By Jennifer Halter
Celebrating the 4th of July isn’t just about watching fireworks. There are many fun activities you can do with your family to celebrate this day without leaving your house. Here are five favorites.
Host a Red, White and Blue Birthday Party
It’s America’s Birthday, so why not throw a party to celebrate? Everyone can dress in their favorite red, white and blue clothing and prepare snacks of the same colors. You can even bake a special birthday cake with white frosting and decorate it with fresh strawberries and blueberries to keep with your theme.
Rock painting has become a favorite pastime in many families, because it not only allows for the creative juices to flow, but it provides an opportunity to connect with others through a game of hide and seek. You will need some smooth rocks of various sizes, acrylic paint and your imagination to complete this activity. You can add a sealant to your finished creations, but it’s not required. Some patriotic painting ideas include flags, fireworks and stars. Once completely dry, hide your rocks around the neighborhood for others to find.
This is a fun and easy craft for all ages. You will need heavy paper (Card stock works best, but construction
paper will do.), white glue, salt and watercolors. Use the glue to draw pictures, such as fireworks or stars.
Before the glue dries, sprinkle salt completely over your designs and then shake off the excess. Allow the
designs to dry. Use your watercolors to paint the dried salt pictures. The watercolors will spread over the salt in the most magical way. Allow to dry completely before displaying.
Sensory play is a great learning tool for younger children, although older children may want to get in on
the fun, too! Be warned, sensory activities can get a little messy, but that just adds to the experience.
For the perfect toddler/preschooler activity, try making red, white and blue shaving cream. You will need plain white shaving cream (not gel) and red and blue food coloring. Grab a container (a rectangular plastic bin will work best) and spray three sections of the shaving cream. Add red food coloring to one section and blue food coloring to another section. Leave the final section white. With a spoon, mix the food coloring into the cream and then let the kiddos dive in to play!
For another sensory activity option, create a bin of red, white and blue objects of different shapes and textures that provide an opportunity for children to scoop, pour or simply touch. Dyed pasta is an excellent option.
To dye the pasta, you will need dried pasta of various shapes and sizes, rubbing alcohol, food coloring and
large plastic bags (one for each color you plan to make). Put the desired amount of pasta in the plastic bag and add a splash of rubbing alcohol (about ½ tablespoon) and 10 to 12 drops of food coloring. Seal the bag and shake and squish the pasta to make sure all of the pieces get coated with the dye mixture. Allow pasta to sit in the bags for at least 10 minutes to give the color time to absorb. Pour pasta out onto a baking sheet
covered with paper towels or parchment paper and allow to dry completely. This step may take a few hours. Note that because of the rubbing alcohol, you will want to monitor younger children, so they do not eat the pasta.
Other ideas for items to add include fuzzy pom poms, confetti, plastic straws that have been cut into pieces
and foam stars. Be sure to include scoops, cups, spoons or even plastic tweezers, so the children can explore.
There’s nothing better than sipping on a refreshing beverage to beat the mid-summer heat. The kids
will love making these special slushies. To make the slushies, choose any flavor of red or blue Jell-O, one
cup of boiling water, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 cup of juice or soda. Make sure that the juice or soda flavor complements the Jell-O flavor you have chosen.
Strawberry gelatin with lemonade or blueberry gelatin with Sprite makes a great combo. Combine the boiling water and Jell-O until completely dissolved. Mix in the lemon juice and the juice or soda of your choice. Once mixed, pour into a baking dish and put into the freezer for 3 to 4 hours or until hardened.
When you are ready to serve, scoop desired amount into a glass. You may want to add a bit more of the juice or soda of your choice or serve as is.
Take this opportunity to share the reasons why this holiday is so important, and no matter how you
celebrate, make it fun!
Jennifer Halter is publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas