Fourth of July Activities For Toddlers

Teach Your Toddler About Fourth of July

Here is a week's worth of Fourth of July activities to get you started as well as other ways to extend the week's learning.

Start with Vocabulary and Basic Fourth of July Concepts

Patriotic dad and son
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There are many things to see in the environment around your toddler that have to do with Independence Day. There will be book displays at the library or bookstore. Fireworks stands will be open. There will be more displays of red, white and blue and flags will be everywhere you look.  The deeper meaning of Independence Day is a topic best left until your toddler is much older, but you can use this time to introduce what it means to your family and you can take advantage of all the new and different things around him to reinforce other concepts. 

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Red, White and Blue Fingerpaint

Finger painting helps your toddler gain fine motor control: Each time his hand moves the way his brain directs or expects, he is closer to fully controlling a paint brush, crayon or pencil.

To make a flag, paint each fingertip red or white (alternate colors) and gently guide your toddler's fingers across the paper to make the stripes stopping short of the upper left corner. On the other hand, paint each fingertip blue and let your toddler make enough dots there to resemble the starry area of the flag. Take a moment to admire the flag and then let him do his own thing with the colors on a different paper.

Tip: Line the table with newspaper or do this activity in a high chair for easy clean-up.

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Stars and Stripes Flag

Collage art is not just fun for toddlers, but it helps them learn spatial reasoning. First, find some pictures of American flags (past and present) or use an actual flag if you have one as a model. Cut out stars and stripes and allow your child to assemble their flag onto a piece of construction paper. You can use a glue stick or put a small amount of glue in a shallow dish with a paint brush to get the pieces to adhere to your paper.

Other ways to make a flag:

  • Tear or cut construction paper into 1/2 inch to 1-inch pieces and glue them along a printed flag pattern.
  • Use a sponge cut into the shapes of stars and squares, then use fabric paint to make the flag on a piece of fabric (like a pillow case) or use regular tempera paint on paper.

Make Fourth of July Related Food

Any time you're trying to teach your toddler a new concept or reinforce an old one, I implore you to spend some time in the kitchen. Even if you don't think you're a great cook, I'd bet you're better than you think and even if you're not, you can both learn things at the same time. Cooking together is great for so many things - language, science concepts, math concepts, learning cause-and-effect, getting practice following directions... I could go on and on. Many families celebrate the Fourth with a picnic or cookout, too, so cooking activities are a natural fit. Give some of these holiday recipes a try. Even if your toddler doesn't seem to be helping much, just remember to go slowly, be patient and keep talking!

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Make 3-D Fireworks Art

Fireworks are an exciting part of most July 4th celebrations, but proceed with caution: Some toddlers are frightened of them. To introduce and reinforce the idea of fireworks with your child, this 3D project is great. Just be sure you don't use glitter with toddlers since the sharp pieces can injure their eyes. Instead, use paper confetti instead. You can buy it or it's easy enough to make with a hole puncher, scissors or even tearing (which is great small motor practice. You could also do this activity with colored yarn dipped in glue. While you're doing the activity, you can prepare your child by talking about the noises and bright lights that fireworks produce as well as safety guidelines.

Fourth of July Tie Dyed Shirts

Tie Dye is a fun activity for the whole family and the best part is that when it's over, you have a wearable reminder of the fun you had. Older kids can tie dye in the traditional manner, while younger kids can use rubber bands instead of string or use patriotic colors like red and blue in a spray bottle instead of a sink, washer or large container. You don't have to limit your projects to T-shirts, either. Toddlers might find it easier to dye bandanas, tank tops, and socks.

Sing Patriotic Songs

This is the perfect holiday to start teaching your toddler some patriotic songs. "Yankee Doodle" is a favorite of children and has an easy-to-remember rhyme scheme. Of course, you'll want to teach your child our national anthem of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Even just listening to beautiful arrangements of songs like "America the Beautiful" can help nurture a love and appreciation of our country as well as music.

Keep the Fun and Learning Going by...

  • Playing with Red, White and Blue Playdough
  • Taking your child with you to an Independence Day Parade
  • Painting with star-shaped cookie cutters or sponges
  • Taking your child with you every time you vote
  • Teaching your child the pledge of allegiance
  • Singing songs about America all year long
  • Modeling good citizenship in other ways as your child grows

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