Still looking for fun ideas for the 4th of July holiday? The folks at Common Sense Media found some surefire wins for the whole family, from an Independence Day-themed movie night to a read-loud book club and beyond. We encourage you to get the kids outside, but as you’re mapping out your weekend, you don’t have to ban screens entirely. Not only do they offer entertainment, but they can also offer loads of learning opportunities. Set reasonable limits that allow for family time and other important activities, and incorporate media and tech in ways that bring the family together.
Plan a scavenger hunt
Kids love scavenger hunts, and there are plenty of ways to make them interactive (and even lesson-packed). Turn little adventure seekers into budding botanists using an app like Project Noah to identify plants, map a hunt at the local library to take a tour through kids’ literature, or give geocaching a try to uncover secret treasures near and far.
Jot it down
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Summer’s really just started. What’s on your kid’s bucket list? Whether it’s a trip to the beach, a day at the museum, mastering “Minecraft,” or planning a sleepover, encourage your kids to start a journal. Throughout the summer, they can track their memories and document their days with pictures and memories. You can even try a digital one like Me, by Tinybop for techy-minded kids.
Set your sights on stargazing
After the smoke clears from your neighborhood fireworks display, keep kids’ eyes pointed skyward. Download an astronomy app (try NASA app or The Night Sky) and see how many constellations — and maybe even a planet or two — the kids can spot.
Have a historical book club
A family book club is a really fun way to connect with the kids and get the most out of reading. For young kids, you can read aloud to a book about the American Revolution. Try Lynn Cullen’s “Dear Mr. Washington” or “Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies,” by Cokie Roberts. More advanced readers will love “Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America” and Gary Paulsen’ “Woods Runner.” Connect after every chapter to talk about the characters and the real-life events that inspired the story.
Make some grub together
Find culinary inspiration in a kid-friendly cooking show like “Masterchef Jr.” or try your hand at a cooking game. (Toca Boca makes some great ones.) Help kids plan a 4th of July menu and work together as a team in the kitchen. Do your kids have a favorite picnic food? Task them with taste-testing, or if they’re old enough give them controls to the kitchen (if you dare). End-cap by enjoying a #DeviceFreeDinner as a family.
Outdoor movie night
Transform your backyard into a movie theater with a projector and a bed sheet, and pick an American history fave like “Gone With the Wind” or “Forrest Gump.” If you have teens, maybe opt for an action-packed (and so festive!) flick like “Independence Day” to really ring in the red, white, and blue weekend. Create a cozy space to recline, pass the popcorn, and voila: instant blockbuster with the fam.
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.