Decorate your bike and have
a neighborhood parade.
© 2006 Rachel Robertson.
Reprinted with permission.
In the midst of the many upcoming patriotic holidays, it is a great time to teach children about patriotism. Patriotism means love and devotion to one's country. Although patriotism can be shown in a variety of ways, it’s important to begin with the basics. Here are some suggestions to help kids learn about patriotism:
- Talk with children about how people express patriotism in many different ways. Why do you love the United States ? How is it different from other countries? What makes it a great place to live? What could we do to improve it?
- See how many flags you can find flying in your local community. Discuss that the fifty stars represent our fifty states and the thirteen stripes represent the original thirteen colonies. A star was added to the flag on the 4 th of July after the admission of each new state to the Union .
- Show children how to fold a flag. Instructions.
- Volunteer at a local veterans hospital. Talk to patients about their lives and experiences and include children in the conversation.
- Read the Declaration of Independence to children. Have them pretend they are starting their own country and try writing their own Declaration of Independence.
- Read through the Bill of Rights and discuss why they think our founding fathers thought these rights were important. Develop a Bill of Rights for your home.
- Write a soldier a thank you note or a letter. There are many programs that connect you to soldiers such as Operation Dear Abby.
- Watch documentaries on American history together.
- Help a deployed soldier’s family. Contact a local base, National Guard, or Reservist location and ask what you can do.
- Make sure that you vote whenever there is the opportunity. Bring your children with you and share with them how fortunate we are to have this right.
- Talk about your own family history. Research which ancestors were veterans or were involved in the armed forces.
- Design a family tree or timeline to trace your family’s history and immigration to the United States . Discuss why your ancestors immigrated to America .
- Go to a 4 th of July or other patriotic parade. Participate in the event if possible.
- Sing patriotic songs together. Write down the lyrics and discuss what they mean.
- Talk about the sacrifices civilians made during past war times, such as rationing gas. Share how many women worked for the first time during World War II.
- Eat MREs (Meal Ready to Eat) for dinner one evening. (MREs can be purchased at camping stores.) Discuss the sacrifices our troops have to make when deployed.
- Acknowledge the reason behind a national holiday. What is its history? How did it come about?
- When you see a member of the armed forces or a public officer say thank you.
- Say the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Ask children to think about ways they can express their love and devotion to our country.
These simple activities are fun and interesting ways to share patriotism with children and teach them the history of our nation.
Rachel Robertson is an educator and trainer focused on child development. She is also the author of Deployment Journal for Kids , a special place for military kids to record their feelings and events when a loved one is deployed. For more information and special activities for kids going through deployments, visit www.deploymentkids.com.