How to Celebrate the 4th

We started celebrating the United States independence back in November. Well, we started learning about our independence back then, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the fact than by understanding what it is and what it means. I like parades and BBQs and fireworks and all of those fun things. But it’s all just playing and partying and not so much celebrating if you don’t know the why of it all. There is a great level of reverence and respect that should accompany this sacred holiday, at least in my opinion, that parades and BBQs and fireworks don’t necessarily or automatically invoke.

The knowledge and understanding of our country’s founding and constitution are some of the most important things I feel my children need to understand. The principles upon which our country was founded are essential to success, happiness, and prosperity. They are also necessary in developing goodness, mercy, work ethic, fairness, equality, and an overall good and strong character.  I’m not talking about what people today think and believe about the founders and the constitution. I’m talking about who the founders actually were, what their mission actually was, their integrity, their fairness, their love of ALL men, their devotion to God and their countrymen.

There is so much out there about how they were supposedly racist and godless and adulterers and [insert your favorite vice here.] But actually primary documents and records and their own words prove without a doubt otherwise.  (One of my bigger beefs with this topic is the 2/3 vote for the slave which people use to argue the founders felt slaves weren’t equal as human beings – which is such a wide spread belief, but is incorrect. I won’t go into the history lesson here, but if you want to know, you can ask.)

Anyway, enough preaching.

Last November through December we started our study of the American Revolutionary War. This was my absolute favorite thing we did in history last year. I basically followed the outline on this website here. Some of the links didn’t work anymore so I didn’t worry too much about it. I did a lot of customizing as well, which is kind of how homeschool works. Pick a curriculum or plan or project and then customize to fit your family.

We took about 9 weeks or so and we covered the following info

  1. The colonies
  2. Patrick Henry
  3. Paul Revere
  4. Boston Massacre
  5. Sam, John, and Abigail Adams
  6. Taxes – and the Acts from the king
  7. Loyalists, Patriots, and Neutrals
  8. Boston Tea Party
  9. 1st Continental Congress
  10. Minute Men
  11. Thomas Paine
  12. Thomas Jeffereson
  13. George Washington and Mount Vernon
  14. Lexington and Concord
  15. Bunker Hill
  16. Benjamin Franklin
  17. Declaration of Independence
  18. Monticello
  19. Liberty Bell
  20. Battle of Saratoga
  21. Valley Forge
  22. Crossing the Deleware
  23. Yankee Doodle
  24. Treaty of Paris
  25. Constitution – 3 ring government and preamble
  26. 1st President

This isn’t even all of the things my kids learned and it isn’t even all of the topics important to the study of this subject! So that looks totally overwhelming doesn’t it? This is why I found that awesome website and just customized from there. With the website, books from the library, the movies Liberty Kids, and a bunch of School House Rocks videos, we did a pretty good job! In addition to a basic following of the outline online we made some posters with our favorite revolutionary slogans.


We created patriot profile books. My daughter chose Abigail Adams and my older son chose John Paul Jones and Paul Revere. DSC04518

And we made some incredible lap books. I got the print outs from this link. (See, I really don’t believe in reinventing the wheel, just modifying it sometimes! Otherwise homeschool is way too hard – for me, at least. I don’t have enough brain cells to create all my own lap book templates.)

We also read “Johnny Tremain” by Esther Forbes together and then watched the Disney movie, which is good, but obviously not nearly as good as the book.

One of my favorite things about this unit study is that my children really, really, really took off with it. My oldest son started checking out all the Paul Revere and John Paul Jones books he could find. I am always happy when they take the initiative and dig deeper on their own. (So I’m just going to say that counts as Passion-Driven Education.)

And then, six months later, came the 4th of July. We did the red, white, and blue pancakes, bacon and eggs breakfast, and we had burgers for dinner (although we have an old school BBQ and I didn’t want to bother with the coals). But we also revisited School House Rocks to get us in the mood.


Here are two of our favorite music videos from this VHS – obviously available digitally for those who have moved past good ol’ VHS cassettes 🙂

And then in the afternoon we headed to the Colonial Heritage Festival in Orem, Utah. This was going to be the greatest educational and entertaining event EVER! I was so sure we were going to just be transported back to colonial times and relive everything we had learned. We were going to mingle with the founders and patriots and experience for ourselves this great and tumultuous but world changing time in history.

Well, I’ll just say, there is something to be said about moderating one’s expectations. The first hour kind of went like this.


But then it got better. Much, much better actually.

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And because this blog post just isn’t quite long enough, here are a couple more videos from the day. First we have the British shooting off their cannon and second is the children’s militia parading through the town after they had run out the British. Huzzah!!


And of course we ended out the day with burgers, chips, watching fireworks from our back deck (courtesy of all our neighbors and the people who live behind us – thanks guys!) and root beer floats.

Because ice cream just doesn’t get more American than that.