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Learn About the American Flag
Without an understanding of the country’s foundation, children are sometimes swept along in the emotion of patriotism without really understanding what a true love for country involves. The following activities help your students grasp the history, symbolism and significance of “Old Glory," as they plan a community program to commemorate Flag Day on June 14.
- Students will recognize the symbolism of the United States flag, including the stripes, the stars and the colors.
- Students will explain the origin of the U.S. flag and identify the changes to the flag over time.
- Students will explain the history of the Flag Day observance.
- Students will practice research, writing, and speaking skills.
Divide students into three groups. Assign each group one of the following research topics upon which they are to become the class experts:
- Origin of the U.S. flag and its symbolism
- History of Flag Day observances
- Flag etiquette for display, folding, disposing and other uses
As groups research the assigned topic, they will create fact sheets to share with the other students in the class. In addition, the groups should write three to five multiple-choice questions that you will use on a class quiz.
Regroup the students so that one member from each of the original groups is in each of the new ones.
Using their fact sheets, topic “experts" teach the remaining group members the important information about their individual topics.
Group members should check one another’s understanding of the concepts, using the questions written by the original groups. They should be sure that everyone not only knows the correct answer, but also why it is correct, since the order of the answers may not be the same at test time.
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Plan a Celebration!
Reform the original “expert" groups. These groups will prepare the components of the community program, as well as the decorations for the ceremony.
Assign the groups the following tasks:
Write a three to five minute speech in which the group explains how a flag should be used and cared for.
Find or write a poem about respecting the flag.
Make a mural that shows proper flag care and etiquette. The mural should be at least 3 feet by 6 feet.
Flag History and Symbolism
Write a three to five minute skit that explains the origin of the U.S. flag and the symbols used on it.
Find or write a poem about the flag as a symbol of the United States.
Make an illustrated timeline to show the changes in the U.S. flag from its beginning to today. The timeline should be at least 3 feet by 6 feet.
Flag Day History
Write a three- to five-minute speech that explains how this day started, how it has been celebrated during its history, and why we continue to celebrate today.
Find or write a song about the flag that matches the reasons for celebrating this special day.
Make a mural about Flag Day celebrations and their history. The mural should be at least 3 feet by 6 feet.
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Spreading the Word
Review the style of a journalism lede (5Ws and 1H) and the inverted pyramid used for news writing.
Ask students to write press releases for newspapers, as well as radio and television stations, to explain the significance of Flag Day and to announce the ceremony sponsored by the class. Encourage them to write in a manner that a journalist could use the release for publication.
Next, review the elements of a friendly letter. Ask students to draft compelling letters of invitation to send to special guests, such as community dignitaries or veterans’ groups.
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Having Fun with Flag Day
Provide students with shrinkable plastic and markers or paint, along with key rings. Allow them to make their own flag key chains by drawing and coloring flags on the plastic. Punch a small hole in one corner and place the flags in a toaster oven to bake according to the manufacturer’s directions. Thread the cooled flags on key rings.
Expand the craft project by letting students make key chains, safety pin and bead flag pins or unity pins for the invited guests.
Reinforce the lessons you’ve taught on literary elements by having students write alliterative poems about flags and Flag Day. After the poems are illustrated, compile a class book and provide each student with a copy.
With these Flag Day activities, you and your students will gain new understanding of the significance of the national symbol and have fun in the process. Students can take pride in knowing that they have helped to educate the community, as well.
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For more information on Flag Day or the U.S. flag, check these sites:
Flag Folding, http://www.usflag.org/fold.flag.html
Flag Facts for Flag Day, http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/stars-and-stripes-forever-flag-facts-flag-day
National/Historic American Flags, http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/flags/fedflag.shtml
The following sites provide a collection of poems and short stories appropriate to Flag Day studies:
Printable Flag Day Short Stories for Children, http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/flag-day/short-stories/Flag Day Poems and Rhymes Patriotic Poetry, http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/flag-day/poems-rhymes/
The ideas for these lessons come from the author's 20 years' experience in education.