20+ Fun 4th of July Activities for the Whole Family
How to make it:
- Print our Straw-Spangled Wreath template for the center on card stock. Cut out the circle, then trace it twice on corrugated cardboard. Cut out both circles.
- Make several rings of tacky glue on one cardboard circle and attach striped paper straws, alternating red and blue and leaving 2 inches of space in the center. Thread a 1-inch straw piece onto a long length of fishing line or string and knot the ends. Attach the straw piece with tacky glue to the center of the cardboard circle.
- Add rings of glue over the straws and gently press on the other cardboard circle. Let the glue dry.
- With a glue stick, attach the card stock center. Trim the straws to different lengths as shown. Hang with the fishing line.
United We Stand Game
A steady hand leads to success in this carnival-inspired challenge, in which players try to set a bottle upright using a ring on a string.
How to set it up: Use red and blue washi or decorative tape to embellish two 18-inch wooden dowels (we cut a 3-foot dowel in half), 2 cleaned and dried plastic bottles (we used 12-ounce soda bottles) and both rings of a 3-inch embroidery hoop. Use one color for each 3-piece set. Tie each hoop to its matching dowel with a 28-inch length of string. Place 1/2 cup rice in each of 2 ziplock bags. Add 12 drops red food coloring to one, blue to the other. Seal each bag and shake until the rice is evenly tinted. Snip off a corner of each bag and funnel the rice into its matching bottle. Screw on the caps.
How to play: Mark spaces on a flat playing surface with child-size hula hoops or use chalk to draw two 24-inch circles. Lay a bottle in the center of each. At "Go," players use their rods to right their bottles. If a player's bottle rolls out of the circle, he must retrieve it and start over. The first to stand his bottle up wins.
- RELATED: More July 4th Craft Ideas
Mini Marching Drum
Join the big parade or stomp around the backyard to the beat of this recycled coffee can.
How to make the drum: Trace a 10 1/2-inch circle on a Tyvek sheet (we used a mailing envelope) and cut it out. Lay the circle over the open end of a 27.8-ounce coffee can. Secure it about 2 inches from the rim with rubber bands. Pull the Tyvek taut and trim the excess. Use strips of clear tape to hold the Tyvek in place and remove the rubber bands. Cover the edges of the Tyvek with colored duct tape, using a single strip around the perimeter of the can. Use more duct tape to embellish the rest of the can. Measure and cut a length of ribbon for the neck strap and knot its ends. Tape the ribbon ends (just above the knots) to the side of the drum.
How to make the mallet: Cut the neck from a 12-inch balloon. Stuff the remaining piece with half a paper towel sheet. Squeeze a bit of white glue into the balloon and insert the tapered end of a chopstick. Secure it with a strip of duct tape and let it dry.
Star Spangled Wind Socks
Hats Off to America
Set up a crafting station where kids can turn plastic cups into custom caps, and creative sparks are sure to fly. Along with 18-ounce disposable cups, we put out sparkly pipe cleaners, pom-poms, card stock, glue dots, tacky glue, and tape. If you like, you can print our templates for brims.
To keep hats on heads, cut 18-inch lengths of elastic beading cord and knot the ends. Use duct tape to secure the ends, just below the knots, to the inside of the cups.
Sweet & Salty Sparklers
Layered with white chocolate and studded with sprinkles and M&M's, our pretzel treats add flare to any party spread.
How to make them: Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips in a medium, heat-safe bowl according to the package directions. Use a spoon to drizzle 1 pretzel rod at a time with chocolate (you'll have enough chocolate to make a dozen), then lay the rod on the prepared sheet and scatter it with red and blue sprinkles and M&M's. Chill the pretzels in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets, about 15 minutes.
- RELATED: 4th of July Dessert Recipes
Red, White & Cool Cubes
Tricolored spritzers offer a refreshing way to celebrate the Fourth. Make several trays of ice cubes with beverages colored red, white, and blue (we used cranberry juice, water, and Powerade Mountain Berry Blast). To serve, place the cubes in separate buckets and let guests make their own drinks with plain seltzer.
Air Mail Ballots
The votes are in, and this simple flying disk game is a runaway winner. Cut a 5- by 13-inch rectangle into a cardboard box as shown (an adult's job). You'll want a box that's at least 18 x 18 x 24 inches. Cut another rectangle on the opposite side of the box for retrieving the flying disks. Seal the box with tape, then attach card stock and scrapbook paper decorations with glue dots.
How to play: Designate a throwing line and give each participant three tries to toss a heavy-duty plastic plate or flying disk into the slot. The first player to score an agreed-upon number wins.
Fourth of July Confetti Popper
This reusable popper lets you launch paper "fireworks" during Fourth of July parades and barbecues — or wherever confetti is needed.
How to make it:
- Cut the top 2½ to 3 inches from a clean plastic bottle and discard the rest.
- Cover the cut edge with tape.
- Stretch the mouth of a party balloon over the bottle's opening. Work the neck of the balloon over the threads of the bottleneck, as shown at right.
- Cut paper into confetti, then pour the pieces into the popper.
- Hold onto the bottleneck with one hand, and pull down on the bottom of the balloon with the other. Let the balloon snap to launch a shower of confetti.
July 4th Confetti Popper
A Star-Spangled Yard
Give your lawn some flour power this Fourth of July with a simple stencil and a dusting of flour. Draw a star shape on cardboard and cut it out. Lay this stencil on the lawn and spray the grass with water from a spray bottle. Leaving the stencil in place, use a flour sifter to cover the damp star shape with flour. Remove the stencil and repeat to fill your yard with a galaxy of stars.
Stately Striped Wreath
Tufts of tulle are the secret behind this easy-to-make door decoration.
How to make it: Cut 35 strips each of red and white tulle that measure about 6 by 15 inches (we started with a 2 1/4-yard piece of 54-inch-wide tulle in each color). Alternating colors every five lengths, knot the tulle strips around a 12-inch wire wreath form (A and B). Line up the knots so that they're even, then fluff the ends. Curl an 8-foot length of blue star garland by winding it around a marker. Tie the garland in two circles to the middle of the wreath with small pieces of tulle.
All-American Bandanna Garland and Place Mats
How to make the place mat: For each place mat, apply a thin, 2-inch-wide strip of tacky glue across the center of a cloth place mat (ours is 19" x 14"). Press a white bandanna into place on top, then attach the rest with more glue; trim excess. Measure and cut three 2-inch-wide strips of red bandanna and glue them to the mat. Add a 6-inch square of blue bandanna to the top left corner. Clean with a damp cloth, as needed.
How to make the garland: For a 12 1/2-foot garland, cut one red, one blue, and one white bandanna into four equal squares. Following the diagram, fold each square as shown, then iron the folds to crease them. Secure the two long folds with glue dots, then fold the remaining flap over a 12 1/2-foot-long ribbon and secure the flap with more glue dots.
Ideas by Kristin Harrison
Lady Liberty Crown
No glue is needed for our cleverly designed head-piece made from craft foam and a headband. Just trace our Lady Liberty Crown template on a 12- by 18-inch sheet of green craft foam and cut it out. Make a slit at the base of each spike where noted on the template, then thread the spikes through the openings as shown. Slide the spikes onto a thin plastic headband.
Idea by Lynn Zimmerman
Create simple quacking noisemakers, and the kids can be all abuzz at the parade.
How to make it: First, snip two 1 1/4-inch lengths from a plastic drinking straw. Stretch a wide rubber band lengthwise around a jumbo craft stick. Slide one straw piece beneath the rubber band 1 1/4 inches from one end. Lay the other straw piece on top of the rubber band 1 1/4 inches from the opposite end, as shown, then sandwich it with another craft stick. Secure the sticks with more rubber bands. Embellish the noisemaker with stickers if you like.
Partygoers will have a blast playing this classic carnival game made from recycled metal cans and homemade "rockets."
How to set it up: For the cans, adhere strips of red, white, and blue duct tape to six clean, empty 15-ounce metal cans, covering any sharp edges. For thinner lines, simply overlap the tape. To make the rockets, use a funnel to fill three small socks with rice (we used about 1/2 cup in each) and tie them off with a hair tie or a rubber band. Thread a 3-foot length of sheer ribbon through each tie and knot it in the center to secure it.
How to play: Arrange the cans in a pyramid. Standing several feet away, each player gets three tries to knock down all the cans with the rockets.
Popcorn Cones for Crackerjack Kids
Serve up a delicious homemade version of good old Cracker Jack in easy-to-grab holders. To make each, roll a sheet of scrapbook paper into a cone shape, securing the seam with double-sided tape. Attach "Surprise Inside" labels with more tape. Hide a small trinket inside.
A Hangout to Hang Up
This color-happy tent offers a perfect space for chilling out and goofing off. Hang lengths of paper streamers over a straight, low branch or clothesline. Tie the streamers' ends to stakes or broomsticks laid on the ground. Outfit the tent with a comfy blanket, pillows, and paper party decorations.
Say it loud and proud in giant sequins. Paint styrofoam letters with acrylic paint (match the colors to your sequins' shades). Use pins to attach giant sequins in overlapping rows, starting at the bottom of each letter and working up.
Frosty Fruit Rings
For a cooling healthy treat, save the plastic parts from ring lollipops (or buy a bag and dissolve the candy by soaking it in hot water for around 90 minutes). Use cookie cutters to shape sliced fruit, insert a ring's stem into each shape, then freeze. For an ice-pop version, fill ice trays or candy molds with juice. When a frozen layer has formed (after about 15 minutes), insert a ring's stem in each cube and freeze them for a few hours.
For fun fireworks, cover a table with kraft paper or drawing paper (the kind that comes on a roll). Tape 7 bendable straws together with their ends arranged into a starburst. Spread washable red and blue paint on paper plates, then dip and stamp the starburst onto the paper. When the first color is dry, add the second color.
To create these toppers, wrap plastic headbands with pipe cleaners. For each star, accordion-fold a pipe cleaner into 10 equal segments, then unfold and shape it. Attach it to the headband with another pipe cleaner, trimming as needed.
A Doggie Doodle Dandy
To dress your canine for Independence Day, cut the collar off an old shirt (be sure it's big enough to button around your dog's neck). With fabric paint and a brush, add stripes. Fold a 2 1/2- by 4-inch card stock rectangle accordion-style and wrap the center with a pipe cleaner. Button the collar onto your dog's neck, then attach the bow with the pipe cleaner ends.
Bike Decoration Station
Set up a table and invite guests to give their cycles an extreme makeover. Show off your handiwork to the whole town in the July 4th parade or just head out for a rowdy group ride on the nearest bike trail.
The supplies: Crepe paper streamer; Card stock or craft foam stars; Zip ties; Small flags; Surveyor's tape (also called flagging tape); Curling ribbon; Tulle ribbon; Sparkly garland wire; Balloons
Decorating tips: Weave crepe paper streamers or place stars between spokes. To decorate handlebars, use zip ties to attach stars and flags and tassels made from lengths of surveyor's tape or ribbon, tied at one end. Add decorative garland wire as desired. Tie a balloon to the rear fender, leaving a few inches of slack so that it flies behind when the bike is in motion.
Safety Note: An adult should supervise decorating and ensure that no object impedes the bike's moving parts, interferes with a biker's vision, or otherwise compromises safety.