Benjamin Franklin – January 17, 1706
*Born in Boston, Massachusetts, one of ten children
*Became a printer’s apprentice to his brother James at the age of twelve
*When he was fifteen, he secretly wrote letters to a newspaper as an older woman named “Silence Dogood”
*He had disagreements with his brother and ran away to Philadelphia two years later
*He found work there in printing shops, and soon established his own printing business
*In 1730, he married his childhood sweetheart, Deborah Read
*He worked hard and became a successful printer and publisher, buying the Pennsylvania Gazette, and in 1733, beginning a publication called Poor Richard’s Almanack
*In addition to his business, Franklin was heavily involved in civic projects creating a library, hospital, and fire company
*Success afforded him time to pursue his interests in science and invention
*His many inventions include the lightning rod, the carriage odometer, bifocals, the glass harmonica, and the Franklin stove
*Ben believed that inventions should be shared freely, and therefore never patented any of his
*He made contributions to several fields of science, including meteorology, demography, oceanography, and the study of light
*His observations on the nature of lightning and electricity earned him international fame
*From 1757 to 1775 he spent most of his time in England as a representative for Pennsylvania
*When the colonies began moving towards independence, Franklin returned to participate in the Second Continental Congress
*He was part of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence
*During the American Revolution he served as ambassador to France, securing a crucial military alliance, and eventually negotiating the Treaty of Paris ending the war
*Served as a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention
*Died at his home in Philadelphia on April 17, 1890
*Remembered as a Founding Father, and celebrated on the $100 bill
We sent this out to our Facebook community and posted to our site – and were excited by how many people showed interest in having a Ben Franklin party! “January 17th would be Ben Franklin’s 307th birthday, and we want to send out a few free party kits to families interested in holding their own BF party. Kits would include everything needed (decorations, supplies for the activity, photo of Ben, etc.) for a great event. You’d just need to pick up a cake and, of course, post a photo afterwards! Comment on this post or on our Facebook post if you might be up for trying it out”
We chose 14 winners, made boxes, and sent them out – and winners told us how excited they were to receive them! While we were packing boxes, J said “Was Ben Franklin a mailman or something??”
We included some a party instruction sheet, to explain the box contents:
Hopefully the tablecloth works for the table where you’re holding the party! You’ll also find some hats, plates, forks & spoons, napkins, ‘Benjamin’ balloon, red/white/blue balloons, confetti, picture frame, and Ben Franklin photo. Anything else already in your home or school (books, flags, etc.) that work for this theme will be great additions!
Depending on the age of children at your party, condense or enhance Ben’s biography as needed. It is difficult to capture a lifetime of impressive achievements in a few short bullet points!
Many of Ben’s most famous contributions to the world relate to his love for inventing. The flash cards contain photos and information for four of his most popular inventions. Here’s one example:
Ben invented bifocals in 1784, to correct his own vision!
Bifocals are eyeglasses with an upper and lower half. The upper half is for seeing things that are far away (like seeing things written on the board in a classroom). The lower half is for seeing things that are nearby (like seeing books you are reading).
It is estimated that 25% of all people will need bifocals at some point in their lives.
ACTIVITY – INVENTING!
In your box, you’ll find a bag of (very) random things! We’re going to honor Ben’s love for inventing by creating something of our own. You know the children at your party best – and can best decide what will work for your group. Either place all the materials in the middle of the group, to be shared by all, or break out into smaller piles so each child has one. Each party guest will invent something from these materials, name it, and tell the group how it works/what it does (it doesn’t really have to work!). Smaller children will likely create first, then decide what “it” is. Coach older children to think about something that would be useful in our world, and doesn’t exist, then making it from the activity supply pile. Put each invention on a piece of white paper, write its name, and take a photo. We’d love to see you post the photo(s) and tell us about the invention!
We were excited to see everyone’s photo & comments!
One family managed to get their hands on a Ben Franklin mascot costume – what a GREAT idea!!
We even had a preschool throw a party and it sounds like the kids had a great time!
Thank you to all who held a Ben Franklin party – the boys have enjoyed seeing your photos & comments, and LOVE seeing others share in our tradition!