Independence Day

Independence Day Games and Learning Activities

States and Capitals | Capture the Flag | Around the USA |
Patriot Games | Paul Revere's Ride 

States and Capitals

Using heavy red construction paper or poster board, cut out 100 stars. On one star, neatly print the name of a state; on the next, the names of its capital, and so forth. You may wish to laminate finished cards for greater durability.

Option One (similar to Memory)
Place all cards face down on a table or other flat playing area. Each player flips over two cards. If the cards form a pair, the player keeps the set and takes another turn. If the cards do not form a pair, the player lay both back on the table face down and play progresses to the next player. Of course, a primary objective of this game is to aid players in memorizing the states and capitals. If a player makes a match, fails to recognize it as such, and returns cards to the playing area, no other player should point out his/her mistake. However, a subsequent player who noticed the match can flip both cards and claim the pair. In other words, players need to pay attention throughout the game--not just during their turns. When all states and capitals have been matched, the player with the most pairs wins.

Option Two (similar to Old Maid)
Thoroughly shuffle stars. Arrange players in a circle. Deal one star at a time to each player in the circle, continuing to deal until no stars remain. (It doesn't matter if some players have one more card than others.)

Holding his/her cards so that no one else can see them, each player should review his/her cards, looking for pairs. Players should remove any pairs from their hands and place these on the table or floor in front of them. (It does not matter whether other plays see pairs. Only unmatched cards should be kept secret.) The player to the right of the dealer begins play by drawing one card from the player of his/her choice. If the card drawn enables him/her to make a pair, he/she places the pair in front of him/her. If the card drawn does not enable the player to make a pair, he/she simply adds the card to his/her hand. Play continues around the circle.

At the end of the game, players receive ten points for each pair. The player who go rid of his/her hand first receives an additional fifty points. Any player who makes an incorrect match loses twenty points per mistake. (If any player makes an incorrect match, two other cards will then not have mates. No penalty is assessed on players who end up with unmatchable cards.) The person with the highest score wins the hand.

Provide children with blue and red paint as well as white paper. Show them pictures of American flags from the original design representing the thirteen colonies to today's design. Let them use sponges to re-create various flag designs. (You might wish to assign each child a different flag, then allow children to practice placing them in chronological order once dry.)

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Capture the Flag

Few childhood games are more appropriate for Independence Day than the old favorite Capture the Flag.

Mark off a large playing area, at least 40' x 40' (although larger is better, if possible). Divide playing area into two roughly equal sides. Divide players into two teams. Give each team five "flags." (Red and blue bandana  or handkerchiefs make ideal flags. They're easily seen and easily laundered.) Both teams place their flags in an evenly-spaced row about two feet inside the outside boundaries of their respective sides (as far as possible from the opposing team). Players then spread throughout their respective sides of the playing field.

At a starting signal, each team rushes to grab the other team's flags. After players cross to enemy territory, them may be tagged. Tagged players are considered captives and must go stand behind the row of flags (still within boundaries). A captive player may be released if a member of his or her team can reach him behind enemy lines and tag him without being captured in the process.

Any player who secures one of the other team's flags is temporarily safe from being captured. The player holding a flag must walk or run back to his/her own side and deposit the flag on the sidelines before returning to the game.

No player may capture more than one flag at a time or capture a flag and free a prisoner at the same time. Each flag capture or prisoner release requires a separate venture into enemy territory.

Play is over when one team has captured all of the other teams flags or when all players on one team have been captured. The team with all the captured flags or all the captured players wins. If playing time must come to an end before all of one team's flags or players have been captured, the team which holds the greater number of its opponent's flags wins.

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Around the USA

Players sit in a circle. The first player announces, "I'm traveling around the country, and in [state] I visited [place]." For example, "I'm traveling around the country, and in New York I visited the Rockefeller Center." The next player must repeat what the first player said ("I'm traveling around the country, and in New York I visited the Rockefeller Center."), then add another phrase ("and in Pennsylvania I visited the Liberty Bell.") Play continues around the circle with each player repeating previous all phrases, then adding a new one. As a player forgets items in the list, he or she is eliminated from play until one winner remains.

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Patriot Games

On 3" x 5" cards, write the names of American heroes with whom players should be familiar. Examples include John Smith, Pocahontas, Squanto, William Bradford, William Penn, James Oglethorpe, George Washington, Betsy Ross, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Boone, Clara Barton, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Booker T. Washington, Clara Barton, etc. Tape or pin one card to the back of each player without allowing the player to see it. The players must then ask yes/no questions of others player to try to guess their own identities. Sample questions include, "Am I a man?", "Did I live before the Revolutionary War?", "Was I a President?", and so forth. Allow play to continue for about ten minutes. All who guess their identities within that time may receive a small prize. If desired, cards may be shuffled and redistributed for another round of play.

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Paul Revere's Ride

Most players will recall from Longfellow's poem Revere's famous command, "Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch / Of the North Church tower as a signal light,-- / One if by land, and two if by sea...."

Mark off a large playing area, at least 30' x 30'. Divide players into two teams, the British and the Colonists. The British stand on one end of the playing field, the Colonists on the other. When the game begins, the Colonists will attempt to cross the playing field to reach safety just past the British starting line. Meantime, the British try to tag them. Tagged players are out of the game and should exit the playing field.

A referee holds up either one or two fingers to tell whether the British will attack by land or by sea. If the British are to attack by land, they must gallop like horses. If they are to attack by sea, they must rock from side to side like a ship as they run or walk quickly. British soldiers who use an incorrect method of approach are also out of the game.

When all Colonists are either out of the game or safe beyond the British line, the turn ends. Teams reverse roles (the British become the Colonists and vice versa), and a new round ensues.

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