Talking About Independence Day

Talking About Independence Day

Purpose:  To give learners cultural and historical information about the July 4th holiday.  In addition, fireworks can be frightening for people who’ve fled war or other violent situations in their homelands.  Understanding what fireworks are and what the holiday is about may help reduce stress or anxiety.  

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Materials:  A calendar to situate the holiday, pictures of celebrations, parades, picnics and fireworks, an American flag or picture of one, a recording of the national anthem, related items that are meaningful to you.  Look for images that reflect the diversity of the U.S. population.  See attached word searches for vocabulary practice.

Prep:  Make a list of vocabulary related to the holiday.  Plan on asking the students what they know first, then adding to the list, using realia and/or photos to help illustrate new words.  If you decide to use the word searches, plan to introduce those words.


  1. Ask your student(s) if they know what holiday is coming up.  Have a conversation around the following questions and write vocabulary words on the board as they come up.

What is the fourth of July? 

Why do we celebrate this holiday?

Do you celebrate Independence Day in your country?  When and how?

How do Americans celebrate the 4th of July?

What are your plans for the 4th of July?  Practice the future tense!

  1. Practice pronouncing the vocabulary words and work together to write sentences using each word or several of the words in the same sentence.
  2. Put the sentences in sequence so that they form a story.  Depending on the level of the student, ask them to practice reading the story aloud with a partner or read it together as a group.  Don’t forget to give the story a title.
  3. A number of activities could be used as follow-up:  a fill-in-the-blank of the story, a dictation, or a sequencing activity.


  • Play the national anthem several times and ask learners if they recognize any words and if they recognize the melody.  You could ask them to listen for specific words that you think they might know and that you would review ahead of time: see, light, proudly, night, flag, free, home, brave.  Tell them to listen for the anthem during the 2008 Summer Olympics.  Ask them about their anthems.
  • Ask learners to attend a 4th of July activity and report back to the group or write about it (practice the past tense).
  • Look at maps and figure out how to get to a parade or fireworks display.
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