Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fourth of July Activities

With summer in full swing we are spending 99.9% of our time outside (or so it seems!). Truth be told, I've been purposely lax about our school time lately because this time of year is always so busy for us - lots of time spent with friends, family and in the ocean! Still, I always make sure to have a handful of trays on our shelves because James *loves* to learn! He is going through such a sensitive period for learning right now -- day after day he blows us away with his thoughts, ideas and new-found knowledge of the world. It's SO much fun being his mommy!

Here are some activities I put together in honor of America's Independence Day. Hooray for red, white and blue! :)

Practical Life

Spooning red beads When I set up James' activities I always make sure to arrange the material so he can transfer it from left to right, which simulates how we read. James calls these little beads "cherries". :) I found them at our local craft store.

Pouring water from a pitcher into four cups
I just *love* this pouring set. It's hard to see in the photo, but the design combined with the cobalt blue color makes for such an inviting activity. James was SO careful with these. I didn't have to remind him to be careful - it's as though he just knew he should be. I believe this is what comes of allowing children to use breakable materials.

Tweezing and transferring puffs
It took a bit for James to get the "press, pinch, hold and release" technique of tweezing down pat, but when he did he worked on this activity for quite a well. He loved the little clear box the puffs "lived in". :)

Transferring ice cube stars These stars are filled with water and are meant to be frozen and used as in drinks (I found them at Michael's). James created a repeating red, white and blue pattern and shook each and every star in the process. He said they sounded wet!

Plucking flowers
This is a good fine motor activity. I found a cheap bunch of fake flowers (at Micheal's) and showed James how to pinch the flowers off of the stem. I spoke for a moment about how it's not a good idea to do this to real flowers because they're still growing. He liked this activity and worked on it here and there for a few days.

Our sensory tub and playdough were a HUGE hit!

Size sequencing stars
I created these stars in Word and then printed and laminated them. You can find a link to download this here on my printables page.

We read a couple of patriotic books - F is for Flag, and L is for Liberty. Both of these are really good, very factual, yet easy to read and for children to understand. James really enjoyed these books.

Another book we had on hand is America: A Patriotic Primer. I love this one - it's packed with details and fun facts and it lists the topics in alphabetical order, e.g. L is for Lincoln, E is for Equality, etc. Each page is full of detailed illustrations, which really captured James' attention.

I found this printable here. Inside the little box are flat sided marbles which James matched up with the circles on the flag. The control of error was that here were just enough blue marbles for the stars and red marbles for the stripes.

Memory matching US symbols
This activity was a great way to introduce some new topics and vocabulary words to James, such as Statue of Liberty and Liberty Bell. I think I printed these off from


Flag game I created this game for James and WOW did he get such a kick out of it! Inside the small tray are enough star-shaped beads for as many dots are on any given side of the dice. James rolls the dice and if, say, he rolls a five, he'd remove five beads from the tin and place them in the empty blue section of the flag. Like I said, James loved this and easily worked through each number. Since this wasn't as challenging for him as I thought it would be, I adapted it be a simple addition/subtraction game. For example, when James rolled five and added five beads to the flag, and then on the next turn he rolled a three, I taught him to remove two beads to get the three he needed. You can find a link to download this here on my printables page.

Star sticker numbers
I made these cards in Word, printed and laminated them. Each card has a number and James will stick the appropriate number of star stickers on each card. The fact that the cards are laminated means they're reusable - yay! You can find a link to download this here on my printables page.

Culture & Geography

Flag pushing Another great fine motor activity. I found these flag toothpicks at the dollar store and the Styrofoam block at the craft store. James was thrilled about this - I think I put about 50 flag picks in that bowl and he pushed each and every one into the foam block.

James' love for his USA puzzle has reached a new level - he plays with it all. the. time. He will work on it from start to finish and calls off the states he knows and asks for names of those he doesn't. The other day he had the puzzle nearly complete with the exception of one piece. He said to me, "Mama, I can't find Wisconsin! Minnesota will miss it - let's find it! Hurry!". :D

You can download my Fourth of July printables by clicking on these links:
Star Sequencing
Sticker Flags
Flag Game
Calendar Cards

As always, my printables are available for your personal use only - please do not sell or offer them in a giveaway. Thank you!

I'm linking this post up to Montessori Monday, The Preschool Corner and What My Child is Reading - check out these links for more activities!


Mama to 5 said...

what wonderful 4th of July activities! You are very creative!
Nicole :)

Ariella said...

Wow! you are awesome!!!

Di Ryan said...

These activities are all wonderful! Way to go! It is completely inspiring.

Basbusa's Mama said...

Thanks so much, what a phenomenal collection of July 4th activities! I think the whole Patriotism concept would be a bit over my daughter's head this year, but next year for sure we'll be following in your footsteps!

(V.Kerr) School Time Adventures said...

Everytime I see your whole thematic unit of activities I just have to say wow! Ok some of my favs:
*Roll the dice and put them on the flag
*Those star ice cubes you found.

Thanks for the inspiration!


(V.Kerr) School Time Adventures said...

Hi, it's Vanessa again. I would love the template for the "Flag game". Would you be willing to post it or email it.

p.s. I forgot to tell you that I also love the idea of flower plucking.

Anonymous said...

Great activities Mari-Ann! Love the flags into the Styrofoam! I would love the size sequencing template. This is something we are struggling a little with here so any new ones to play with are always more exciting and more likely to hold his interest!

Rebecca said...

We also tweezered red white and blue puffs into a start tray :) And i love the flag math game with the dice and star beads.

LaBelle37 said...

Super activities and I would love for you to share the templates so I could do these activities with my daughter. Thanks for the inspiration!

Susan-Chasing Marcus said...

These are fabulous! If you get around to it, I would love to use some of the printables with Sophie. We are doing Fourth of July next week, because of the move and my inability to get everything organized for this week!

Jen said...

Inspiring, as always! I want to reach out and do these activities too! What a lucky boy James is. I'd love each of those printables, if you don't mind. Thank you for your ongoing generosity!!

MamaGames - Alexa C. said...

Your sensory bin looks fireworks-fantastic - my kids would love it!

The cobalt blue pouring set is lovely... and matches my real, grown-up glasses and pitchers, at least in the color. I may need to pick this set up for my kiddos!

Unknown said...

I love, love, love your sensory tub for the 4th of July. Your little one does some amazing, fun activities.

Nadia said...

visiting your blog and i have to say... you inspire me!
All your activities are so wonderful yet you use normal every day type of items! I love it! im your newest follower

Unknown said...

This post has been selected as one of my great posts of the week. Here is the link to my post.</

The Activity Mom said...


Anonymous said...

I'm SO increadibly inspired by you!!! Thanks for this great great post, I'm making notes for next years fourth!

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Thanks for joining WMCIR and as always I am amazed at the variety of activities you do with James. Those little toothpick flags would have been very popular here too, I am sure. We read F is for Flag, and Anna enjoyed it a lot too.

The Activity Mom said...

Just linked up to these!=)

Jackie Higgins said...

Thanks for the book suggestions! We had those same flags. My MIL left them at our house so we pushed them into playdough. That worked great too!

Deb Chitwood said...

Fabulous post! What wonderful activities focusing on the Fourth of July! I featured your post for the Living Montessori Now Activity of the Week at

Unknown said...

I always love your work. You Rock!! I will be sure to link back when I use these activities soon. Thank You for sharing.

XYZZ said...

Thanks for linking to Montessori Monday! I love all the 4th-themed trays. Way to go, mama!

Anne said...

What a great bunch of activities! I'm making note for next year!

Jennifer Howard said...

You are amazing! i love the flag pushing idea especially, how simple & how original! i love your blog!

Farah Jasmine said...

I love these! Would it be okay with you if I add to a list I'm building for our forums at Mothers' Hideaway ??

Farah Jasmine said...

Just subscribing now :hehe:

Leptir (NataĊĦa) said...

So wonderful activities :-)
Thanks for sharing!

Abby said...

I realize I'm a year late, I just found your blog, but I would love the flag printables you created. Thanks for your wonderful ideas!

Counting Coconuts said...

@Abby: I've added PDF links to the post. :)

Deb Chitwood said...

Thanks so much for adding your wonderful printables to the post, Mari-Ann! I featured your post again at


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