Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Exploring North American Independence With Montessori Activities

NAMC montessori activities north american independence american flag
Even though I don’t teach during the summer when it would seem most likely to teach Montessori students about US Independence Day, every year it seems to find its way into our year. Students often associate US Independence Day with fireworks, picnics and popsicles. This association is helpful when you are teaching American History and need to reference Independence Day. I've had parents tell me that something that was said in the classroom about the holiday made its way into the conversation the following July at the family picnic.

North America has distinct summer Independence Day celebrations that are the perfect time to get students learning with interesting activities.

Exploring North American Independence With Montessori Activities

US Independence Day, July 4

Independence Day in the United States celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia. On that day, the Declaration was read aloud, bells were rung, and bands performed music. In 1941, it was finally declared a legal US holiday. Today, this national holiday is a day of picnics, parades, speeches, and fireworks.

The US Declaration of Independence is one of the country’s most important documents. It was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, and signed by representatives of all 13 states that comprised the country at that time. It signifies the breaking of ties to Britain, “the mother country” and marks the independence of the colonies. A famous line of the US Declaration of Independence is as follows: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
NAMC montessori activities north american independence canada day family
Canada Day, July 1
On July 1, Canada celebrates its own national holiday marking the country’s independence. Canada Day (formerly known as Dominion Day) commemorates the adoption of the British North America Act on July 1, 1867, which was renamed the Constitution Act in 1982, and sets the foundation for the Canadian Constitution. This act created the Canadian federal government and united Canada as country (with four provinces.) Canadians celebrate Canada Day for similar reasons and in many of the same ways that US Independence Day is celebrated.

Activities for the Montessori Student
Kids will have a blast making red, white, and blue layered gelatin squares. Here is the recipe for Red, White and Blue Finger Jello. What other red, white, and blue food can you think of?

A Blueberry Flan (or substitute raspberries for the blueberries...or use both!) would be an appropriate dish for either country’s independence day. Your Montessori students would enjoy both the cooking process and tasting the final product! Try finding a pick your own blueberry/raspberry patch for a lesson in botany, ecosystems, and local food.

What is independence? Use this to explore the ideas of freedom and peace with Montessori elementary students. For what can we be thankful in our countries? Older elementary students may be interested in exploring colonization and the perspectives from both sides.

Study the history of the US Declaration of Independence and/or the Canadian Constitution Act with your students. Invite students to explore new ideas for celebrating US Independence Day and/or Canada Day, based on what they learn. Possible Extension to this activity: compare the similarities and differences between the histories of US Declaration of Independence and the Canadian Constitution Act.

Study the concept of immigration to the US and/or Canada, with a view to exploring citizenship – what it means, and why immigrants sometimes choose to become citizens of their new country. Find out if any of your students are children of immigrants, and celebrate the inclusion of immigrants in your Independence Day or Canada Day activities by embracing some of their customs as part of your celebration.

Books for the Montessori Classroom
  • Independence Day, by Trudi Strain Trueit (Rookie Read-Aloud Holidays series)
  • Independence Day, by Helen Frost (National Holidays series)
  • Independence Day, by Nancy Sanders (True Books series)
  • Give Me Liberty: The Story of the Declaration of Independence, by Russell Freedman
  • Canada Day, by Patricia Murphy (Rookie Read-Aloud Holidays series)
  • Canada Day, by Molly Aloian (Celebrations in My World series)
  • Let’s Celebrate: Canada’s Special Days, by Caroline Parry
  • Mexican Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo, by Dianne MacMillan (Best Holiday Books series)
Web resources
NAMC's Upper Elementary US History and Canadian History manuals offer many activities for the Montessori classroom.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, June 30, 2009.

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