Happy Birthday to the United States!
Here are some ideas for lesson plans about America’s national holiday that you can use in your classes.
1. Practice numbers
There’s a lot of things you can do with numbers on this day. Here are some that you can work with:
- 4th of July
- 13 colonies
- 50 states
- 56 people who signed the Declaration of Independence
Did you know that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence who later served as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, 50 years after the signed the Declaration of Independence?
You might not be able to make a whole lesson out of these, but if you’re already working on numbers, they can be a good source of relevant material.
2. Practice Parts of Speech with the National Anthem
The Star-Spangled Banner has a lot of unfamiliar vocabulary (who uses the word “spangled” these days), but that makes it good material for figuring out parts of speech based on context.
O! say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
What part of speech is “twilight”? Well, it comes after “the” and has a possessive ” ‘s” – it’s a noun! How about “gallantly”? Adverb, because it’s got an “-ly” at the end!
It’s also a good length: there’s enough examples of different word parts, but it’s also not painfully long. Have students color-code it (red nouns, blue adjectives, etc.) or mark it up in some way (circle adverbs, underline verbs, double-underline adjectives).
3. Practice Compare-Contrast Writing
A great writing prompt for Independence Day is:
How is your nation’s national holiday similar to or different from the Fourth of July?
You would need to make sure that the students know enough about the Fourth of July first – what the history is, how people celebrate, etc. – so that they have a few points of comparison they can work with. You can give them a short reading passage about the holiday beforehand (see the end of this article for some resources).
As a followup, you can have students from different countries read each others’ essays and respond to them.
4. Practice Sequences with a Fourth of July Schedule
Almost every American city has a schedule of events that people can enjoy on the Fourth of July. Find the website for your city and take a look. For example, here is the schedule of Fourth of July events for Champaign, Illinois.
You can either take the information from your town/city’s website and put it on your own format, or just print out the website itself.
From there, you can ask your students to write or speak about the schedule of events. For example, “The first thing on the Fourth of July is Race Day Registration at 7:30am at the Bielfeldt Athletic Building. After that, there is a Youth Race at 8:30. Then…” and so on.
You can also give students the list of events and ask rapid fire questions:
- “What event is at 7:30?”
- “What happens after the 5k Run/Walk?”
- “What happens before the fireworks?”
Sean Banville has a lot of good resources based on a short, ESL-focused article on the Fourth of July on his ESL Holiday Lessons website.
EL Civics has some Fourth of July materials for lower-level students.
And finally, Larry Ferlazzo has a long list of different useful Fourth of July resources.
Thanks for reading.