Celebrating the Fourth of July from Spain: making patriotic food and fourth of July crafts for kids.
Being an American expat in Spain can be a little bit sad around American holidays; you see all of your friends celebrating on Facebook, and are constantly blasted with ways to celebrate said holiday on Pinterest.
It’s not like I did anything that exciting on the Fourth of July when I was back home, but I did love to play with sparklers and go watch the fireworks displays with friends and family. My uncle used to throw a bit of a party for a few years to celebrate because he was blessed with a porch overlooking the Grand River that was actually even touted in the newspaper as the best place to watch the Grand Rapids fireworks display.
Those were fun times.
Just because you are in a different country, though, doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and celebrate anyway.
I won’t be watching any fireworks displays today, but that doesn’t mean I can’t show some patriotism. Plus, next week we celebrate our town fiesta here where I live and the week will conclude with a huge fireworks display. So, I’ll be seeing fireworks albeit a bit late.
In any case, some towns in the US set off their displays on other days, so it’s not like I’m that far off.
Now that my son is off for the summer, I have more time to play with him.
It’s fun, but can also be overwhelming to have him with me all of the time. Plus, he is getting to be a bit too clingy, which may be a problem when the school year starts. I want him to learn to socialize better with other kids, and get a bit of a break from the clingy-ness.
I decided to take advantage of the fact that my friends have a nursery school, and bring my son there to play while I help them out a bit.
During the summer, there are also some older kids that go to the school. It’s a good place to keep kids entertained and safe while they are off for the summer and their parents are working. The plus, on days like today, is that I also can get together with another, albeit Californian :), American expat and celebrate with her.
Here is how we were celebrating the Fourth of July from Spain…
I wanted to come up with some fun activities for the kids to do.
Somehow I came up with the idea of having them paint an American flag so that we could decorate our party with it. My idea was to have them make it a few days earlier and hang it up for the party.
Unfortunately, things came up and I didn’t go to the school until the 3rd of July, and we didn’t have enough time to do more than just paint the blue, “union” part of the flag that day. We also printed out some Fourth of July coloring sheets for the kids of all ages.
I had planned ahead and made the cloth part of the flag out of an old, white sheet, cutting out the measurements according to the standard specifications.
I drew out where each stripe should be, by measuring and dividing by 13.
I blocked off where the union should be by following the 7th stripe from the top, and eyeballing the horizontal cutoff.
I masked off the border of the “union” so that the kids could paint that part blue for me.
When it was dry, I pulled off the tape, and used more masking tape to mark off the white stripes.
The next day the kids were very excited to paint the red stripes for me.
To make the painting of the white stars quick and easy, I decided to make a stamp of several stars in the same way I made the balloon stamp in the “Up” shirt I made. I cut the stars out of craft foam, but this time I rubber cemented them to the transparent cover of a cd case so that we could see where we were placing them. I printed out a pattern of the stars to the measurements of the union on my flag as a guideline.
My stamp ended up having 6 stars on it in the pattern that they appear on an actual 50 star flag.
We painted white paint onto each craft foam star, and pressed the stamp down into place. I had marked where the actual stars go on the flag to help guide them, but, in the end, the kids just did their own thing. I haven’t checked if our flag ended up having all fifty stars on it, but somehow I doubt it. I’m pretty sure Michigan is on there, but not so sure about California. 🙂 I still think they did a great job.
Then we moved onto making some food.
We made another flag out of cookies, cream cheese and strawberry and blackberry jams. While we were working on it, I talked to them about how many stars and stripes that the flag had, and the reasons for those numbers. I tried to use a little bit of English with them too.
We moved onto a more American recipe.
In the US, people have a tendency to say something is “As American as apple pie.” Apple pie is so common all over the world, though, that I don’t really think of it as really being that American.
What does set us apart, though, is Rice Krispy treats.
OK- I know I’m normally big into real food and this isn’t the sort of thing I normally make at home anymore. Even if I did, I’d try making it with homemade marshmallows and some sort of organic rice cereal. I decided to just chill out for a day, though, because I always find it fun to see the reactions of kids here when they see that you can actually cook with marshmallows.
Kids in Spain have never seen them before, and I love the expression on their faces when you tell them that you are going to make cookies out of only cereal and marshmallows.
I won’t post a recipe for them because the recipe is already all over the place, and plus, I just don’t ever follow one. I whip up some marshmallows with a bit of butter and stir in some cereal until I like the consistency. For those who need a recipe, though, the original can be found on the Rice Krispies Website.
Being a new experience for them, at first the kids were a little put off by touching the sticky cookie mass, but towards the end, they were fighting over rolling the cookies into balls. We made some chocolate rice cereal into ball shaped cookies, and used regular Rice Krispies to make some bars cut from a pan.
Then the kids helped me package them up for taking home. They were actually a bit scared to try the cookies, but once they did, ended up loving them.
I had more activities planned, like making firework paintings with glitter, or making fireworks out of ribbon and straws. My prototypes were made and ready, but we ran out of time.
Maybe next year!
In any case, we had a lot of fun and will have to plan some more parties over the course of the summer. Toddler activities are fun, but I like the change of being able to do more complex activities with older kids too. They also seem to appreciate trying new things.
This post is also available in Español.