Best Fourth of July Activities for Kids That Aren't Fireworks

6/2/21 - By Rebekah Yahoves

It's Fourth of July week, and while fireworks and parades may dominate the long weekend, kids can also have plenty of patriotic 4th of July fun at home, too. Keep everyone from preschoolers to teenagers entertained with these 4th of July desserts, Independence Day crafts, and more. Complement the bangs and whizzes of the holiday with these quieter, craftier Fourth of July activities that many children appreciate more than big booms.

Find more at-home activity ideas in our Boredom Busters for Kids guide, including 100 Awesome Crafts and the Ultimate Summer Bucket List.


Fourth of July Dessert Recipes To Make with Kids

A pretty flag cake is an easy 4th of July project to do as a family. Photo by Mommy Poppins

1. Bake a red, white, and blue cake

Get your kids into the kitchen and create a patriotic layer cake for the Fourth of July. We make our Flag Cake version with three boxes of vanilla cake mix. Stir them in three separate bowls and give each batter a few drops of either red, white, or blue food coloring. You'll end up with three layers in the colors of the flag. Wait for the cakes to cool and place them on top of one another for a festive dessert. Decorate away with frosting and sprinkles, or layer with strawberries and blueberries. Pinterest is filled with tutorials on various flag cakes.

2. Or, make a no-bake patriotic icebox cake

If the weather is too hot (or your chefs are too teeny) for the oven, try this easy July 4th No-Bake Icebox Cake.

No need for the boxed stuff when you can make your own patriotic pops. Photo by Mommy Poppins

3. Cool off with some red, white, and blue popsicles

Pureed watermelon, coconut milk, and raspberry extract (with a little blue food coloring) are the secret to these layered Fourth of July popsicles.

Make a red, white, and blue milkshake this Fourth. Photo by Mommy Poppins

4. Whip up an American milkshake

red, white, and blue milkshake with sprinkles and whipped cream is a scrumptious recipe to celebrate July 4th. Even little kids can get involved with this by helping you to pour the ingredients into the blender. Sip your creations outside on a checkered blanket.

For a fun 4th of July craft pick up supplies to make a paint stick American flag.  Photo courtesy of Glue Dots 

4th of July Crafts To Make with Kids

5. Bedeck the front door with an easy American flag made of paint sticks

Strategically arranged with a fresh coat of red, white, and blue paint, paint stirring sticks can be used to make a crafty looking flag to hang on the door for a pretty piece of holiday decor. If you don't have some paint stirring sticks hanging around the garage, your local hardware store is likely happy to supply a handful for you.

6. Spread some holiday fun by painting some red, white, and blue kindness rocks

All you need are some smooth rocks, flag-color paints, and some patriotic feeling to make Fourth of July kindness rocks. Leave these inspirational surprises by your front walk or driveway, neighborhood park, or a friend's house.

Paint chalk and a spritz of vinegar create the fizz. Photo by Mommy Poppins

7. Decorate your driveway with fizzy fireworks

Make your own sizzling, fizzy fireworks on your driveway or sidewalk with some homemade chalk paint and household vinegar.

8. Wear your national pride with a red, white, and blue pin

safety pin flag made with red, white, and blue seed beads is a great craft for older kids to help younger siblings make.

Is it really 4th of July without sparklers come sunset? Photo by Matt Nighswander

9. Make some safe sparklers

Make an ultra-safe sparkler with this sparkler wand craft using glitter pipe cleaners and wire stars. Mini-patriots can wave them on Independence Day festivals, parties, and parades. Older kids can use the real fiery batons to write their names in the air, circle the stars, or design an aircraft in the sky. Remember that real sparklers should be held at arm's length and placed in a bucket of water after they burn out. Don't let toddlers try this and keep kids at a safe distance from each other to keep those sparks from pricking their skin—​and always supervise.

Learn about the history of our country's famous birthday. Photo courtesy of PBS

Fourth of July History with Kids

10. Pick your favorite lines from the Declaration of Independence

In between cooking and crafts, take time to teach kids why we celebrate the Fourth of July. Read from parts of the Declaration of Independence, signed July 4, 1776, and if their curiosity is sparked, you might even turn it into a little family performance with everyone memorizing a line or two and then giving a dramatic, post-dessert performance.

11. Host an American Revolution trivia quiz game with big kids

Start with these basic questions about the Revolutionary War, and then up the ante with some more obscure questions (what were George Washington's false teeth made from?) drawn from American Revolution trivia.

12. Teach kids why we celebrate the Fourth of July...

PBS Learning Media has a great video to explain the July 4th holiday to younger patriots. 

13. ...but don't forget to discuss the history of slavery in the context of the times.

The Fourth of July is also an opportune time to teach children about the terrible institution of slavery. This Brain Pop video about slavery explores its roots in early American history.

14. Host an indoor campout.

Put some picnic blankets on the floor of your living room and break out the picnic basket for an indoor campout. Toast some s'mores indoors or out, or pop some popcorn (mixing in some red, white, and blue sprinkles to make it extra festive). After it gets dark, no lights are allowed! Grab a flashlight and watch a patriotic movie like This is America, Charlie Brown or All Aboard America.

15. Visit an outdoor historical site to help Revolutionary War history come alive.

Many revolutionary war sites and monuments are outdoors and open this summer. Kids in the Boston area can hit the Freedom Trail, of course, for a closer look at historical attractions tied to the American Revolution and the country's founding. New York City has no shortage of kid-friendly American history sites, nor Philadelphia with the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. You'll even find plenty of Revolutionary battle spots in New Jersey, and of course, families in the D.C.-Virginia area have plenty of American history to explore during the holiday week.