For many children who are living in the U.S., July 4th might seem like any other holiday with fireworks, parades, and celebrations. But, this day is significant for us because it is when we celebrate our Nation’s Independence. Explaining this may be difficult to understand, depending on the age of your child. Romper Magazine Online helps parents and caregivers to explain 4th of July to your Kid. Mike Doveton, National Park Ranger at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, provides some great suggestions. Key ideas include:
Start with what’s right and fair. Ask kids to think about what’s fair and not fair in their lives, and then share that the colonists felt that Great Britain were not treating them fairly.
Consider what the term Independence means. For example, Doveton explains that independence doesn’t just mean the freedom to do anything you want, but the freedom of people in a community to decide what is just and right for the community.
Description: Listen to the author of the book, Be A Maker, read and discuss her story. Children use this as inspiration to be a maker at home.
What tools and materials do I need?
Computer & internet connection to listen to read-aloud story
Assorted art and craft supplies (e.g., paper, crayons or markers, scissors, glue, tape)
Miscellaneous recyclable materials (e.g., cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes, bottle caps, old magazines, newspaper)
What should I do?
Listen to the read-aloudof the storybook,Be a Maker, written by Katey Howes and illustrated by Elizabet Vuković. Children will learn that the world is full of possibilities and there are all kinds of things you can make and do to have fun, be creative, and help others. The author does more than just read the story. She engages the listeners with questions and comments about the illustrations. She calls attention to important points that children should notice. For example, there are hints in the story about something happening in the neighborhood that’s creating some noise, but it’s not revealed until near the end. At one point, the author calls the children’s attention to the picture of the girl with her head tipped to the side and explains that she is hearing something and she wants to figure out what it is. At another point in the story, the girl makes a map to explore and figure out where that noise is coming from. The author asks, “Do you see something on the map that marks where she’s headed?” Later, she asks, “Do you have a good guess about what’s making all the noise in the neighborhood?” These questions and comments do an excellent job of engaging children in the story and helping them to use their imagination and observation skills to think more deeply about the story.
Talk about the story. Discuss the story and the many things that the child made throughout the book such as a spaceship, telescope, tower, gift, music, lemonade stand — even a new friend. Sometimes making projects can help others, too. You can help your community and make a difference. In the end, you can feel good about the things you made and be proud of your accomplishments.
Present the children with the following problem which is derived from the book itself:
“In a world of possibilities, today, what will you make?”
Look at the materials you have available.
Imagine what you can do with these things to make something special for yourself or someone else.
Show the children the materials that they can use for this making project. Help them ponder the making projects mentioned in the book and imagine the new possibilities. Pose some questions or comments if the children are struggling with ideas.
How can these materials be changed (e.g., cut, torn, bent, folded, rolled)?
What kinds of things do you enjoy?
Think about something that you might need to solve a problem.
What inspired you about the projects in the book?
Share. The author of the book emphasizes that children should feel proud of what they make and do. Encourage the children to share their work with others and talk about their ideas. Display their projects for others to enjoy, too!
Description: You will be designing and making your own robot out of recycled materials (soda cans, food cans, water bottles, boxes, etc.). The purpose of this activity is to show children what can be recycled, how recycled materials can be used in a new way, and create an interest in recycling.
Ask the child what he/she knows about recycling. Ask questions such as: 1) What does recycling mean to you?, 2) Where have you seen recycling happening?, 3) What kinds of things get recycled?, and 4) How does recycling help our community?
Give the child some recycled materials. Collect some recyclable items and share them with the child. It would be helpful to have at least one box and four cans. A wide assortment is best to promote creativity on this project.
Discuss what kinds of items get recycled. Review what goes into a recycling bin in your community. Ask the child about this phrase: “reduce, reuse, recycle.”
Talk about robots. Explain that robots are machines that people design to do certain jobs or tasks. They are controlled by computers. Discuss robots that the child may have seen on television or in books.
Design a recycled robot. Ask the child to design and build a robot using recycled materials. Explain that this will just be an image of a robot. It will not be connected to a computer and programmed like a real robot.
Ask questions. Ask questions about the child’s robot. For example: 1) What’s the robot’s name?, 2) What would you like your robot to be able to do?, and 3) How can you change your robot to make it even better?
Share the robot. Encourage the child to share the robot with other family members or friends.
Encourage recycling. Show the child more examples of what can be recycled. Consider going around the house to collect more recyclables. Compliment the child’s creative work and remind him/her that recycling can help protect our community by reducing pollution and helping to save energy.
Did you know that we celebrate National Inventors’ Day in the United States on February 11? This day was chosen because it is Thomas Alva Edison’s birthday and he is one of the greatest inventors of all time. Edison received more than 1,000 patents in his lifetime and many of these inventions made incredible contributions to our lives. He is probably best known for having invented the first incandescent light bulb that was able to glow for at least 13 hours! Prior to his invention, scientists were only able to achieve bulbs that burned for a few minutes. You can learn more about Edison through the Library of Congress or the Thomas Edison National Historical Park.
The world is full of inventions and new ones are created every day. Look around your home and you are certain to find a lot of inventions. Some are complex like the refrigerator and computer. But, others are rather simple like VelcroR, buttons, pencils, and Post-ItR notes.
Activity Description: Practice inventing just like Edison. Explore materials around your home. Modify them. Experiment with them. Be curious. Create something new and useful to meet a want or need.
What tools and materials do I need?
Assorted recyclable or throwaway materials and items (laundry container caps, takeout containers, broken toys, dried out markers, old CDs, empty thread or ribbon spools, packaging materials, etc.)
Miscellaneous materials around your home such as string, rubber bands, paper clips, paper bags, disposable cups, etc.
Wrapping paper, construction paper, or cardboard scraps
Glue, masking tape, and/or clear tape
Coloring utensils (e.g., crayons, markers)
What should I do?
Closely observe the materials you have to work with. Think about different ways that these materials can be used or modified to create something new. Can the materials be cut or shaped to change them? Can materials be connected together with glue or tape?
Play around with the materials to see how they might be combined together in different ways. Ponder how these things can be used for something different than their original purpose. For example, can you turn your materials into one of these useful objects?
Game or toy
Cell phone or book stand
Desk or drawer organizer
Explore ideas. There are many websites with ideas for converting throwaway items into useful products. If you can’t come up with ideas yourself, search online for some suggestions such as BabbleDabbleDo, Reuse This Bag, and BeautyHarmonyLife. Check out the pictures below for some ideas, too.
Improve your design. Once you’ve created something useful, think about how you can make it even better. Ask someone else for an opinion if you can’t think of ideas yourself. Make changes to your invention until you think it’s the best possible.
Give your invention a name. Be creative and think about a clever name for your new invention. Then share your invention with friends and family members.
Use your invention. Put your invention to use. Give it to someone as a gift. Be proud of yourself for being a creative inventor!
Hair accessory storage made from paper towel roll, cardboard food tray, and a scrap of wrapping paper.
Spinning tops made with old CDs. A dried out marker is the leg, secured in place with rubber bands.
These seed starter cups were made with one-half of a toilet paper roll, cut and folded on one end to close it off.