Depending on the age of your children, the concept of patriotism can seem intriguing and abstract. Patriotism, like other values, is something children absorb from their families, experiences and community, but that doesn't mean they can't benefit from learning some new ways to display their patriotism. Keep in mind the age of the children when encouraging young kids to show patriotism. A 4 or 5 year old may enjoy coloring a flag with puff-paint on a white T-shirt and wearing it with pride, while a an 11 or 12 year old may find visiting a veterans home to be a more meaningful experience.
Planting flags around your yard or around a local community park around Memorial Day or July 4 is a way for your whole family to demonstrate its patriotism. Young children can be actively involved by inserting the flags into the ground and arranging them along the edge of the lawn. Explain the importance of the flag and how planting them around the community reminds others to take pride in their country. Always check local laws before planting any flags in a community space, and never plant them on someone's property without express permission.
Children love creating and displaying crafts, which makes patriotic-themed crafts an ideal way for kids to show their patriotic feelings. Choose age-appropriate crafts. For example, a preschooler could color inside the lines of an American flag with red, white and blue crayons and hang it in the window of her room. Help her make the outline beforehand so it actually looks like the flag. Older kids can help decorate white frosted cookies with red, white and blue icing and take them to a party or gathering for other children and adults.
Decorating something they already own with a patriotic message allows children to display their love of country, as well. Help older children make outlines of the American flag on a T-shirt or sweatshirt and use fabric markers to color in red, white and blue. Another idea is to help younger children weave red, white and blue streamers through their bicycle spokes. You could even have children who wear braces on their teeth get red, white and blue colored rubber bands at their next orthodontist appointment.
Showing patriotism doesn't have to involve colors or flags. Collecting or sorting items to help military families in need or visiting a veterans hospital can be equally meaningful ways for children to show their love of country and concern for its citizens. Even very young children can help by moving lighter items for a goods drive or participating in a adopt-a-grandparent program at a local veterans home.
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