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How to Explain 4th of July to Kids: A Picnic Activity

Carly is an artist and art therapist who enjoys developing creative, fun, and educational activities for kids.

You Can Explain the Whole Revolutionary War Using Condiments

You are going to be initiated as a great 4th of July storyteller. Good stories sometimes use props. Gather the kids and the props (see below) around the picnic table and begin the story of how Relish emancipated America from King Ketchup of Great Britain.

The Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence.

You Will Need

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Relish
  • Plastic Spoons
  • Plastic Forks
  • Napkins
  • 10 Pennies for Each Child
  • (optional) an Onion Ring for a Crown

Gather the kids around the table with the supplies and begin your story outlined below.

Fourth of July Story and History for Kids

"One day, there was a King of Great Britain. He is represented here as the ketchup bottle."

Demonstration: If you have an onion ring, you can place it as a crown on his head.

"Well, this king would go around and tell others what to do, what to say, and what to believe in. He told everyone that you must give me 5 of your pennies."

Demonstration: Have the ketchup bottle walk to each child and take 5 pennies. If a child resists, jokingly send them to the dungeon. If you are a dysfunctional family, you can jokingly say, "Off with your head!"

Unrealistic demands: The children are giving the King of Great Britain, seen here as Ketchup with a crown of an Onion Ring, their taxes.

Unrealistic demands: The children are giving the King of Great Britain, seen here as Ketchup with a crown of an Onion Ring, their taxes.

"So some brave people left Great Britain on a large ship and came to America. They settled in and created towns. They created a community kind of like the one we live in now. But the King kept saying, 'I don’t care if you are over there or here, I still rule and you still need to give me your pennies. And I have made yet another rule you must follow. And that is no one here tonight can have dessert because you must give it to me!'"

Demonstration: Have the King, um, the ketchup bottle go around and take 2 more pennies. And the dessert, apple pie!

No Taxation Without Representation

"So the people in America, also known as the colonists, were getting upset with the King for making more and more rules and taking more and more of their money, also called taxes. And they wanted their dessert because they are the ones who made it. Why should the King get the apple pie? The apples are from their trees that they grew, picked, and washed. They made the pie, and they should be the ones to eat it, not the King."

No taxation without representation! Colonists upset with the King of Great Britain for taking their pennies and apple pie.

No taxation without representation! Colonists upset with the King of Great Britain for taking their pennies and apple pie.

"With no apple pie and little pennies, the colonists started to get mad. They no longer wanted the King—who was living all the way over in Great Britain or in condiment land—to rule what was happening in their country. So they told the King, errr, Ketchup that they are going to be independent, which means they can take care of themselves and make their own rules. They declared war to get their freedom from Ketchup! But we know that Ketchup is a strong King, and he wouldn't let go that easily. So he sent the forks to fight the colonists."

Demonstration: Line up the spoons as the colonists against the forks as the British. If you have time to prepare, you can draw faces to represent the soldiers.

The Revolutionary War is about to begin. (See how serious my kids are . . .  they are really getting into the story.)  King Ketchup of England is fighting against George Washington, as Relish.

The Revolutionary War is about to begin. (See how serious my kids are . . . they are really getting into the story.) King Ketchup of England is fighting against George Washington, as Relish.

The Revolutionary War Is About to Begin

"The American Revolution was the war that began between the colonists (spoons) and the British (forks). The colonists strongly believed that they should be independent from the Ketchup and fought hard to be free from the king’s rules. Relish, also known as George Washington, became a strong leader to fight against the forks, I mean the British."

Demonstration: Relish telling the spoons what to do and how to best attack the forks. If you have been drinking a lot by this time in your holiday, or if you are extremely eccentric, you can scoop some of the relish onto a spoon and teach the kids how to flick the relish at the forks and ketchup.

The kids will love this part of the demonstration. Note: As a parent, you probably won't, unless, of course, you are drunk or eccentric.  You are the one who has read this, so you can leave this step out if you want to, and they will never know.

The kids will love this part of the demonstration. Note: As a parent, you probably won't, unless, of course, you are drunk or eccentric. You are the one who has read this, so you can leave this step out if you want to, and they will never know.

Ready, aim, fire! George Washington as Relish, supporting the colonists, Spoons, to fight against King Ketchup and the Forks.

Ready, aim, fire! George Washington as Relish, supporting the colonists, Spoons, to fight against King Ketchup and the Forks.

"Relish, George Washington, was the driving force behind organizing and fighting against the British. He was in the trenches with the spoons, um troops, and taught them how to fight. Unlike the King, George, the relish listened to others, even the colonists, and used their ideas to better everyone.

In the end, the war was won by the colonists and Relish! They were no longer told what to do from Ketchup."

Demonstration: The forks and ketchup returning to another part of the table.

"Thomas Jefferson, also seen here as Mustard, wrote down on paper that the colonists in America will no longer be governed by Britain. This very special paper is called the Declaration of Independence."

Demonstration: Using mustard, write the word ‘FREE’ on a napkin. If you bought the extra-large fancy napkin because it was on sale, you can probably write ‘FREEDOM.’

"It was on this very day on July 4, 1776 that America gained its independence from Britain. Now there was no ketchup to tell them what to do. Now they can make and eat their own apple pie. Now they can work hard, and their pennies will not go to a country that they do not even live in.

And that, kids, is how Relish, Mustard, and Spoons gained their freedom from King Ketchup and his Forks.

Happy 4th of July! Let’s eat some pie!"

Thomas Jefferson as Mustard, writing the Declaration of Independence. If you have the big fancy napkin, because you wanted to impress your family and friends this holiday with your tableware, you can write the whole word, "FREEDOM."

Thomas Jefferson as Mustard, writing the Declaration of Independence. If you have the big fancy napkin, because you wanted to impress your family and friends this holiday with your tableware, you can write the whole word, "FREEDOM."

© 2012 Carly Sullens

Comments

Sarah Spradlin from Little Rock, Arkansas on November 30, 2017:

This is so cute... how did you think of this?

Carly Sullens (author) from St. Louis, Missouri on July 05, 2013:

I appreciate all your comments. I was out all day celebrating the 4th of July with my kids and family all day. It is so exciting and special to get HOTD for this hub, because I worked on it with my children. Thank you all for your comments.

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on July 04, 2013:

Hope I'm not too late to say congrats on your HOTD award. Well deserved! Enjoyed reading your very interesting hub. :)

torrilynn on July 04, 2013:

Hi Carly, i think that this is a great way to get kids interested in history and wanting to learn more. Voted up and shared!

Your Cousins from Atlanta, GA on July 04, 2013:

I relish the opportunity to share this creative HOTD, which gives kids a great way to ketchup on their history!

Kawika Chann from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place on July 04, 2013:

Awesome Carly, great delivery and worth becoming a 4th of July family tradition. Congrats on HOTD! Welcome to the HOTD club!! Up/Awe/follow. Peace. Kawi.

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on July 04, 2013:

A fun and neat way to teach some history. Very creative.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on July 04, 2013:

I was curious about this before I even realized that you won HOTD. Congrats! This is a very creative, entertaining, and fun hub on something that would be educational for children here in the USA to learn. I really enjoyed the sprinkles of humor in it!

Great job. Happy 4th of July!

~ Kathryn

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 04, 2013:

Congratulations! Well deserved honor!

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on July 04, 2013:

Congratulations on HOTD and Happy 4th of July from all your friends to the north! I thought this was an awesome idea and story. I totally love your images and the children are so darn cute! Thanks for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

RTalloni on July 04, 2013:

I was expecting this, for sure! Congrats on your Hub of the Day award--how nice that it came right on the 4th so we can highlight it with comments today. Pinned to my Patriotic Holiday/... board.

JR Krishna from India on July 04, 2013:

Congratulations on the hub of the day. It is a fun activity to keep the children engaged.

By doing this they also learn the history of your country in an enjoyable manner and the memory is sure to be retained!

Nancy Owens from USA on July 04, 2013:

Congratulations on having this hub chosen as a Hub of the Day! This is a really fun and creative learning activity that children will remember for years to come.

It is so important, especially in this day and age to remember how we came to be as a nation and to remember the basis of the American Dream.

Musadiq Rahim from Islamabad, Pakistan on July 04, 2013:

A creative way indeed :)

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on July 04, 2013:

Congrats on the Hub Of The Day award! This is indeed a great story telling idea. I love this and I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing.

DEEPA JOHN from Trivandrum, Kerala,India on July 04, 2013:

gReat Idea... keep up the good work

marion langley from The Study on June 26, 2013:

I am very much looking forward to this ketchup relish war this forth of july! Thank-you for writing the catalist to the history lesson this holiday season. :-)

Carly Sullens (author) from St. Louis, Missouri on June 26, 2013:

Thanks Toyasting.

Toy Tasting from Mumbai on June 25, 2013:

Carly, this is awesome. I really like the idea.

Carly Sullens (author) from St. Louis, Missouri on June 25, 2013:

RTalloni, you had me smiling with your comment. We, ate it up too! Even the pie. Glad you liked it. Thank you very much.

RTalloni on June 25, 2013:

Well now, I do believe that is the most creative retelling of how we got the 4th of July as a patriotic holiday that I have ever read. Why, I ate it up! King Ketchup, however, can't hold a candle to your cute kids. :)

Carly Sullens (author) from St. Louis, Missouri on June 25, 2013:

Thank you Rebecca. My kids and I had a lot of fun doing this together.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on June 25, 2013:

REAL cute, and so fresh and original. Thanks for a good share. Shared for the upcoming holiday.

Carly Sullens (author) from St. Louis, Missouri on June 20, 2012:

Thanks Mama Kim 8, I have great ideas for the little ones too...

Sasha Kim on June 20, 2012:

This is great! ^_^ I will re-visit this hub when my kids are a little older.

Carly Sullens (author) from St. Louis, Missouri on June 20, 2012:

Thank you Randomcreative!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 20, 2012:

What a great topic for a hub! I love your ideas and all of the photos that you included.

Andrew on June 20, 2012:

Love it!

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on June 20, 2012:

Yes Love it! It's a great story and your kids are hysterical!!!! :)