Monday, July 1, 2013

Fourth of July: More than just red, white, and blue

When I was trying to plan preschool for this week, I knew that I wanted to have the theme be Fourth of July. But I was super disappointed with what I found on the internet as resources for preschool. Most of it was just various, cutesy crafts, painting fireworks, or decorating with red, white and blue. All those things are great, of course, and they are nice to do. But I wanted a lesson plan that really celebrated America and all I was finding was fluff.

So I had to come up with something on my own. I'm sharing some of what we are doing early so that you can do it with your kids, if you would like. Red, White and Blue is nice. But a beginning introduction to what makes America special, our flag, and some American history is better.

First, the flag. This was easiest part because you can find F is for flag worksheets, crafts, lesson plans, etc. Be sure to count the stripes. What does each strip represent? What does each star represent? What are the colors? Who made the flag? All of these questions can be discussed while working on one of the various flag crafts you can find around the internet.

Second, What makes America special? Every day we are briefly discussing what makes America special. I am using the rights guaranteed in the First Amendment as our guide. Here I've included the pictures and quick explanation for each. With younger kids, just this explanation will do. These explanations are, obviously, very simplified. But we're talking about 3-5 year-olds here. With a little bit older kids you may want to discuss further, maybe do a little playacting or something.

Freedom of Religion: We can go to whatever church we want.

Freedom of Speech: We can say whatever we want.

Freedom of the Press: The news can say whatever it wants.

Freedom of Assembly: We can meet with whoever we want.

And now for the big story of the week! We are talking about Paul Revere! I decided to tell the very simple story and then read (the very abridged) poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. When reading the poem I use the following pictures, a lot of expression, and a ton of sound effects. You HAVE to keep your kids attention. Once Paul Revere takes off on his horse, intersperse throughout the rest of the poem the sound of a horse galloping, followed by "The Redcoats are coming! The redcoats are coming!" (I know he didn't really yell this, but it adds to the drama of the story so I keep it in.) I've included my abridged version of the poem below along with the pictures I use for it. Be sure to make the picture of Paul Revere "gallop". Get into this! It's fun.

Here's a video of me doing it with the kids. They were thrown by the camera, but Jane is usually a lot louder with her sound effects.

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,

On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,

And the twitter of birds among the trees,

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,

A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Well, I hope you're inspired!

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