Teaching Kids the True Meaning of July 4th

Lauren Tamm

With all the fireworks, picnics, fun and games, Independence Day is a special time of year for all Americans, especially military families. Celebrating is incredibly fun, but it’s also important to reflect on the true meaning of July 4th and help our kids learn what Independence Day is really all about.

Here are a few important, yet really fun ways, to teach kids the true meaning of July 4th:

Ask your kids what they know.

You may be surprised how much your kids already know about Independence Day. Maybe they already learned about the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War in school. Or maybe they learned about the meaning behind the stars and stripes on the American flag. Ask your kids what they know and help them fill in the blanks from there.

This is also a great time to brush up on your own history before asking the questions. You could do this in a variety of ways, but my personal favorite is watching a mini-series or documentary, since it often involves a more entertaining review of our nation’s youngest years.

Interesting Independence Day facts:
  • Interestingly, and perhaps eerily, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence to later to serve as US presidents, both died on July 4, 1826, which was also the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Strange coincidence?
  • The legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain actually occurred on July 2, 1776, declaring the United States independent from Great Britain.
  • The much publicized Declaration of Independence is dated July 4, 1776, which is why American’s celebrate July 4th rather than July 2nd.
Teach your kids about the flag.

This time of year, American flags are everywhere, making them very easy to spot. Point one out to your kids to help start the conversation. Explain how each part of our flag represents something important. The stars stand for 50 states and the 13 stripes stand for the original 13 British colonies, which became independent on July 4, 1776.

Remind kids that the flag stands for both freedom and independence. You can also teach kids how to properly fly and fold the flag.

Learn and sing patriotic songs.

Teach your kids the words to a few songs that represent our country well and sing them together. Help your kids learn how to sing the words of our national anthem and other patriotic songs. Here are 4 important songs every American should know and enjoy:
  • The Star-Spangled Banner
  • America the Beautiful
  • God Bless America
  • This Land is Your Land
You can also talk about the Pledge of Allegiance. If your kids are school-aged, they may already know the words well, but like many kids, they might not understand the meaning behind each sentence.

Help kids understand that the Pledge is a promise to remain loyal to the flag, which is a symbol of America. This is known as allegiance. In America we can decide who our leaders will be, making our country a republic. We also stick together and support each other, making us indivisible. And lastly, America supports the freedom and fair treatment of others, highlighting liberty and justice.

Take a trip to a historical landmark.

If you live near a historical landmark, this is a great opportunity to teach kids about Independence Day. Explaining the meaning behind a landmark, help kids understand the opportunities we are offered because of the brave sacrifices others made before us.

Enjoy an educational scavenger hunt.

A scavenger hunt is a great way to keep things fun and light hearted, while still learning about our nation’s independence.
  1. Download and print the Scavenger Hunt and Clue Cards.
  2. Cut the clue cards along the dotted lines and hide around the house or outside (For added fun: write a hint on the back of each clue cards as to the location of another clue card.)
  3. Using the scavenger hunt sheet, have the kids find the clues and match the answers to each question.
  4. The first one to answer all the questions correctly wins!

The 4th of July is the perfect opportunity to creatively teach kids the true meaning behind our nation’s independence. Take your fireworks, picnics, BBQs, and other celebrations up a notch this year and include a great educational lesson during your festivities!


Lauren Tamm is a mother, military spouse, freelance writer and coffee lover. When she isn't busy chasing a toddler around the house, she loves to blog about  practical parenting, enjoying motherhood and navigating military life.

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