We all study the 4th of July. It comes by every year and on a good years, its an uplifting, informative, educational event. I'm not talking about the educational aspects, not the social ones.
On our bad years, we drone on about how thankful they should be and the students get turned off by the sense that they are being told the same-old-stuff in the same old ways and also, being told what they should think Ie thankful. For those of us who have read the book About How to Talk so Children will Listen (Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish - Scribner 2007), you'll be sensitve to the fact that they feel strongly about their feelings being their own and not to be dictated.
Haven't you (I have!) transgressed and had some lousy 4th of July lessons?
Here's my best tips. 1. Try asking questions this year and let them show what they know. Kids learn best by explaining and from listening to each other. Put them in a group and ask questions (I thank the homeschool online blog for their post which explained this to me a few years back). For younger ones, ask what are we celebrating on the 4th of July (Independence Day). Or, independence from whom? Or with what document did the colonists tell the world that they were independent.
Older kids can be asked about any other declarations of indepence in American history. Smart kids will ask if Texas declared it independence when they left Mexico but before they joined the US. They might wonder if the Confederacy issued a Declaration of Independence. They might wonder about the different Indian uprisings and any of thier declarations.
2. Try using technology to teach. A few ideas. There is some great history and social studies curriculum materials in Time4Learning. BTW, It's first and second grade social studies where students learn about historical holidays (see the first and second grade social studies lesson plans.) In Sixth grade, students study the westward migration and begin state studies ( sixth grade social studies curriculum). There are fun word holiday vocabulary word lists available for free on VocabularySpellingCity. They can be played as a game show or whatever using these games: Alphabetical Order, Word Search, Unscramble, Hangman (HangMouse), Crossword Puzzle, Handwriting Printables, Word-O-Rama Game Show and Word Find.
There are also fun visual learning games on topics such as