Fireworks, family picnics, the red, white, and blue—these are just a few of the images we conjure when we think of the 4th of July. Each year millions of Americans celebrate this important holiday as the birthday of the United States, but do all of us really know why? It’s no surprise when you ask a four year old what the 4th of July is all about, and he/she says “FIREWORKS!”, but we grown ups know there’s history behind those bright bursts of light. Talking to our kids, teaching them why we celebrate Independence Day can be a lot of fun.

First of all, ask your kids how much they already know. What do they know about our country’s history 240 years ago? Do they know about the Boston Tea Party and the concept of “taxation without representation?” Here’s a little primer you might use to get the conversation started:

240 years ago a group of brave men got together to represent many others who lived in this land under the control of the English King George II. The people who lived here wanted more control over the laws and their way of life. These leaders, including big names like future presidents George Washington and John Adams, formed a local governing body known as The Continental Congress. This Congress was made up of representatives from the 13 original colonies.

Third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, is credited as main author of The Declaration of Independence. This historic documents states the colony’s desire to break away from English rule. It was signed on July 2nd, 1776 and accepted by the full Congress on July 4th.

While the Revolutionary War was already underway, most people recognize this moment as the birthday of America. In fact, John Adams believed this action would take on historical significance. He said, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”

If you want more, there are plenty of online resources to help like SurfNetKids where you and your children can learn together.

But for now, enjoy this fun day of celebration with your family. Eat some watermelon, get wowed at the fireworks, and be proud of what our country has accomplished. It took some serious gumption to get it started, true RESILIENCE to stay the course, but 240 years later we are still enjoying the freedoms those early leaders imagined. Happy Independence Day!

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