Children love to help prepare food, whether for themselves or for friends and family. They can share in patriotic pride as they help to make a variety of red, white, and blue foods for celebrations at home or in the classroom. An added bonus are all of those practical life skills they’re working on, plus you can subtly add in a little history and science while you’re at it. The following ideas are meant for the kids to do on their own, with minimal supervision needed.
Patriotic Side Dishes
Make a red, white, and blue potato salad! Children can use a vegetable scrubber to clean red, white, and blue potatoes! Those who are ready can also help to slice and dice the potatoes.
Use red and/or blue food coloring to water when you’re boiling pasta. Children can squeeze in a few drops prior to the water boiling.
Add food coloring to mayonnaise or salad dressing. Not only can the children squeeze in the colors, but they can also stir in the color to mix it in.
Slice tomatoes to be mixed into side dishes.
Premeasure ingredients for various salads and side dishes. Let the children pour them into the larger bowl and help stir it all together.
Patriotic Veggie Tray Ideas
Brainstorm with the children about red, white, and blue vegetables. You can do research ahead of time and then make a list to take to the grocery store.
Children can clean the vegetables, either gently running under water or using a vegetable scrubber on something like radishes.
Let them help slice vegetables like red peppers or cauliflower and then arrange the veggie tray.
Then they can stir red or blue food coloring into the veggie dip.
Gain threading skills by making veggie skewers.
Patriotic Fruit Tray Ideas
Brainstorm with children about red, white, and blue fruits and make a list for shopping.
Children can help to rinse all fruits prior to use.
Help strengthen the pincer grasp by letting them use a strawberry huller to remove the leaves and stem. Even pulling red grapes off of a stem will strengthen those fingers.
Children love to use an apple slicer to help slice red apples. Make it a little easier on them by cutting an apple in half horizontally.
Practice spooning skills by using a melon baller to serve watermelon.
They can help mix up a fruit salad or assemble a fruit tray.
Again, add food coloring to fruit dips.
Just like veggie skewers, you can let them make fruit skewers.
Patriotic Snack Tray Ideas
Brainstorm with the children about other favorite snack foods that may be red, white, or blue.
Set up a chip tray with red, white, and blue tortilla chips or potato chips.
Have children help make a homemade salsa.
Children can cut red and white cheese into chunks. They can also add toothpicks for easy serving.
Make skewers or red meats, such as pepperoni and sausage, with white cheeses.
Arrange crackers on a tray.
And yet again, they can stir colors into sour cream or other dips.
Patriotic Dessert Tray Ideas
Bake a batch of white sugar cookies together. Frost and decorate using patriotic colors, sprinkles, or even stars. You can even sprinkle them on top of cookies prior to baking. You can also add red or blue food coloring to the batter. Divide the batter into three parts and create multicolored cookies.
Top a white cake or ice cream cake with strawberries and blueberries arranged to look like an American flag. Take time to talk about the symbolism while you’re doing it.
Make red, white, and blue Jell-O jigglers. Make single-colored batches using flavors like blue raspberry, cherry, strawberry, etc. Layer the colors by allowing the bottom layer to settle before adding another color. Use star-shaped cookie cutters to cut them out.
Mix red and blue berries into the Jell-o.
Additional Patriotic Practical Life Activities
Children can also be in charge of setting up serving areas as well as helping to decorate with red, white, and blue streamers, balloons, and anything else they can brainstorm. And then they can practice grace and courtesy by helping to serve guests.
Allowing children to help prepare or parties gives them a sense of confidence and aids their independence as they learn valuable practical life skills. They are proud of their participation and can be very helpful when given a little bit of guidance. Have fun!
[A version of this article previously appeared on Suite 101.]