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Story Time: Jake Johnson-The Story of a Mule


If you’re looking for something a little different to read for the 4th of July, look no further than this hilarious gem. Jake Johnson  by Tres Seymour is the tale of a farmer taking some fireworks to the fairgrounds for the Independence Day celebration, but he has to convince his mule, Jake Johnson, to pull the wagon. Hilarity ensues. It will have your littles cracking up. But you want some nifty acitivities to go along with the laughter, don’t you? Let’s stick with crafts, science, and food today, and keep it totally fun.

Jake Johnson-The Story of a Mule 4th of July crafts and activities

Jake Johnson Activities


There’s no better way to get your littles excited for the 4th of July than do some messy, cool science experiments with them, and I have 2 for you that are super simple (you probably already have the ingredients at home) yet still exciting.

Fireworks in a Jar for 4th of July

Fireworks in a jar

What you need:

fireworks in a jar supplies for 4th of july


  • 4 colors food coloring
  • 3-4 Tbsp baby oil
  • Clear glass jar
  • Water
  • Oil

What you do:

  • Fill the jar about 2/3 full with water


food coloring for fireworks in a jar


  • In a separate bowl, add oil and about 4 drops each of food coloring

mixing fireworks in a jar


  • Use a fork to gently mix the oil and food coloring together

pouring food coloring fireworks in a jar

  • Carefully pour the mixture into the jar

Fireworks in a Jar-4th of July


  • Watch the food coloring slowly sink from the oil to mingle and swirl with the other colors

What’s happening:

The oil, being less dense than water, floats at the top, but the food coloring has the same density as water and so will not float.  Once it sinks into the water it begins to dissolve which makes it look like a little explosion.  Cool, huh?  Boom.  You just worked in a density lesson!

Patriotic Vinegar and Baking Soda Experiment

Littlest Patriotic Vinegar and Baking Soda Experiment

You know I adore baking soda and vinegar experiments, but this one has become my favorite.  Why did I never think to heat the vinegar before?

What you need:

Patriotic vinegar supplies

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • Red and Blue food coloring
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 2 equal sized jars
  • Saucepan
  • Tray to contain the mess

What you do:

  • Pour 1/4 cup vinegar into one jar
  • Divide baking soda in half, using 1/4 cup for each jar
  • In saucepan, heat 1/4 cup vinegar to just below boiling (tiny bubbles should appear in the bottom)



  • Carefully pour heated vinegar into second jar
  • Place both jars near the center of your tray (I promise, this Will Be Messy!)
  • Add red food coloring (3 drops) to hot vinegar and blue food coloring to cool vinegar, and stir to mix
  • At the same time, pour baking soda into both jars


Patriotic vinegar20160620_094203

It’s really cool–the heated vinegar causes a quicker reaction that jumps higher into the air (almost resembling an explosion), while the cool vinegar has a slower reaction with a wider range of fizz.  It was kind of hard to capture it with the camera; it happened so quick, but you can see by Littlest’s fast-moving arm that he had to almost jump out of the way.

It. Was. Awesome.


Crafts for the 4th of July

Craft Stick 4th of July Flag

Craftstick Flag

What you need:

Craft Stick 4th of July Flag Supplies

  •  8 craft sticks
  • red, white, and blue craft paint
  • glue

What you do:

pencil-marked craft sticks

  • Cut or break one of your craft sticks in half, making sure the pieces are as equal in length as you can get them.  These are what you will attach the other sticks together with.  Set them aside.
  •   You will only be painting one side of the remaining craft sticks.  Paint 1/3 of 3 of the sticks blue.  I put the sticks together and mark them with a pencil so it’s all even.

Blue field of craft stick flag


red white and blue craft sticks

  • Alternate painting the remaining 2/3 of those four sticks red and white.



  • Paint 2 of the remaining sticks red and the final one white.
  • Allow to dry




  • Once the paint has dried, turn the sticks over, being sure that your blue field will be on the left-hand side and your top stick is blue and red.  Also, alternate the red and white sticks so you have a true-looking flag.  Line them up so that they’re straight at all edges.
  •  Now it’s time for the stick you cut in half.  Run a line of glue along one side of one piece and place it about 1/2 inch in from the end.  Be sure it touches all 7 of the flag sticks.  Now glue the other piece the same distance from the other end.  It should look like the bottom pic.

Stars on craft stick flag

  • Now that you have assembled your flag, you can paint a white star in the center of your blue field, or make 13 white dots to represent the original colonies ( you could try for 50, but it sounds like a lot of work!)


Fireworks Pom Poms


These are also really easy to make, though younger littles may need a bit of help with the scissors.  You can make a bunch of red, white, and blue pom poms, or you can mix up the colors for variety.  You can make the pom poms a little fuller by adding another strip or two of crepe paper, but don’t use too much–they stop looking like fireworks and start resembling flowers.

What you need:

4th of July Pom Pom Supplies


  • Red, white, and blue crepe paper
  • Small dowel rods or kabob sticks
  • Scissors
  • Tape


What you do:




  •  Cut a 6-inch strip of each color of crepe paper.
  •  Stack them atop one another.


  • Fold the stacked crepe paper in half once.  Fold in half again.





  • With your scissors, cut thin strips on one long edge of the folded paper.  You should leave about a 1/2-inch strip along the bottom for attaching it to your dowel rod or kabob stick.
  • It should look like the bottom picture




  • Place one end of the dowel rod or kabob stick onto the uncut edge of the paper.  Roll the paper up from the short edge, making sure your cut edges are above the stick, which you are rolling up in the paper.



  • Tape the bottom edge of the pom pom around the stick.




  • With your fingers, fluff the cut edges until they resemble a firework.

Not too hard, huh?

4th of July Butterfly

4th of July Butterfly

What you need:

4th of July Butterfly

  • 2 coffee filters per butterfly
  • Red and blue food coloring
  • Chenille stems in color of your choice
  • Dropper or spray bottle

What you do:

food coloring 4th of july butterfly


  • Place coffee filters on a tray to keep the mess from spreading
  • Drop food coloring randomly onto filters


water dropper 4th of july butterfly

  • Use a dropper or spray bottle to spread the food coloring

drying filters 4th of july butterfly


  • Move to wax paper to dry (your tray will be wet, so it will take longer if you leave them on it)

fold stem over filters 4th of july butterfly

  • Once dry, fold 2 filters in half.  Place one atop the other with the rounded sides on opposite ends
  • Lay a chenille stem under filters
  • Fold stem up, gathering center of filters together

twist tem 4th of july butterfly

  • Twist ends of the stem together
  • Cut off to antenna size

finished 4th of july butterfly

  • Spread filters out until you have wing shapes

Just a small aside here–our wax paper stained with food coloring while the filters were drying.  We’re thinking of using it to make sun catchers tomorrow.  Win!



What’s better on a hot July day than ice cream?  Here’s a fun way to sneak some fruit in on your littles with their cold snack.

Red White and Blue Ice Cream

4th of july ice cream

That’s right, scoop out a big ol’ bowl of vanilla ice cream, surround it with strawberries and top it with blueberries.  Um, yum!!

Littlest and Middle both loved it.  I bet your littles will, too.

Independence Day is an important historical anniversary here in the States, but it is also just a whole lot of fun.  So settle in with your littles, enjoy this hilarious book, and go ahead and do all these activities while you eat berries and ice cream.  I can’t think of a better way to spend the 4th of July.

Looking for more summer Story Time fun?  Check out:

Story Time: Make Way for Ducklings - Crafts and activities for the picture book

Story Time: Make Way for Ducklings

Story Time: Sunflower House

Story Time: Sunflower House

Story Time: Spoonbill Swamp has crafts, printables, and other activities to enhance the beautiful picture book

Story Time: Spoonbill Swamp


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KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys.Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
KT Brison
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About KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys. Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
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  1. I must confess I’ve done a shoddy job celebrating the 4th while overseas, and my kiddos are the losers for it. I think we’ll try a few of these activities! Thanks for the inspiration and thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!
    Tina at Mommynificent recently posted…Booknificent Thursday Link Up Party #154My Profile

    • ktbrison@gmail.com

      I imagine that’s easy to do, Tina. Why would Malaysia care about our independence? 🙂 I hope you enjoy the activities!

  2. Great crafts and experiments! How fun!

  3. Looks like you’ve paired a hilarious book with some great lesson plans. I love books that feature a county fair like Charolotte’s Web or Farmer Boy.
    Leslie recently posted…Literacy Musing Mondays Linkup: Read Aloud RoutineMy Profile

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