Fourth of July celebrations may just be the highlight of your social calendar. With fireworks, parties, and family get-to-togethers, what’s not to love about this national holiday?
Each year, the Fourth of July is celebrated across the United States to mark the anniversary of America’s independence and freedom from British rule.
How should you explain the importance and history of this monumental day to your kids?
On one hand, you want to keep your Fourth of July history lesson simple (and kid-friendly!). But, on the other, you want your little one to really understand why Independence Day is more than just a party.
And breaking down something as complex as American independence isn’t easy. That’s why we’ve put together a complete worksheet bundle that’s filled with fun activities, entertaining facts, and round-up quizzes. Use one or two of these a day, and you’ll bring your kids right up to speed with their Fourth of July history before the special day rolls round.
You can download our independence day worksheets here, but, first, let’s go ahead and dive into what they cover, and explore some key Fourth of July facts every child should know.
The History of The Fourth of July
Of course, there’s a lot of history to cover when it comes to American independence — far more than we have time in this blog post! But when it comes to teaching your kids the fundamentals, here’s what matters most:
In 1776, during the Revolutionary War (which you can teach your kids about with this worksheet, here), the Continental Congress, made up of American delegates, met in Philadelphia. Here, they started the process of freeing America from British rule.
This meeting led to the creation of a new committee which included the Founding Fathers. On July 2nd, 1776, these American leaders persuaded Congress to vote in favor of American Independence. Just two days later, on July 4th, the Declaration of Independence was made official, which we’ve celebrated ever since.
What was the Declaration of Independence?
Now, this is a question your kids are bound to ask. Thankfully, it’s relatively simple… all things considered.
It was originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson and was signed by each of the founding fathers, along with other key delegates. There are a few surprising facts about when this was actually signed, which we’ll touch on later.
With the help of France and Spain, the declaration led to the defeat of Britain in the American Revolutionary war. Once this war was won, the free and independent United States of America as we know it today, was formed.
How was the Fourth of July historically celebrated?
To help explain to your kids why Independence Day is celebrated how it is today, it’s a good idea to look back and explore what they did in the past.
(Here’s a quick hint… not a lot has changed!)
In the summer of 1776, Fourth of July was celebrated with bonfires, parades, music concerts, and the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
But it wasn’t until 1870 that Independence Day became a federal holiday, and it took a further seventy years before it became the paid holiday it is today.
Since independence was signed, the Fourth of July has been a day of unity, patriotism, celebration, and family.
It’s one of the most important dates in American history, which is why it’s so necessary that kids know their stuff.
8 things you almost certainly never knew about Independence Day
Once you and your kids have worked through our Independence Day worksheets, it’s time for some fun. And since you’re not really an expert on a topic until you know some trivia — here’s 8 little known facts about the Fourth of July to entertain the family.
1. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4th
Contrary to popular belief, the famous Declaration of Independence was never actually signed on the fourth of July. Instead, this date is when the document was formally adopted by Congress — but it wasn’t signed by the full, 56 members until a good few weeks later.
2. On July 4th, 1778, George Washington issued twice the usual rations of rum
In celebration of Independence Day in 1778, George Washington gave his troops a double ration of rum and ordered a cannon salute to mark the occasion!
3. Massachusetts was the first state to recognize the holiday
Massachusetts recognized the Fourth of July as an official holiday on July 3rd, 1781… almost one hundred years before all other states.
4. New England’s rather unusual Independence Day tradition
Thanks to the state’s summer supply of salmon many years ago, it became a local tradition to eat the fish every Fourth of July — one that’s stuck around ever since.
5. The shortest Fourth of July Parade is in Aptos, California
At just over half a mile long, Aptos’ Independence Day parade is the shortest in all of America (but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun!).
6. There are around 15,000 firework displays every Fourth of July
Yes, really! And with states spending anywhere between $10,000 to millions of dollars on these night sky spectaculars, it’s no wonder that fireworks have become so synonymous with America’s most patriotic holiday.
7. Americans eat over 150 million hot dogs every Independence Day
That’s the equivalent to around 10,000 miles of stretched out hot dogs. And no, we’re not kidding.
8. Three presidents have died and one was born on the Fourth of July
Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4th 1826 (exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence), while James Monroe died just a few years later on July 4th, 1831. And America’s 30th President, Calvin Coolidge, was born on the same date in 1872.
Pretty uncanny, don’t you think?
And on that note… Happy Fourth of July!
We hope you have a great Fourth of July, and that your kids can join in on all the fun, too — just make sure they’re up to speed with their American history before it’s time to party! If you’re feeling stuck with how to tackle such a large topic, why not download our FREE Revolutionary War curriculum pack to steer you in the right direction?
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