Red, White and Boom!

It’s crazy how I arrived at the subject of today’s blog. Earlier this week I came across some old toy army trucks that my husband played with as a child. After years in storage they were covered in a nice layer of dust.

While I was dusting off the first truck I noticed the writing on the side: Electronic Cannon. When I asked about it, my husband said it was an awesome toy to play with. It had two batteries and buttons that would raise, lower and swivel a “cannon” on the back of the truck. Then, nerf-like ammo could be blasted from the cannon with the push of a button.

In my husband’s 8-year-old mind, there was no toy on earth that was more fun. And that got me thinking about an activity at Hawthorne School that, once started, quickly became a favorite of the whole student body.

Each spring, as the end of the school year loomed on the horizon, one of our fifth grade teachers would give his students a challenge: Design and create a rocket that would be capable of being launched. And each year the excited students picked up his challenge and ran with it.

This was a home project so it was hard to judge what, if any, progress was being made over those last weeks of school. However, after the first couple of years, it became apparent that there was no need to worry that the rocket project wouldn’t fly, so to speak.

Each year when launch day arrived there was no end to the array of rockets that found their way to school. Some were large, some were small. Some had decorative spangles, some had none. Some looked like they would fly, some didn’t. But the one thing all the rockets had in common was the enthusiastic pride of their student creators.

Most often, launch day was set for the last day of school on the playground. As younger classes gathered round with their teachers, the beaming fifth grade students would file onto the playground gingerly carrying their rocket creations.

One by one, a student would step up to the launch pad where, with assistance from the teacher, the rocket would be steadied and readied. Then as with one loud voice, the entire student body would countdown to liftoff- 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BLAST OFF!

The loud pop and hiss as a rocket was launched would echo off the walls of the school as the children shrieked with delight. One after another, the rockets made their way up into the sparkling blue sky, seeming to hang a moment before ending their journey into space with a quiet thump when they landed on the grassy playing field.

It was a spectacular last-day-of-school activity and the enthusiasm of both the rocket engineers and the spectators was palpable. As I said earlier, my thoughts turned to the fun yearly rocket launch activity while I was visiting with my husband about his boyhood attraction to the Electronic Cannon.

And then my thoughts moved from there to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday and all the fireworks that will be beckoning to little folks with the promise of loud noises, sparkling embers and other countless means of fun.

After a little thought, I’ve decided my holiday gift to you and your family will be some links to important firework safety tips, along with some other fun ideas of how to spend the upcoming Fourth of July.

Let’s start with safety. Obviously, as adults we understand that fireworks have the potential to hurt and maim. But it’s shocking to think that over 9300 people are treated for firework injuries each year. Please take the time to read about firework safety and help your family have a safe holiday. has a nice little article you may find helpful.

And how about trying some new crafts, recipes and activities for this year’s Fourth? Check out this page on for some fun ideas.

I know a lot of families have traditions that are followed and enjoyed each Fourth of July. But if your family doesn’t have a tradition, you are looking to start one of your own, or you just want to try some new ideas, check out this article on

And finally, don’t forget to capture your holiday fun on film. It’s always great to look back on family activities and be reminded of the good times- gives you that warm, sparkly, red, white and blue feeling all over again. Here’s a link to for some photo tips by artistpreneur, Becka Robinson. Read and click for some great memories!

In closing, I’d like to take a minute to be thankful for the freedom that our country celebrates each Fourth of July. It’s definitely worth pondering. Have a wonderful weekend with your loved ones! God Bless America!


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