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What is Liberty?

What is Liberty? Activity

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On the 4th of July, Americans take time to celebrate the many meanings of national independence. For kids, the day is often an exciting time of parades, barbecues and fireworks. But those abstract concepts like “liberty” and "nation" can be tough to grasp!

Here’s a poster project that your child can make as she explores the meaning of this day. This is something she can do by herself, but it is also a fun project for several kids to do together so that they can talk about their different ideas and inspirations. The finished project will make a great Fourth of July decoration, especially if you have more than one to display in your home!

What You Need:

  • Several sheets from a recent newspaper, emphasizing printed words rather than pictures.
  • Large sheet of white construction paper (12x18”)
  • Watercolor paint
  • Black markers
  • Tempera paint
  • Brushes
  • Water

What You Do:

  1. In this art project, your child will take a famous American symbol, the Statue of Liberty, and make it relevant and personal by creating something that is meaningful to her.
  2. To start, cut out an 8x10" piece of newsprint from a recent newspaper on which there are no photographs, only text. On it, have your child use pencil and black markers to draw a picture of her own head and shoulders, topped with a Statue of Liberty crown.
  3. Have your child color her portrait using tempera paints, mixed to match her own coloring. Don’t worry if some of the print shows through—that’s part of the charm!
  4. Lay the portrait aside to dry.
  5. As the portrait dries, consider reading the famous poem that Emma Lazarus wrote (see below), which is inscribed at the base of the Statue. You can also read Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous "Four Freedoms" speech with your child.
  6. Allow the portrait to dry, and then have your child cut around it with scissors. Place the portrait in the center of the white sheet of construction paper, and divide the background into four quadrants. Your child will use the four corners of her picture to display anything she likes—the four corners of the earth; east, west, north, south; President Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms;" different symbols that represent America for your child, etc.
  7. Invite your child to sketch with a pencil four pictures that represent freedom with meanings that are important to her in the celebration of our nation. Your child might draw mountains in the summer, or her house and neighborhood, or symbol’s from your family’s heritage. The possibilities are endless. What’s important is that your child thinks about and shows what freedom means to her.
  8. Once she has sketched her pictures, have her paint the pictures with watercolor paint. Make sure your brush does not have any tempera paint on it.
  9. Give your child plenty of time for this fun and engaging art project. This is a great project for the whole family to do together also. And for young learners, this is also a great way to explore complex ideas that are part of the fabric of our nation.

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. "Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Franklin D. Roosevelt's Four Freedoms:

  1. Freedom of Speech and Expression
  2. Freedom of Religion
  3. Freedom from Want
  4. Freedom from Fear

These "Four Freedoms" are from a famous address to Congress given by President Roosevelt on January 6th, 1941 in a speech called "The Four Freedoms." A copy of the entire speech can be found on the internet.

Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school history and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.

Updated on Jun 19, 2013
Printable Workbooks from Education.com
Find a printable workbook to go along with this fun activity. See Workbooks
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