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By Chrysta Naron

I love glitter. Like seriously, l LOVE glitter. In my classroom there’s almost always a reason to add a little sparkle to our learning experiences. And because kids love glitter, too, I’ve developed a great Fourth of July reading activity that incorporates loads of it. We’re going to learn our letters with the sparkliest way of celebrating the Fourth—fireworks!

For an extra learning boost (and extra fun), we’ll add in my favorite Fourth of July book, Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong. This book features a young girl, the children of Chinese immigrants. She spends the day working in her parents’ store instead of at the parade, and eating noodles instead of apple pie. Feeling like her parents don’t understand what it means to be American and to celebrate the Fourth, she becomes downcast. But soon enough she learns that there’s no right way to be American, and not one way to celebrate, either.

In this fun Fourth of July firework craft for kids, we’re going to focus on reading what are called consonant-vowel-consonant words, or CVC words. CVC words are words like mad or big. They’re easy to sound out for early readers, and children are often familiar with them. CVC words are a big part of learning to read, and this craft gives young readers a fun way to interact with them.

Materials:

  • Glitter
  • Kids paint (one color or multiple)
  • Plate(s) (to hold the paint)
  • Paper towel / toilet paper tube(s)
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • Paper

Cost: $5-$10 for glitter and paint (or free if you have them on hand!)

Kick off your Fourth of July firework craft with story time: Read Apple Pie 4th of July together (or any Fourth of July book that mentions fireworks!). This is a great opportunity to talk about the ways your family celebrates and ways that other families might celebrate. You can also take a moment at the end to admire the firework illustrations. They’ll make great inspiration for our craft!

Apple Pie 4th of July book cover

Step 1: Write out a selection of around eight CVC words on a piece of paper. Choose some words that use the same letters, to challenge your child to pick the right word among multiple similar options. For example, fin and fun or cat and cut. See the picture for more examples.

Step 2: Cut slits into the ends of the toilet paper tube, sort of like the petals of a flower, then bend the slits outwards, so they splay open. Now you have your classic fireworks shape! Use more than one tube if you’d like to use multiple colors of paint.

Step 3: Squeeze out some paint onto your plate (or plates if you’re using more than one color). I typically choose red or blue, but fireworks come in almost every color, so feel free to be as playful as you like!

Step 4: Have your child press the toilet paper tube into the paint. Make sure to cover as much of the slits in paint as possible. Squish it around!

Step 5: Call out words that are written on the paper. Have your child take the time to sound out the words and find the right one. Then they can stamp the word with their firework!

Step 6: When they’ve found all the words, it’s time to pour on the glitter. You can use a little or a lot! (I tend to vote for a lot.) The paint acts as glue and keeps the glitter in place. 

Then tilt the paper and let the excess glitter slide off. Ta da! You’ve got a star-spangled spelling lesson!

What I love about this activity (aside from the glitter) is that it scales really well. Whether you’re doing it with one child, in a small group, or with a whole party, you can do this craft! For children who might struggle with art due to sensory processing issues, this allows them to make art without having to get the paint on themselves. 

Adaptation for younger and older kids: You can change the target from CVC words to letters of the alphabet for younger children or high-frequency words for more experienced readers. 

We’d love to know how your family celebrates the Fourth of July. Comment and share below!

Chrysta Naron is an early childhood educator and curriculum specialist in Austin, Texas, who believes everything is better with glitter! Read more from her at www.playfulprek.com. Photos by Chrysta Naron.

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