Celebrate the Birth of our Nation with Family Fun

July is a great time for family activities. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, we thought it would be fun to focus on life in 18th century America and how Colonial kids passed their days.

The Start of the American Revolutionary War

The battles of Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775, marked the start of the American War of Independence. The British Army, stationed in Boston, was given orders to capture and destroy rebel military supplies that they believed were stored in Concord. About 700 British soldiers marched to Lexington where, as the sun rose, the first shots of the war were fired. At the North Bridge in Concord, the British were forced to retreat by a large group of patriot militiamen.

Read more about this exciting battle. If you visit Boston, be sure to spend time at the Minute Man National Historical Park which runs between Lexington and Concord.

Recreate the “March from Boston to Concord”

Experience the British march by taking your family or friends on a 7-mile hike. The Boulder Creek Path is 7.1 miles and ranked “easy.” Start on the eastern side at Gerald Stazio Softball Fields, off 63rd and Stazio Drive. The western end of the path is up Boulder Canyon Drive.

Remember that the British marched all the way to Concord and then quickly retreated back to Boston under constant fire from the rebel patriots who were hiding behind trees and buildings. If you have the energy, run back to the eastern start of the trail.

Colonial Toys

In 1776 there were no toy factories. Many children and their parents made toys from scraps or leftover things. Dolls were made out of corn husks and scraps of cloth. Boys created imaginary horses with sticks..

Families were usually large, so children often had someone to play with. Just like kids of today, Colonial kids would jump rope, play scotch-hopper (hopscotch), swing, or play on a see-saw. They would play tag, leapfrog, hide-and-seek and have relay races.

Make an Apple-Head Doll

Apple dolls originated in early, rural America.  Make a couple of apple head faces. They will all look different.

Select a large firm apple and peel.  Mix together a solution of 50% salt and 50% lemon juice and coat your apple heads.

Carve out the basic features of a face on one side of the apple. Keep features large and simple.  Coat with lemon juice mixture. Place the heads in a dry location and turn them every 2 days. It will take about two weeks for the faces to shrivel up or dry them on low heat in the oven. When dried and shriveled up, make a body for the head with a small bottle, a toilet paper roll or a paper towel roll as the base.

Make a Whirligig

Draw a 4-inch circle on a piece of cardboard. Cut it out. Make two holes, about 3/8 inches from the center. Thread a 2 ½-foot string in and back through the two holes and tie the end. Hold the string so the disk is in the middle. Twirl the disk until the string is wound up. Then pull both ends away from the disk to make it spin. Continue to pull and relax to keep the Whirligig whirling. You can also substitute a large button for the disk.

Design a Treasure Map and Hunt
A miniature geocaching* activity for kids from 4 and older.

Map-making and make-reading helps kids develop special intelligence.

Make your Treasure Maps:

Draw and color a map of the inside of your house as if you were looking down on it from an airplane. Include as much detail as you can, including: beds, tables, chairs and counters and plants.

Or draw and color the outside of your house including the front yard and the backyard, with all the bushes and trees, as if you were in a hot air balloon, hovering over your house. (You could also use a park or a school yard as your treasure map area.)

Hide and Map the Treasure:

The map maker, or an older family member, hides and marks the treasures depending on who will  search for the treasure. Hide treats throughout the mapped area (like candy, cheese sticks, plastic eggs fill with coins or notes with promises for outings). Mark each of the treasures’ locations on the map with an “X” or a sticky dot.

Learning Map Orientation:

When the hunters get confused, show them how to hold the map. Stand facing a landmark and point to it on the map encouraging them in the direction they should follow.

More Challenging Maps Ideas for Older Kids:

  • Include the cardinal directions drawn correctly on their map.
  • Write out the directions as “20 steps east of the red slide” and use a compass.
  • Use a city maps to draw the route to a friend’s house or your school.
  • Research at geocaching.com and download an app. You will find many treasure hunts in your area including those designed for kids and scouts of all ages.

*Geocaching is a fun, world-wide hide-and-seek activity for families and friends to learn about mapping and geography. Anyone with a GPS or smart phone can search. People hide their cache, usually in metal boxes, with a log book. They use geocaching.com to list the approximate coordinates. Searchers follow the GPS coordinates to find the “treasures.”

See the images from june 2016 mooo news folder.