7 Ways to Turn Kids on to Revolutionary War History

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Updated on Jun 22, 2011

Independence Day is almost here! Bring 18th century America to life for your kids with these fun activities. From colonial cooking lessons to archaeological digs, we've got something for every kid.

1. Authentic Arts and Crafts

Kids are fascinated by the idea of living in earlier times. These hands-on crafts are a terrific way to hook them into learning more about the Revolutionary War.

Check out's special Independence Day page for even more cool activities and crafts!

2. Produce a Skit (and Dress up)

Stage a play based on the Revolutionary War and bring out the thespian in your child. Allow creativity to take center stage by having them create the props and costumes. To pull together period clothing, help them make a simple bonnet or a Pilgrim's hat that can stand in for the era's headdresses.

You can also have them read the Declaration of Independence or act out the events of the Boston Tea Party.

3. Cook Like a Colonist

Go back to a time before food processors with these authentic colonial recipes. Kids can help measure ingredients and even try creaming butter and sugar by hand. Ask them to imagine life without electricity. How would they like living in those times?

You can make several kinds of corn bread, fine confections and molasses cookies.

If you want to make the experience a truly low-tech one, try baking the corn bread in a Dutch oven. You'll need to burn charcoal briquettes in a fire-safe container until the embers are coated with ash. Pour the batter into your seasoned Dutch oven. Remove enough embers to place on the top of the lid. Position the bottom embers in a layer, an inch apart, away from the center of where your oven will go. Place the Dutch oven on the layer of embers. Place embers on the edges of the lid with four on the center of the lid. Bake for 25 minutes. Carefully check the doneness of the bread in the last five minutes.

Note: Use tongs and oven mitts when using a Dutch oven.

4. Go to the Movies

Rent a movie and watch it with your child to ignite the spirit of the Revolutionary War. Some classic productions that are a fun, easy introduction to the period are:

  • Johnny Tremain
  • Walt Disney Treasures - Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow
  • Liberty's Kids: Complete Series
  • John Adams, an HBO Miniseries
  • David Crockett

5. Stage an Archaeological Dig

Delve into the past with your child with a mock dig. Collect a few items from a thrift store or from your old belongings such as:

  • Old cutlery
  • Pieces of fabric
  • Wooden ladles or spoons
  • A piece of jewelry
  • Wooden toys

Find a spot in your yard and lay down potting soil. Mix in the 'artifacts' and sprinkle more soil to cover well. Then arm your archaeologists (invite a friend to dig) with beach shovels, paint brushes and collecting containers. When they find an item, have them brush off the soil and display in a table. Create a story about the owner of the belongings in that period. It may help to have a working story as you gather your items and then improvise. Ask the children what they think about what they discovered.

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