Holidays

Independence Day Décor + Reading Ideas + a FREE Printable!

Hey friends!

Decorating our home for holidays makes me happy. Slowly but surely over the years I collect bits and pieces for the seasons — there’s still so much more I’d love to do for the outside of our home for those patriotic summer holidays (Bunting! Bunting everywhere!) but for now we have this fun little mantel 🙂

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I had completely forgotten about that Declaration of Independence we had! We got to do it ourselves on an original printing press at a Pioneer Day celebration back when we were newlyweds at BYU, it was pretty neat. And of course we included a French flag! Oldest ally of the United States ♥️

I’m no graphic designer, but I had a specific idea of a print I wanted for my mantel and wasn’t finding something I liked on Pinterest, so I just DIYed it! I think it turned out pretty cool.

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Here it is if you’d like, in Black & White and in Color! They are scaled for 8×10, I printed ours onto craft paper. I don’t usually buy color ink for our printer, but I think the color version is pretty cute too 🙂

with map color

You can add on a heart to your state like I did (I inherited someone’s Stampin’ Up collection so I just used a cute little heart stamp), or have fun coloring in the states you’ve lived in, visited, etc. or just use as-is. And yes, I apologize to Alaska and Hawaii… (PS my version was a bit smaller than 8×10 to account for the red and blue mat I added, resize it smaller when printing if you want to add an edge with craft paper or something.) Enjoy!

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As for how we’re getting the kids ready for celebrating our country’s independence and heritage…

Library books. They are the best. I want to build on our collection as well but the library has been so helpful! We’ve loved Blue Sky White Stars for the gorgeous illustrations and themes it proposes — it’s an easy jumping-off point for several discussions.

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Earlier in the year we read up for black history month (mostly MLK and Rosa Parks for now — this book was one of Adelina’s absolute favorites, she kept asking me to read it! Probably because it has to do with buses… ha! But honestly that series by Brad Meltzer is awesome.) Wow! America! is kind of fun for an exploration of the different parts of the country. Now I’m planning on finding some more kid biographies of George Washington and other founding fathers and beefing up our American history.  I loved the gorgeously-illustrated Walt Whitman: Words for America but it’s definitely a bit mature for younger kids — it’s not too traumatizing or anything in its coverage of the Civil War but it’s just not as exciting for little ones. Honestly, as an adult I adored it. I love Walt Whitman so much.

Speaking of “adult” books, this last year has been the year of Lydia catching up on American history, ha. Top pick: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I can’t recommend it enough. I have to warn you, it is dense and very long. But it is so well-written and absolutely worth the read. It’s a little hard to express the impact this book has had on my personal life. It reshaped how I view this country and its extraordinary history. It renewed my awe of great actors in history, it taught me powerful lessons about ambition, personal integrity, and true leadership. I developed a new love for Abraham Lincoln and gratitude for his service, and for the other good people who gave everything (or close to it) for this country. It unexpectedly caused me to draw frightening parallels with our current political climate. Months after finishing it, it lingers with me. Frequently, I’ll remember passages or quotes from this book in discussions with others — that is how much this book has influenced how I think about current events and personal goals. Truly an extraordinary, uplifting book. And a warning: you know Lincoln dies in the end, but it still breaks your heart.

I also read David McCullough’s 1776, which was excellent but not what I was expecting — I thought it would be the story of the revolutionary war and it was a much narrower look at specifically only the year 1776 and the battles and military tactics (very little if anything of political leadership, the writing of the Declaration of Independence, etc.). Basically, I was expecting America 101, ha. But for what it was, it was great — such a vivid portrait of that year, the truly miraculous victories… and it helped me understand better just how overwhelming the odds were. The scene where he describes the British ships sailing in — and then more, and then more, the sight of ships upon ships upon ships descending upon New York. Wow. It’s extraordinary the blunders that nearly cost us the war — and the blunders on the British side that saved our hides. And then the straight-up miracles like a thick fog that covered armies crossing the Delaware as the sun began to rise, because they were woefully behind schedule — but the British didn’t see them because of the awful storm!

Anyway, if you have any other kids’ books suggestions for little ones around the theme, I’d love to hear them! Now I need to find some good resources for Bastille Day… it’s coming up fast too!

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