By Beth Pinyerd

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.

As we wrap up June and head towards July 4, there is a heartfelt expression I would like to extend from this early childhood teacher to Eric Carle, who was my favorite author and illustrator of children’s books. His birthday is celebrated on June 25. He passed away on May 23, 2021 at the age of 91. His brightly colored designed books have captivated children and adults alike. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?” are truly my favorites to read to young children, from infants on up. Children love the predictable pattern of the content of his books. Young children love a variety of techniques for story telling of their favorite books, as well as allowing the child to dictate his or her own stories. Carle’s books truly lean toward letting children interact with his stories. Our local libraries have all his books for summer reading and enjoyment. 

Carle’s books are favorites for us seniors, too. In doing “Sit and Chats” with the elderly in assisted living and skilled care, I have used Carle’s books as conversation starters and oh do we all chuckle and relate. For instance, “The Mixed Up Chameleon” does new and different things all at one time and tries to change and turn into everyone else but himself.  What a wonderful lesson to we Baby Boomers and seniors, teaching us to pace ourselves and not try to many different things all at once. Too, “The Grouchy Ladybug” speaks directly to seniors in that life may present challenges as we age, but the best attitude we can have is a positive one. Children and adults alike learn that each day is truly a gift from God and that it is better to wear a big smile and to have a happy, grateful and loving heart. It makes those all around you and yourself have JOY.

As Sunday approaches, the annual summer holiday celebration of July 4 is eagerly anticipated.  Don’t you just love the holidays? Each holiday — no matter what culture, family or tradition — provides many learning experiences for young children. July 4 offers so many fun learning activities for them and their families.

On July 4, we are celebrating the birthday of our country right in our communities and backyards. It is so important to celebrate the fact that a diverse group of people came together to form the United States of America. It’s also important that we declared our independence on July 4. As we celebrate Independence Day, the colors of our flag — red, white and blue — seem to be our focal point. Red represents bravery; blue signifies perseverance; and white represents purity. These are three strong principles that our country is built on.

Here are a few ideas I’d like to share with you that I hope will help your July 4 celebration one to remember. These are simple:

Make red and blue Kool-Aid with your child. Freeze the different colored drinks in ice trays or pans. Your young child will love putting red and blue ice cubes to his lips on a hot day.

Another simple food that young children enjoy is red and blue Jell-O jigglers that can be cut into simple shapes. Young children love the bouncy texture of this child-favored treat.

Fun together time can be celebrated by baking simple sugar cookies, spread with white icing, and topped with blue or red sprinkles. Young children love to do this.

Too, having your young child help you make July 4 cupcakes with seasonal strawberries and blueberries is not only a delicious dessert but a healthy one. A variation of this is to sprinkle blueberries and strawberries into vanilla ice cream.

Build excitement with your young children by including them on July 4 picnic preparations. Color Styrofoam cups with red and blue stripes. You can do the same with decorating napkins. White paper plates make up an easy young child’s creation wreath as they color and scribble red and blue so it can be hung on the door to show your family is truly patriotic from the hands of a young child. Share with them the different foods you are going to grill out, prepare or buy. With young children, make sure food is cut up in edible portions with your toddlers, twos, threes, fours, etc.

In many cities and communities, there are hometown parades on July 4. Too, you and your children can have a family July 4 by decorating bikes, tricycles, wagons or just marching around the house and yard with red, blue or white streamers. It doesn’t matter what you do, it is the time spent celebrating with your child that matters.

On July 4, when having fun in the sun, remember to protect your little ones with suntan lotion, hats, being in the shade, etc. Also keep your children, yourselves and family well hydrated. Remember the bug spray in that little insects can make huge whelps to their young skin.

Playpens are so easy to tote as an infant’s bed or just a playpen. Spreading out blankets or quilts make it wonderful for toddlers to climb all around during the family’s festivities.

There are many fireworks shows in our community. Check in the newspapers for those times. Be aware to the fact that young children are very sensitive to loud sounds. You might want to keep your infants and toddlers at a distance where they can enjoy the beautiful display of colors and not be frightened by the big booms.    

Last but not least, be thankful and pray for those folks who protect our freedom by serving in the armed services. Many families in the community may have a family member serving in our armed services.

I hope these 10 simple suggestions create a child-friendly, happy July 4 for you and your families. Take advantage of what our community has to offer.

Happy July 4th!

Classroom Observer, Beth Pinyerd