By: Beth Bellor

Do your children know the meaning of Independence Day?

Most of them don’t have school this time of year to drill the history into their heads like they do around other holidays. Sure, they’ve been told about the history of the Fourth of July, but by the time it rolls around they’re more likely focusing on parades, parties, and fireworks instead of the modern day significance of Independence Day.

Here are a few ways to teach the young’uns a thing or two about this day.

* FLY AN AMERICAN FLAG. Do you have one? If not, go get one and make sure to follow proper flag etiquette. You can learn more here.

* THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.  Has your child read it?  You can click on the pic for the text.

* SHOW APPRECIATION.  If you see someone in a military uniform, go up to him or her and say, “thank you”. It doesn’t matter what holiday it is, they still appreciate it. Vietnam veterans sometimes are especially grateful to be thanked now; does your child know why?

* SHOW YOU CARE.  Visit a veterans hospital or medical facility. You can find some listed in this guide. Even if you can’t arrange a visit, you can make cards and write letters to be distributed to veterans who have no family or friends nearby.

* SING A SONG. You probably know the national anthem by heart – and, no, the last two words aren’t “Play ball!” Did you know there are four verses? You can find them here along with a sound clip and some of the history of the poem that became the lyrics.

* DIG A LITTLE DEEPER. Do you live near a military base? Is there a reserve or National Guard unit based near you? Are they deployed right now? If the answer to any of those is yes, find out together what kind of work they do. You might be surprised to learn it is something like water filtration.

The Fourth of July doesn’t have to be a series of history lessons, but doing one or two of these things will help your children appreciate the sacrifices our forefathers made and others continue to make for them. Again, lead by example – when you are respectful and grateful, they’ll be more likely to follow. It’s a great conversation to have when you are waiting for the sparklers and hot dogs!

What other ideas do you have? Does your family have Independence Day traditions?

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Beth Bellor is a journalist living in Michigan. She grew up in Kentucky (go Cats!), has been married 23 years and has a 19-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter. You also can find her on Twitter @bethbellor and at