On quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies is written the phrase “E pluribus unum,” which is Latin for “Out of many, one.” It is an appropriate phrase to describe how our country has developed and the many different people and groups who have made it so great.
What You Need
Map of the world
What to Do
Have your child look at U.S. coins for the phrase “E pluribus unum.” Explain that the phrase means “Out of many, one,” and that it refers to our country as one nation with many peoples and cultures. Explain that it isn’t our families’ ethnic heritages that bind us together as Americans, but shared democratic values.
With your child, talk about the following holidays that are celebrated in the United States. Look at a calendar and add other holidays, if you choose. Next to each holiday write (or have her write) when it’s celebrated and what it celebrates.
|New Year’s Day||January 1||New beginning|
|Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday||January 15||Birth of a leader|
|Presidents’ Day||Third Monday of February||Originally, honored Presidents Lincoln and Washington; currently honors all U.S. presidents|
|Memorial Day||Last Monday of May||War dead|
|Independence Day||July 4||Adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776|
|Labor Day||First Monday of September||Working people|
|Columbus Day||Second Monday of October||Landing of Columbus in the Bahamas in 1492|
|Veterans Day||November 11||War veterans|
|Thanksgiving Day||Fourth Thursday in November||Day of thanks for divine goodness|
|Christmas Day||December 25||Birth of Christ|
When you are talking about holidays, take the opportunity to read original source materials related to them. For example: on Presidents’ Day, read one of the great presidential speeches such as President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or President Kennedy’s “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You” inaugural address; on Martin Luther King’s Day read his “I Have a Dream” speech. Talk with your child about the meaning of each speech.
Encourage your child to find out about national holidays that are celebrated in other nations. Classmates, neighbors and relatives from other countries are good sources of information.
Invite your child to think and talk about other important holidays that she thinks our nation should celebrate. Are their any people she thinks deserve to have a holiday of their own? Any group of people? Any event that needs to be celebrated that isn’t?
Discuss with your child your family’s personal celebrations, and have her write in her history log about these special days.
Ask your child:
What kinds of accomplishments or events do we celebrate in America? What similarities and differences did you find between American holidays and holidays celebrated by people from other countries?