Here are my tips:
-Be prepared for a mess
-Be prepared for them losing interest
-Be prepared for them creating something entirely different than what you had in mind
-Be prepared. That is, get EVERYTHING ready, paints set out, brushes, paper, and etc and have a plan. If doing this with varying aged children be prepared for having a plan of what the toddler can do, what the 4 year old can do, what the almost 7 year old can do. ETC.
With that in mind...I did not take this advice, having nothing laid out and just a general idea that we would "Make flags for the Fourth of July" and that we would use paint. Then as the children gathered around frantically tearing into the art supplies (Mom is gonna let us paint!!! YAY!!!) I thought, hmmm, a stamp for the star would be nice...hmmm...out of a POTATO! I am a GENIUS!!
SO I cut a star shape out of half of a potato. Then I remembered my above guideliness, everyone needs a job. So we got out a large sheet of paper and I drew out the lines to make a flag. (I didnt draw in the right amount of stripes somehow. The toddler was, at this point trying to paint herself and I got flustered although it totally gave me flashbacks of trying to make a perfect flag in gradeschool and obsessing over getting the stars and stripes exactly right. Funny right?)
Little miss got assigned stamping the stars, out of yellow (yes I know they arent yellow) Then she helped me paint the red stripes in while little man outlined all the stars in blue and filled in the square. Baby did not get a job, and I almost lost it as she tried to 1) eat the potato 2) stamp the table 3) paint the table 4) eat the paintbrush. And this is as little man is getting worked up about the stars not being in straight lines or the right number. And meanwhile little miss is whining for her own paper to do her OWN flag. I promptly got her her own paper, and baby too, so little man and I could finish the big flag in peace.
Little miss had fun stamping her own paper, making an abstract version of a flag. Little man asked me to please draw a flag for him to color in, with all of the stars and stripes like the real flag, a precise/perfectionist child after my own heart, ha.
All in all, it was a fun craft. We read the below story about the boy who helpedd his grandfather ring out the bell to announce the acceptance of the declaration. I have to confess the poem made me a little teary eyed. And then we read the story of Cornwallis' defeat and the ending of the war, per little man's request. You can find it here.
Of course after we made our flags and wiped up the pain (ETA: typo, that should say paint, but...PAIN...HAHAHAHA. this made me laugh as I edited...)the kids decided to start cutting paper. So I said, hey, when I was little we used to cut paper up into paper dolls and make clothes and hats for them and everything and the kids said, HEY, WE WANNA DO THAT. So, for the next HOUR we cut out dolls and dresses and overalls and baseball caps and little man even made beds and blankets for them. Adorable.
Yay crafting! And, Happy Fourth my friends!
At the beginning of the war the colonists had not expected to be free from British rule: indeed they did not wish to be. All they did ask was that they might be treated fairly. But since they had begun to fight, they grew more and more convinced that now nothing less than perfect independence of the mother-country ought to satisfy them.
Then the leading men of the colonies met together at Philadelphia to draw up a writing, in which they declared themselves no longer subject to English rule. Five men, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingstone, were appointed to write it out; and when this was done every man in the Congress signed it.
It had been agreed that as soon as the Declaration was adopted the old bell-man should ring the big “Liberty-bell” that hung in the tower of the old State House, in order that the great throng of people outside might know it. This, as I suppose you all know, happened July 4, 1776.
The old bell-man had taken his place up in the tower, and had told his little grandson to tell him when the time came to ring the bell.
Messengers were sent in every direction to tell the news in every village and town; the boys lit fires, the cannons blazed, and everywhere the people—men, women, and children, tried in every way to show their joy that they were now all to stand shoulder to shoulder, a free nation.
There was tumult in the city,
In the quaint old Quaker town,
And the streets were rife with people,
Pacing restless up and down;—
People gathering at corners,
Where they whispered each to each,
And the sweat stood on their temples,
With the earnestness of speech.
"Will they do it?" "Dare they do it?"
"Who is speaking?" "What’s the news?"
"What of Adams?" "What of Sherman?"
"Oh, God grant they won’t refuse!"
"Make some way there!" "Let me nearer!"
"I am stifling!" "Stifle then!
When a nation’s life’s at hazard,
We’ve no time to think of men!"
So they beat against the portal,
Man and woman, maid and child;
And the July sun in heaven
On the scene looked down and smiled,
The same sun that saw the Spartan
Shed his patriot blood in vain,
Now beheld the soul of freedom
All unconquer’d rise again.
See! See! The dense crowd quivers
Through all its lengthy line,
As the boy beside the portal
Looks forth to give the sign!
With his small hands upward lifted,
Breezes dallying with his hair,
Hark! With deep, clear intonation,
Breaks his young voice on the air.
Hushed the people’s swelling murmur,
List, the boy’s exultant cry!
"Ring!" he shouts, "Ring, Grandpa,
Ring, O, ring for Liberty!"
And straightway at the signal,
The old bellman lifts his hand,
And sends the good news, making
Iron music through the land.
How they shouted! What rejoicing!
How the old bell shook the air,
Till the clang of freedom ruffled
The calm, gliding Delaware!
How the bonfires and the torches
Illumed the night’s repose,
And from the flames like fabled Phoenix,
Our glorious Liberty arose!
That old bell now is silent,
And hushed its iron tongue,
But the spirit it awakened,
Still lives—forever young.
And when we greet the smiling sunlight,
On the fourth of each July,
We’ll ne’er forget the bellman,
Who, betwixt the earth and sky,
Rang out our independence,
Which, please God, shall never die!