When a friend of mine told me he reads the Declaration of Independence every Fourth of July, I thought it was a great way to commemorate the day. I hadn’t read the entire text since high school and I couldn’t fully quote the beginning: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal… something, something, something… life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Memorizing the entire document is a little ambitious but I resolved to become more familiar with the words that laid the foundation of our freedom.
Read the full text of the Declaration of Independencehere.
This may be a knife to the heart of teachers everywhere, but I have to make a confession: Social Studies bored me as a kid, hence the reason for my lacking knowledge of American History. I’m committed to enriching the education of my children so that they understand the historical significance of the Fourth of July and that it’s not just a day of fireworks.
Here are some ideas to celebrate a meaningful, patriotic Fourth of July with your kids:
— Read the Declaration of Independence for kids.
— Follow these easy instructions on how to make parchment paper using white paper, cold coffee or tea, and a blowdryer.
— Join the signers! Add your names to the Declaration of Independence and print it on the parchment paper you made.
— Read a patriotic book, like Dubs Goes to Washington: And Discovers the Greatness of America or The Scrambled States of America.
— The Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Constitution are known as the Charters of Freedom. All are on display at the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C. You can view the exhibit online here.
— If you have teens, watch this video of a teacher presenting the Declaration of Independence as a break-up letter. He tricks his students into thinking he’s reading aloud a note found by the janitor and at the end he tells them it’s from “the American Colonies.” The students thought it was kind of corny but they learned something and their reaction is funny when they realize they were “punked” on video.
— Learn the history of the flag of the United States of America.
— Read about our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.
— It may not be Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, but the Fourth of July is a good day to honor our military who fight to protect our freedom. It can be as simple as wearing a yellow ribbon, changing your Facebook profile picture to the flag, or tweeting your appreciation with the hashtag #HonorTheFallen or #veterans.