Parades and pyrotechnics with a heaping helping of patriotism mark 4th festivities

Across the U.S., in small towns and large, beaches and cordoned-off streets, parks and camprounds, family and friends will gather this July 4 to watch parades, reunite for news and hugs, and marvel at fireworks. With sizzling grills and open hearts, we will celebrate some of the best and most joyful traditions our nation offers. Why not thread a little history into the party?

In the U.S. the Fourth of July has been a federal holiday since 1941, but the tradition dates back to the American Revolution when delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson. The website history.com notes that John Adams until his death believed the nation’s birthday should really be July 2, the day a majority vote in favor of independence. In an unbelievably odd coincidence, both former presidents died on July 4,1826, our country’s 50th anniversary.

Speaking of former presidents, this star-spangled holiday is a most-excellent opportunity to quiz yourself (and everyone around!) with the name and order of U.S. presidents using the new Presidents Flash Cards available on the Anywhere Teacher learning destination website. Learn amusing and important facts about all 51 presidents. Who was oldest? Tallest? Longest-serving? Discover their achievements and mistakes. Getting to know our nation’s leaders helps create smart citizens.

Or map out some made-in-the-USA fun with State of Confusion, an app available for iOS, Android, Mac, ad Windows platforms. It will inspire a love for and knowledge of our United States of America, while promoting social studies success! Start off learning key facts about the 50 states, including state capitals, state abbreviations, state flowers, state birds, state flags, and state nicknames. Next, put together a USA puzzle—a perfect game to learn state names, the location of each state, and which states are next to each other. Finally, test learning by selecting Quiz mode. This is a great app for both kids and grown-ups. Geography, memory and visual perception skills get a vigorous work-out!

For a super special (and fairly simple) celebratory treat, try Betty Crocker’s snappy-looking looking Firecracker Red, White, and Blue (bundt) Cake  or this beautiful No-Bake Cheesecake Flag Cake with strawberries and blueberries from Allrecipes.com.

No matter how you slice it, the 4th is an excellent time to pause and celebrate the fun and freedoms we enjoy in the United States and acknowledge a little bit of the history and hard work behind them.