Independence Day
July 4th

Classrooms throughout the nation are preparing to celebrate our nation’s 227th birthday on July 4th 2003. SCORE History-Social Science staff has assembled this set of resources from the web to help you make these celebrations a learning experience students will never forget. At the end I included some children’s literature selections.

Primary Sources

Declaration of Independence

View the real Declaration at this Charters of Freedom Exhibit of the National Archives.

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids – Declaration of Independence

Here is a clear transcription and some history of America’s most famous document.

Declaration of Independence

Create a Declaration of Independence “happening” in your classroom. Read the Declaration along with the Real Audio rendition by Peter Thomas with one of the site’s reproductions of paintings projected on the screen.

Independence Day

To complete the Independence Day event at your school be sure to include patriotic music from this site. Full band renditions of the Stars and Stripes Forever, the Army Song, Anchors Aweigh, and much more await you here.

Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents

This special exhibition is from the collections of the Library of Congress. This is a digitized version of the exhibit for classrooms across the nation to use.

Writing the Declaration of Independence, 1776

Here is an Eyewitness account of the writing of the Declaration using primary resources from the time written by John Adams.

Lesson Ideas

Declaration of Independence

This History Channel site has background information on why the Declaration was written, biographies of its signers, interpretations of the document’s meaning, and a brief teacher’s guide. Standards 5.5.3, 8.1.2, 11.1.1, and 12.1.3

Fourth of July Timeline and Activities

This timeline is a capsule history of the holiday and the activities section provides a wealth of ideas for observing the day through art, crafts, and music.

4th of July Fireworks Display - Art Project

Using straw to blow and spread paints to create an art project on fireworks for elementary students.

Independence Day - A Problem-based Lesson

Learn about national holidays, songs, and symbols. Your class will make their own flag, monument, anthem and holiday for Independence Day. Standards 1.3.2, 1.3.3, 3.4.2, and 3.4.4

Images of the American Revolution

Analyze eight pictures and other primary sources to find out about the American Revolution. Research and write a monologue from the perspective of one of the individuals who played a significant role during the Revolutionary period. In their speeches, they should describe significant events of the period including the Stamp Act, the Declaration of Independence, Valley Forge, and the Articles of Confederation. Standards 5.5.1, 5.5.4 and 8.1.2

Causes of the Revolutionary War

The writers of the Declaration of Independence said that King George was a tyrant. Did they make this up to cause trouble, as the British thought, or was there real evidence that the king had overstepped his role as king of the British colonies? Examine the documents and events to decide. Standards 5.5.1, 5.5.3 and 8.1.2

Documents and Symbols of American Freedom

Explore the content and meaning of key documents in American history such as the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Learn the importance of major symbols of American freedom such as the Bald Eagle, the 4th of July, the Star Spangled Banner, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Uncle Sam, Lady Justice and the Statue of Liberty. Standards K.2, 1.3.3, 3.4.3, 8.2.1, and 11.1.0

The Declaration Of Independence and Your Own Rights

This lesson compares the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of Sentiments. Read the American Declaration of Independence and discuss the events that led to its writing. Identify the specific arguments for independence. Then read the Declaration of Sentiments and discuss the forces that led Stanton to write it. How is this document similar to the Declaration of Independence? Why did these women feel their rights were being violated? Standards 5.5.3, 8.1.2 and 8.6.6

Citizenship and Character: Courage of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Examine your definition of courage and what it takes to act courageously. Construct a definition of courage based on classroom discussion, then consider the Declaration of Independence and what happened to the signers in the years during and following the American Revolution. Standard 8.1.2

Declare the Causes: The Declaration of Independence

Help your students see the development of the Declaration as both an historical process and a writing process through role-play, creative writing, an introduction to some important documents and a review of historic events. Standard 5.5.3

Recommended Children’s Literature

Fireworks, Picnics, and Flags
Jim Cross Giblin

My First Fourth of July Book
Harriet Hodgson

Declaration of Independence, The
Patricia Ryon Quiri

Declaration of Independence, The: The Famous Words Ring as True Today as They Did More than 200 Years Ago
Thomas Jefferson and Sam Fink

Apple Pie and the Fourth of July
Janey S.Wong

Story of America’s Birthday, The
Patricia A. Pingry

Hurray for the Fourth of July
Wendy Watson

Fourth of July on the Plains, A
Jean Van Leeuwen

Star Spangled Banner, The
Francis Scott Key

Happy 4th of July, Jenny Sweeny
Leslie Kimmelman