While Redwood City’s annual 4th of July Celebration has been canceled due to COVID-19, you can still join the San Mateo County History Museum online for An Old-Fashioned Fourth!

Crafts will be posted on July 3rd, along with a recipe for a delicious treat!

Parade gatherers in period clothing and a vintage care holding a sign for the San Mateo County History Museum
A young girl making handmade ice cream at an Old Fashioned Fourth at the San Mateo County History Museum

We All Scream for Ice Cream

This recipe for Strawberry Ice Cream comes from the May 1898 edition of the Ladies Home Journal. We omit the strawberries when making this at the museum, but feel free to include them! This recipe is for use with a double boiler and an ice cream maker, however after this recipe there are links to ice cream recipes using alternate methods.

Step One: Make the base

This can be done a day or two in advance. Instructions below are for a double batch. To make one batch, halve the recipe.

  • 2 pints of cream (same as 4 cups of cream) + 2 pints of cream for later
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
  • large plastic containers to put the bases in
  • rock salt
  • ice

Put cream in a double boiler. Add sugar and vanilla. Stir consistently until hot. Divide mixture evenly between two containers. Put in refrigerator when cooled.

Step Two: Make the ice cream

  • Add another pint of cream to each base. (So there will be 2 pints in each container total.)
  • Place the mixture in the inner section of the ice cream maker. Place layers of ice and rock salt are in the outer area. Make sure to use plenty of rock salt.
  • Crank (or mix if you have an electric one) consistently for about 30 minutes, adding more ice and rock salt as needed.
  • When it becomes difficult to turn the crank, check the ice cream. When done, it will be a little firmer than soft serve ice cream. Stir in the strawberries (sliced or mashed) if you want to include them.
  • At this point it is ok to serve with your favorite toppings. If you desire a firm consistency, place in the freezer for another 1/2 hour.
A hand holdi

Crafts: Whirligig

Image of a Children's Whirligig Craft


A favorite Fourth of July activity from the Victorian period includes making things that could spin, like whirligigs. Decorate your own whirligig like the wheels in the photograph of a late 1800s Fourth of July float (see photos below).

Supplies Needed:

  • Carriage Wheel Template (works better if printed on cardstock, but regular paper is fine)
  • Scissors
  • Crayons (or colored pencils, markers or stamps)
  • 1/2 piece of a pipe cleaner (red, white or blue preferred, but any color is fine)
  • BBQ skewer or thin dowel rod (a craft stick would work in a pinch)


  1. Cut out the circle.
  2. Decorate the front.
  3. Poke a hole in the center of the circle with a pin or paper clip (you may need an adult’s help with this).
  4. Knot one end of the pipe cleaner. Pull the white pipe cleaner all the way through the hole (put it through the front side) so the knotted end is in front.
  5. Wrap the other end of the pipe cleaner to the top of a stick.
  6. Spin the wheel and watch the horses move.

Crafts: Bunting

Image of paper bunting craft


In the late 1800s, buildings and carriages were decorated with the American flag and the flag’s colors and shapes on the Fourth of July. Create your own flag bunting to celebrate the holiday.

Supplies Needed:

  • Bunting Template  (if you can’t print something that is 11×17, have an adult print it on 8.5 x 11 paper)
  • Coloring Materials (crayons, markers, color pencils)
  • Scissors
  • Red & Blue yarn (optional)
  • Hole Punch (optional)


  1. Print and cut out the fan shape.
  2. Color the small curved shape blue and stars.
  3. Color the first stripe on the left red, skip the next stripe to leave it white.
  4. Continue coloring a stripe red and skipping a white stripe until you colored the last stripe red.
  5. Take the fan shape and fold along the dotted lines back and forth like a fan.’
  6. Unfold your flag and punch a hole at the top ends of the fan shape.
  7. Tie a blue string through one hole and a red string through the other.
  8. Hang your banner!

Crafts: Clown Mask

Image of a clown mask craft.

During the Victorian period, “The Horribles” were people in the Fourth of July parade that wore masks and dressed up as clowns . Make your own clown mask.

Supplies Needed:

  • Clown Mask Template
  • Coloring Materials (crayons, markers, or color pencils)
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • Pom Pom (or other small, round object like a button)
  • Craft Stick (or BBQ Skewer, or thin dowel rod)
  • Tape


  1. Print, color and cut out the hat, clown hair, and lips.
  2. Glue the hat, hair and lips to the plate.
  3. Draw a smile on the lips.
  4. Take a pom pom and glue it on the plate for a nose (if you don’t have a pom pom or button, you can draw the nose on).
  5. Draw red circles for cheeks below the eyes.
  6. Tape a popsicle stick to the back of the plate.
  7. Raise the mask in front of your face to show off your mask.

Crafts: Flag

image of 38 star flag


The 38-star American flag (also known as the Centennial flag) was the American national flag from 1877 to 1890. The flag featured 38 stars in the top left corner which represented the 38 states of America, as opposed to modern-day American national flags which feature 50 stars for the country’s 50 current states.

Supplies Needed:

  • Template
  • Glue, Glue Stick or Double Sided Tape
  • BBQ skewer, Popsicle Stick or something of similar size/shape


  1. There are three rows of flags. In each row there are two images: one flag displayed backwards, and one right side up.  Each row equals one flag.
  2. In each row, cut around both flags (do not cut in the middle!). 
  3. Turn the flag over to the white side. Place a stick in the middle between the two flags.
  4. Glue/tape the back of the flag. Press both sides together to make sure you have a tight seal (especially around the stick).
  5. Wave your flag!