The Fourth of July is full of fun with hot dogs, swimming, seeing friends and family, and taking a break from work, school or other commitments — and the questions below are sure to make a good time even better.
This Americana trivia will have both adults and kids smiling, learning and enjoying the holiday in a fuller way than before.
What’s more, kids will love surprising their grownup family members with a new understanding of America’s birthday.
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So let’s dig right in …
What came first, the start of the American Revolution or the Declaration of Independence?
The American Revolution, which formally began with the “shot heard ‘round the world” on April 19, 1775.
America had been fighting the British for more than a year when the Declaration of Independence was written and approved.
For kids: To understand how the American Revolution and Declaration of Independence are different, think of it as kids throwing a temper tantrum for a few minutes before they write a long letter telling their parents why they’re actually upset.
(Well, parents are a lot nicer than King George, as one Florida mom believes — and it’s not exactly parallel, as colonists had long been communicating their discontent to the crown in response to its injustices. Still, this might help kids understand the difference between the two events.)
Why did John Adams think July 2nd should be known as America’s Independence Day?
On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee, a member of the Second Continental Congress from Virginia, made a motion declaring “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
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In case the Second Continental Congress approved the resolution, Congress created the “Committee of Five” (John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman) to propose language that would provide the rationale for independence.
While Congress approved the June 7th resolution on July 2, it took two more days for the Declaration of Independence as we know it to be edited and ratified.
The purpose of it wasn’t just to tell the King of England what Congress thought; Congress was also explaining its reasoning to the people.
Ask kids: On July 4, we remember some of the most important people who contributed to our country’s independence.
Who are the five most important people in your life who are helping you grow in your independence?
Which two presidents died on July 4th?
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. They died on the same day in 1826.
Amazingly, 50 years earlier to the day, they were together persuading Congress to ratify America’s Declaration of Independence.
At the age of 90, Adams lay on his deathbed while the country celebrated Independence Day. His last words were, “Thomas Jefferson still survives.”
He was wrong: Jefferson had died hours earlier at Monticello at the age of 83.
Adams and Jefferson started as fellow patriots and friends, then became enemies and disagreed frequently with one another on the type of government they thought America should have.
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For many years, they even stopped talking to each other.
Finally, they realized they respected each other and resumed their friendship by writing kind letters to one another.
Ask kids: Who is a friend you respect?
This person may not be your best friend or the person you spend the most time with, but who is someone with whom you can disagree and still find ways to play together?
When was the Declaration of Independence actually signed?
Yet another trick question! Most people think it’s the 4th, but that’s just its ratification day. It was also not a unanimous declaration until July 9.
John Hancock, the president of the Second Continental Congress, was the first to put his now-famous signature on the document almost a month later on Aug. 2, 1776.
Not all signers signed that day because they were not in Philadelphia, and not all members of the Continental Congress chose to sign.
It was a bold and brave move for the 56 men who did — for in signing their names to the Declaration of Independence, they committed treason against Great Britain, the penalty for which was death.
Parents can also tell the kids to print the Declaration of Independence and try reading it aloud, even if it’s just the first paragraph.
Ask kids: It’s one thing to tell your mom and dad you’ll do something, but it’s another thing to write them a note (or draw them a picture) that says you’ll promise to do it.
What is one thing you think or feel strongly about today — and how can you show you really mean it?
Parents can also tell the kids to print the Declaration of Independence and try reading it aloud, even if they read just the first paragraph.
Then talk about what it means and ask your kids if they agree.
If so, ask them to sign their names on the paper.
Keep it and frame it for next year’s 4th of July décor!
See how kids’ handwriting changes — yet the concepts of America’s guiding document don’t change.
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