Our feature book for our Independence Day studies is The 4th of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh. This book is popular and should be easy to find at your library, and it’s a great, easy-to-understand introduction to Independence Day! (If you can’t get the book, you can borrow the online version for free!)
We had fun discovering new facts about Independence Day, and we even found a way to integrate some science into our studies. Check out the links below to find some activities and ideas to use for your own studies about the 4th!
Why do we celebrate the 4th?
We celebrate Independence Day on July 4th to honor the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. A string of events led the delegates from the colonies to meet in multiple closed-door sessions of the Second Continental Congress, and on July 2. 1776, twelve colonial delegations voted in favor of independence from Great Britain. The delegates proceeded to spend the next two days going over Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence, and the final wording was adopted on July 4, 1776.
To learn more…
Read more about the history of Independence Day in this article from History.com
View a short video about the history of the 4th of July.
Discover nine things you may not know about the 4th of July.
Learn fun facts about the 4th in July 4th by the Numbers on Military.com
Watch an episode of Liberty’s Kids about the first 4th of July.
Take a five-minute crash course in the history of the July 4th with this video. (This video is fast-paced and lighthearted, so you should preview to determine if your child can grasp the concepts.)
The Second Continental Congress met at Independence Hall (then known as the Pennsylvania State House). If you don’t have an opportunity to visit (or have never been), there are plenty of videos and activity books to give you a small taste without the travel expense!
See Independence Hall in this short video.
Learn the history of Independence Hall in this clip from “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment.”
See the Assembly Room in Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was revised and eventually signed.
See a presentation at Independence Hall as it is presented by the National Park Service during a tour.
Print an activity book about Independence Hall, provided free by the National Park Service.
View the different rooms at Independence Hall here.
Declaration of Independence
Sign the Declaration with this interactive, printable activity.
Watch a clip about the Declaration of Independence from “America: The Story of Us.”
Watch a five-minute crash course about the history of the Declaration and the events that led up to it.
Learn some interesting facts about the signers.
Did you know there is a hand print on the bottom of the Declaration of Independence? Watch this video to investigate more about the handprint and come up with your own theory about why it’s there!
Auditory learners will enjoy The Declaration of Independence episode of You Are There, an Old Time Radio program that originally aired in 1948. It’s old, so be prepared for the quality difference, but this series is a fun piece of history that puts you in the story as if it’s happening now. This is in the public domain, so it’s free! (The link is cued to the correct episode, but you’ll have to push the “play” button to get it to start!) 🙂
The Cavalcade of America, another Old Time Radio program, also features a free audio drama entitled The Declaration of Independence. (Push play after the jump!)
The Liberty Bell
Dalgliesh’s The 4th of July Story begins with a few words about the Liberty Bell. Originally known as the State House Bell because it rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), tradition states that it rang on July 8, 1776, to summon the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the first public reading of The Declaration of Independence. It wasn’t until 1839 that it became a symbol of liberty and was called the Liberty Bell by a group trying to abolish slavery.
Listen to a short audio of the story of the Liberty Bell.
Computer modeling has provided a way for us to hear what the Liberty Bell most likely sounded like when it rang freely with its clapper. Listen to what it most likely sounded like here.
Watch a video about the Liberty Bell.
Read more about the Liberty Bell here.
Create Liberty Bell sun catchers.
Learn how to draw the Liberty Bell with these step-by-step instructions.
Study John Trumbull’s painting “Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776,” created with oil on canvas in 1817.
Use this interactive version of John Trumbull’s painting to see the names of those in the room in the painting as well as a few other interesting facts about other items featured in the painting. For an interactive close-up of the painting, check out this link.
If you prefer a printable sheet to use to identify those featured in the painting, you can print one here.
To learn more about some of the signers and the order of states that signed, you can watch this video that also features Trumbull’s painting.
Look at the historical context of the painting and see how it compares to the Trumbull’s art.
If you have a curious student who wants to learn more about Trumbull and some of his other paintings, click here to dig deeper.
The 4th of July is specific to America and the freedoms we enjoy as citizens. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the same experience for others around the world. As Christians, however, there are certain freedoms we have been granted that are not specific to where we live – they are gifts we receive from God. You can find some simple Bible lesson ideas about freedom here to teach your children about the freedom we have in Christ.
Watch some 4th of July themed experiments with these Steve Spangler episodes.
Learn how fireworks “work” with this video.
High school students can study more about the chemistry of fireworks in this article from the American Chemical Society. Additional activities and lessons about fireworks can be found on the ACS website here (including some activities and lessons for your younger learners).
This video is long but full of demonstrations and interesting information about the science of fireworks.
Print some free July 4th coloring pages.
Create a book about the history of fireworks with this activity.
Put events in order in this Time Zone Declaration of Independence quiz from Brain Pop!
Just for Fun!
Learn about the different types of fireworks you might see in a 4th of July celebration.
Watch the Disney’s Celebrate America 4th of July Concert in Sky.
Create an American flag pinwheel.
Make 4th of July paper lanterns.
Library Book Suggestions
Biographical Sketches of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (public domain freebie for older readers)
Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (another public domain freebie for older readers)
In Memory of…
I can’t do a post about the 4th of July without mentioning my grandfather. He was a true patriot who served this country and earned a Silver Star for risking his life to save fellow soldiers in the Battle of Chosin during the Korean War. I never met my grandfather because he died before I was born, but my parents did a great job of keeping his memory alive by filling our home with stories and photos of him.
From a humble beginning in dire poverty to later becoming orphaned and separated from his siblings, he rose above his circumstances and eventually dedicated his life to Christ and service to the Lord. He died on July 4, 1970, which is why I wanted to mention him in this post. I’m so thankful that God’s promise of eternal life to us means that I will be able to meet him one day, and I’m thankful for his service that contributed to the freedoms we enjoy today!
My sweet boys made a video to honor him as a gift to my father on Father’s Day 2016. You can check it out here. The song in the video is one that my grandfather would sing to my dad when he was a child. Enjoy!