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Learning about Independence Day, Grades K-5

Lessons & Activities, Background Reading, Printables, and More

Found In: arts, social studies, preK-2, 3-5

Learn about the men and ideas that influenced the writing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence and how the 4th of July has been celebrated over the years with these lessons, activities, and other resources.

Lesson Plans & Activities

Lesson Plans

Fourth Of July  Students demonstrate their understanding of the Declaration of Independence by translating it into contemporary language. Three versions: grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

With Declare the Causes: The Declaration of Independence students in grades 3-5 see the development of the Declaration as a historical process and a writing process through role-play and creative writing.

In The Declaration of Independence: Rewriting the Rough Draft, students in grades 4-12 examine Thomas Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and then write their own version. Includes Common Core and State Standards.

Background Resources

Creating the Declaration of Independence (Library of Congress)
Jefferson's first draft and changes made by the congressional committee and English, Scottish, and American sources Jefferson used in drafting the Declaration of Independence.

Declaration of Independence (National Archives and Records Administration)
Read a transcription of the complete text of the Declaration and documents that inspired it, view an original copy, and identify the signers in Barry Faulkner’s 1936 mural.

4th of July Lessons: Protest, Revolution, and Independence (EDSITEment)
Lessons for grades 3-12 covering African Americans in the revolution and beyond, Colonial protests, Declaration of Independence, founding fathers, religion, and the Revolutionary War.

Every Man for Himself: American Individualism A reading of the Declaration of Independence in terms of 18th century regard for the individual. Includes a timeline, questions, and Instructor’s Guide ( PDF, 4 MB, 5 pgs.).

Prequel to Independence is a chronological collection of primary and secondary sources that concern events leading up to the Declaration of Independence.

Principles of Freedom documents spanning 1765-1823.

Our Documents presents a Teacher Sourcebook ( PDF, 4.2 MB, 76 pgs.) about 100 historical documents including the Declaration of Independence with annotated timeline, key themes, guidelines to primary sources, and lesson plans for grades 4-12.

Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents A special exhibition.

Writing the Declaration of Independence, 1776  An excerpt from a letter John Adams wrote in 1822 describing the writing of the Declaration of Independence.

Declaration of Independence video (7:51) background to DofI. Transcript included.

Teaching the Declaration without Overwhelming Students Approaches for visual and verbal learners

Independence Day Teaching resources and quizzes

Thomas Jefferson: Man of the Millennium presents Jefferson’s contributions to the new nation, the evolution of liberty, selected writing, and Jefferson’s legacy.


The 4th of July by the Numbers A printable poster.



Books & Video


  • The Fourth of July Story
    By Alice Dalgliesh and Marie Nonnast
    Aladdin (June 1, 1995)
  • Fireworks, Picnics, and Flags: The Story of the Fourth of July Symbols
    By James Cross Giblin and Ursala Arndt
    Clarion Books (April 23, 2001)
  • The Signers: The 56 Stories behind the Declaration of Independence
    By Dennis Brindell Fradin and Michael McCurdy
    Walker Books for Young Readers (January 1, 2003)
  • The Signers of the Declaration of Independence
    By Robert Ferris and Richard Morris
    Interpretive Publications (June 1982)
  • Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence
    By Gretchen Woelfle and Alix Delinois
    Carolrhoda Books (2014)


  • July 4th (The History Channel)
    12 brief videos and 4 photo galleries.
  • 1776 The Musical
    Excerpts from the 1972 film version of the musical.


last updated: June 8, 2017


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Learning about Independence Day