1) Read the Declaration
Reading the Declaration of Independence at least once a year is your civic duty as a citizen of the United States of America. Judging from the current political situation, it looks like the Declaration hasn’t been taught in public schools in decades. If you don’t want your kids to grow up ignorant of self-government and natural rights, you have to teach them the Declaration. Take turns reading a portion and explain to them what their responsibilities are when a government becomes a threat to natural rights.
Purchasing explosives should be done on a micro and macro level. My family is traveling out West right now, so we’re picking up every Roman candle, bottle rocket, and firecracker we can in states where they are legal while also making plans to sit out under the stars in a mountain town for the biggest and loudest fireworks show you can imagine. Back home in Washington, D.C., we like to hang out on the roof of a friend’s house and watch the big show on the National Mall and the technically-illegal-but-totally-allowed miniature displays done in neighborhoods throughout the city.
3) Red, White, and Blue Desserts
Apparently all my friends do red, white, and blue desserts. One had her kids put a slice of banana, a blueberry, and a strawberry on a skewer. Another does strawberry, blueberry, and apple pies. “Bonus points for doing a stars and stripes motif on the top pie crust,” she says. And “extra bonus points for separating strawberry and blueberry with foil so you can get both in one pie.”
If that’s too adventurous, maybe just make a birthday cake for the country.
4) Dress ‘Em Up in Patriotic Gear
My children have a growing collection of patriotic gear that they like to wear all the time. My dad gave my kids t-shirts (that they sleep in) with a large eagle flying through the air in front of a flag. It’s both obnoxious and awesome.
But my favorite is from Wee The People, a shop with super-soft, high-quality t-shirts that teach kids about the awesomeness of America. (You can see the Old Glory t-shirt above.) There are designs for the great ‘Abe’ Lincoln, ‘Tom’ Jefferson, and a host of other patriots and patriotic themes.
5) Go to a Minor League Baseball Game
No matter where you are, you’re probably near a baseball team. It’s the national pastime for a reason. Major League Baseball might be too expensive, but minor league parks allow your kids to get closer to the action for a fraction of the price. And there’s tons of rah-rah-America stuff going on throughout the game.
6) Hit the Nearest Parade
I used to live on Capitol Hill, where the local band that led our Independence Day parade was the President’s Own United States Marine Band. It was the highlight of the day, followed by restraining my husband from shouting violent anti-British slurs at the neighbors who drove their Mini Coopers with Union Jacks(!?) in the parade.
This year the family will be revisiting the Georgetown, Colorado, Independence Day parade, which features old cars, real mountain men with mules, and the women of the local — but thankfully historic — brothel. What’s not to love?
7) Patriotic Pop Concerts
My friend Joy says, “They are often free and given by military bands, and the live music with a serious kit of instruments is always a real treat for the kids. You know that live music actually improves your hearing, right? The vibrations are different in person than they are from recordings.” I think Joy didn’t hear Dinosaur Jr. live.
8) Make Your Own Flag
This is particularly good if you’re stuck around the house for a few hours, or the weather is bad. Haul out the construction paper and glue or plain paper and markers and have them channel their inner Betsy Ross.
Or you could do what my children have spent the last month doing — assembling roughly five patriotic beaded necklaces per day.
9) Liberty’s Kids
The old PBS animated historical fiction TV series is still available. Have your kids learn about Paul Revere as voiced by Sly Stallone, Dustin Hoffman’s Benedict Arnold, and Annette Bening’s Abigail Adams.
10) Patriotic Skits
One of my friends says that she and her sisters put on patriotic skits, Paul Revere’s ride, Revolutionary soldiers dying in the snow, women sewing flags, etc. Or they recite patriotic poems in costume. This is good for at least 20 minutes of distraction.
11) Hike, Bike
Whether they’re whining or leaping up a trail, kids need to get out and explore nature. Hit the local spot and get going.
12) Eat Like George Washington
You could also try George Washington’s straight rye whiskey but maybe not with the kids.
13) Patriotic Songs Playlist
Kids + water is almost always a good combo.
15) Sing Patriotic Songs
One of my colleagues and her kids sing patriotic songs, including all 16 verses of “Yankee Doodle.”