Freedom and Justice for ALL

The 4th of July is this Saturday and what a perfect opportunity to teach our children a little bit about our nation and the wonderful variety of people who live here! Sometimes our country can seem like it’s one huge mess with the hate and division and refusal to listen to other’s opinions we see on the news and online, but the core principals we were founded on- freedom, fairness, and equality for every human who enters our shores (all means everyone here people)- and the unique melting pot of nations and cultures who live here are what make our country so great. It’s our job to teach these ideas to our children continually throughout each year, but also in a focused way during certain holidays- and I think the birth of our nation is no exception! So this week I put together lesson plans celebrating the diversity of all Americans (as well as some fun patriotic activities!) for you to share with your little. Don’t forget to check out my toddler page for some red, white and blue sensory play and art ideas too! Happy 4th of July everyone!

Literacy: This week we’re going to be reading books on several different groups of Americans, so you’ll need to get your hands on a few- the library is a perfect place to start because they’re free and you can choose to buy them online later if you think they’re keepers! These are the books we read, but there are several booklists out there with many other great suggestions including this one I found at PBS Kids! Reading stories together with your children about people who may be different from them can open them up to new worlds and new ways of thinking as well as allow them to view others with empathy and kindness rather than fear and distrust. If you’d like to learn more about the magic of multicultural kids books, check out my blog post Combatting Prejudice through Kid’s Books!

We read 1-2 stories a day on each group of Americans (African, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern and Native) and then I had my little tell me one way the characters in the story were like us and one thing he learned about them, which we recorded on the graphic organizer below!

Math:

-United States flag counting: We spread out our US flag on the countertop and I had my little count the stars and stripes. We discussed how there are 13 strips to represent the first 13 states, and how there are 50 stars to represent the current 50 states! (I helped him count the stars by pointing as he went since they’re sort of scrunched together pretty tight!). We also worked on the Pledge of Allegiance each day this week!

-Star number recognition and counting: Write the numbers 1-10 in boxes on a piece of paper (or on separate pieces of cardstock if you want to reuse them as flashcards or mix them up and have your little put them in the correct order later). Have your little identify each number then show it with sparkly star stickers! (I got mine at Walmart)

-Ordinal number practice: We went over the first 4 ordinal numbers (because July 4th)- ie. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th- then I had my little build each one with legos and show it with star confetti!

-Firework adding page: I made this cute firework adding page by drawing a circle with a number in the center, then adding solid firework “legs” that matched the number (and dotted line “legs” to make them a bit more fun!). My little then identified each number and counted up all the solid legs to get his answer. I wrote the answers with dots and he traced them.

Social Studies: Usually we do science, but every now and then I throw in some social studies lessons- this week’s theme seemed like the perfect occasion for that!

-Toothpaste kindness activity: I let my little squeeze out a WHOLE TUBE of toothpaste onto a plate (boy was he excited! You can get a tube for $1 at Dollar General or you could do this with a pouch of apple sauce and have them eat it afterwards so you’re not wasting). Then I asked him to put the toothpaste back in the tube (obviously he couldn’t). I told him to apologize to the toothpaste for squeezing it all out and I asked if that helped…he said “no”. Then I explained our words are the same way. When we say unkind things to someone, we can’t take them back- similar to how we can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. We can and should apologize, but that doesn’t always fix the hurt we caused someone’s heart (again, just like apologizing to the toothpaste didn’t put it back in the tube). This lesson is gold for older kids- my teammates used to do it in the classroom at the start of the year, however my 3 year old was absolutely fixated on the fact he got to squeeze out all the toothpaste and might have missed the metaphor even though I explained it like 3 times… hahaha Oh well, hopefully it sunk in better than I thought!

-Inside and outside egg lesson: This is kind of science and social studies since my little used his powers of observation and exploration during the activity, but it definitely ties to a social studies big idea. I showed my little a brown egg and a white egg. I asked what he noticed about the two eggs and had him draw them. Then I let him break the eggs open on a plate (he was SO excited about this because usually I’m the one cracking the eggs when we cook together so we don’t end up with shells in our food!) and describe and draw what they looked like on the inside. We discussed that people are the same way- we may look different on the outside regarding our skin or the ways we live, but on the inside we are all the same- we all have feelings and need love, family and friendship.

-Love one another activity: God teaches us that we are supposed to love everyone like He loved us (John 13:34) and my friends- He died for us sooooo… I know this is important and if everyone could truly love like that there would be no problems in our world. I want to teach my children that they should love everyone they meet, regardless of any perceived differences because we are all God’s children. (Now does that mean I don’t teach them about stranger danger- of course not! But all strangers are to be treated with equal caution, black strangers are not scarier or more likely to harm you than white strangers. Our rule is, if you’re with mommy and daddy you can be friendly- and honestly at this age they’re always with us!) Sorry for derailing- back to the activity! We talked about how God loves all people, then my little cut out pictures of different people from magazines. I taped them in the shape of a heart and wrote our Bible verse in the center. I got this idea from our church’s preschool ministry email. You can check out their website at Calvary.us! They’re currently doing VBS online for kids 4 and up!

-Kindness tree: I made a tree trunk and leaves with some construction paper then discussed what kindness is with my little. I asked him to give me ways we can show kindness to others and I wrote them on the leaves and glued them to the tree. I got this idea from the PBS Kids Parents email! I’m linking their page in case you want to sign up or just check out their online resources- they have a ton of great articles and activities for young children that we use often!

Art:

-God Bless the USA Banner: We made this fun patriotic banner together that shows examples of different people who live in the United States. I got the people cut outs on Amazon, but you could easily make them by tracing a gingerbread man cookie cutter (or print a template of one online) on your multicultural construction paper from the supply list. I cut out the hair styles and clothing choices using scrapbook and construction paper, then had my little choose 5 skin toned people to decorate with the hair and clothing of his choice! He had a blast putting the little people together and the banner came out SO cute! We hung it on our mantle in the living room to decorate for the 4th of July! I got the ideas from Kid World Citizen and Fun Learning for Kids and just combined them!

-Multicultural hand wreath: I traced my little’s hand and layered several shades of skin colored construction paper (these are actually sold in packs if you look for “multicultural construction paper” on Amazon- teacher life!) so when I cut it out I would have several hands of all different skin tones. Then I gave him a paper plate with the center cut out and some wet glue and let him glue the hands all around the plate to make a wreath. We added a patriotic bow and some ribbon to hang our wreath and also discussed how the United States is a unique country because we have people who come here from all over the world to live, so our skin tones are all different and beautiful! I got this idea from Color Me Kinder!

-Firework salt painting: Draw fireworks with glue (or have your little give it a shot!) on black paper. Sprinkle salt on the glue and shake the excess into the trash. Have your little dip a paintbrush in watercolor paint, then gently touch the salt- the paint will absorb into the salt and stay off the paper! Have them paint all the fireworks in this fashion! I got this idea from my friend Megan!

Supply/Shopping List:

  • At least two kids’ books each on the following different groups of Americans- African, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern, and Native American
  • US flag (real or printed)
  • star stickers
  • star confetti
  • toothpaste (a full tube)
  • white and brown eggs
  • magazines to cut up
  • multicultural construction paper
  • scrapbook paper
  • a paper plate
  • Patriotic ribbon
  • thin ribbon or yarn
  • salt
  • watercolors

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