Flags are flying, fireworks stands are everywhere, and red, white, and blue desserts are all the rage. But amid all the fanfare, are we helping our children understand the meaning behind the patriotic decorations?
Make time this week to explore the big idea of patriotism as a family. We're making it easier for you, with our carefully-selected book, craft, and act of kindness designed to celebrate the men and women who devote their lives to protecting America ideals.
Pick up a copy of The Impossible Patriotism Project by Linda Skeers. This sweet story features Caleb, a boy stumped by an impossible assignment: make something showing patriotism. The big, bold ideas of his classmates only make Caleb feel worse.
How can he show them that patriotism is more than maps and statues?
His final project is stunning in its simplicity and its power. And it will undoubtedly inspire you to celebrate soldiers and military families as you plan your own Independence Day celebrations.
Once you've read your book, here are a few conversation starters to get kids thinking:
Why is Caleb so reluctant to do his project? Why does it feel impossible?
What do you think patriotism means?
How did Caleb’s classmates tackle their assignment? How would you ‘make something showing patriotism’ if you were in Caleb’s class?
How did you react when Caleb revealed his final project? Was that what you expected?
How does this class activity, revealed on parents’ night, make Caleb feel?
Have you ever been separated from a loved one for a long time, like Caleb’s? How did you make distance from your parent or loved one easier? What did you do when you were frustrated? If you’ve never had that experience, discuss what Caleb’s story teaches you about how that might feel.
Do you know any families of Active Duty Service Members? If so, can you think of anything you can do to thank and support them personally?
Who are your personal heroes?
Support military families and their soldiers with crafty thank you gifts. Create the projects below. Or feel free to use materials you have on hand and your own creativity to celebrate the patriotism of these families.
While you are crafting, use the following questions to start big-hearted conversations about patriotism.
- What would it feel like to be away from your family and friends for months at a time?
- What would you do to stay positive and connected if you lived far away from your family?
- What would it feel like to be home, but missing a close family member for months at a time?
- How would it feel to receive a happy letter from a nice and caring stranger?
- What are other ways you can show support to those who are serving our country?
- Do you think it's possible to be patriotic and want to make improvements to your country at the same time? Why or why not.
- Let's list some reasons we are proud of our country.
- Let's list some things we want to make better in our country.
Popsicle Stick Flag Decorations
Red, white, and blue paint
Popsicles sticks (10)
3 ¾ inch square of cardboard cut from a cracker or cereal box
4 inch piece of yarn or ribbon (also red, white, or blue)
Paint 5 popsicle sticks white and 5 red. Let them dry.
Glue a loop of ribbon/yarn to one side of the cardboard, creating a hook to hang your decoration.
Glue the sticks in a pattern (red, white, red, white) to the same side of the cardboard square. The sticks should cover the ribbon/yarn, making your hanger more secure.
Paint a blue square in the upper left corner. Dot with white stars using the point end of your paint brush.
Once dry, you can hang your decorations as a patriotic reminder at home, or send them with your cards below as thank you gifts for soldiers.
Scattered Star Thank You Cards
Red, white, and blue paint
Star-shaped cookie cutters
Red, white, and blue paper
Lined notebook paper
Glue, scissors, and markers
Use the cookie cutters as stamps, dipping them in red and blue paint and pressing them firmly to white paper.
Glue the white paper to a piece of red or blue construction paper.
Once dry, fold the card in half.
Glue a piece of lined paper to the inside of the card. Allow your card to dry completely before writing your letters.
An Act of Kindness
Once your crafts are dry, it's time to write thank you letters to service members.
Does your family want to take patriotic kindness even further?
Visit Blue Star Families’ Operation Appreciation to discover volunteer opportunities or gather donations to support the families of service members. Caleb’s experience in The Impossible Patriotism Project is shared by around 220,000 children around the country who share the burden of deployment (a big word meaning a soldier is living, working, and potentially fighting far from home).
Have fun adding these simple acts of kindness to your big-hearted 4th of July holiday!
Browse more projects to teach citizenship.
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