’t understand what led to the Revolutionary War, we can’t understand the importance of 4th of July.
- The Shot Heard Round The World- This song is about the infamous battle that ‘kicked off’ the Revolutionary War. It remains a mystery as far as who fired the first shot. Regardless, that first shot was an integral part of history.
Don’t Let 4th of July Pass You By
We tend to think of holidays as the time to take a break from learning. I think that mostly comes from the fear that our kids will be bored and resist, and who wants a holiday spoiled by that? With fun plans like this 4th of July Unit Study, your kids can learn about true freedom without being bored!