Happy Birthday, America! “Family Reunion, Fireworks, Fourth of July”

2014-07-02 22.30.21

” . . . a happy, hometown Independence Day celebration with all the trimmings.”

I’ve always wanted to watch the fireworks with family and friends while floating in a boat on a lake. I think that’s one reason why this book appeals to me since that’s how it ends. I also grew up away from all my extended family, so summer provided a “family reunion” of sorts when we drove from Virginia to Ohio to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Many of us can relate to those summer reunions and “happy, hometown Independence Day celebrations” that this book captures, leaving us with a nostalgic feeling.

Introducing Our Featured Friend: Happy Birthday, America!
By Marsha Wilson Chall, Illustrated by Guy Portfirio

Cousin Jean calls first thing in the morning. “Guess what?” she says.
“The corn’s knee high, it’s the Fourth of July!” As if we didn’t know what day it is!  . . .
For a whole week now I’ve been practicing names. I even sent my school picture to Great-aunt Lucille; last year she thought I was a guest.”

Thus begins this family’s reunion with all the relatives enjoying the the horseshoe pit, parades, bike rides, patriotic songs, red, white and blue Jell-O shaped like the United States, lemonade, swimming races, watermelon seed spitting contest, fireworks, and sparklers.

Marsha Wilson Chall captures the fun of family and the spirit of July 4th with her vivid language, painting pictures in our minds. While stepping into this families’ traditions, we can get ideas to include in our own celebration. My favorite part is the ending with the family watching the fireworks from their boat on the lake:

“Oooooh,” we sigh together.
“It’s a spider,” Todd yells.
“An octopus,” says Janie.
“A chrysanthemum,” Great-grandma whispers.

Ba-BANG! The sky thunders. The sound pours into the lake and laps at our boat. . . . Pinwheels, feathers, volcanoes and rockets, dragons, and fire flakes.  . . .
“What did you think?” Grandpa asks, then answers himself, like always.
“Best I’ve ever seen.”

We hold our sparklers up like candles, count one, two, three, then yell,
“Happy Birthday, America!” across the water.”

Inviting You to Become FRIENDS with Happy Birthday, America!
Feel, Relate, Imagine, Explore, Navigate, Develop, Share

F- Here’s something fun to feel for the Fourth of July: STAR SPANGLED SLIME
http://www.icanteachmychild.com/star-spangled-slime/ Reposted on Toddler Approved.
This looks like so much fun to play with! What a neat activity from I Can Teach My Child!!10401968_674911479223844_7983502945301628746_n[1]

R- After reading about this family’s reunion, think about the times you get together with your extended family and share what parts you can relate to.

I- While you watch fireworks this year, imagine different animals, plants, and other cool things that the shapes and colors make.

E- Explore July 4th facts like: how and where fireworks were first invented, recipes often made for picnics and parties, and so forth.

N- Navigate (lay the course) areas for different games for family and friends to play with you: horse-shoes, watermelon seed spitting contest, races, and other ideas from the story.

D- Develop a drawing or poem of what you saw in the fireworks display, such as “a spider, octopus, rocket, and dragon”. This keeps the fun going following the fourth.

S- Share your favorite part of the story and tell why you like it.

2014-07-03 15.44.26

“The corn’s knee high, it’s the Fourth of July!”


2014-07-02 22.33.13

“We hold our sparklers up like candles, count one, two, three, then yell, ‘Happy Birthday, America!’ across the water.”

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