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A Classroom of Flags
At the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify and describe key symbolic elements found on the American Flag.
- Call students together around the American flag, and lead them in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Ask your class some questions to gauge what they know about the American flag. Great examples include: How many stripes are on the flag? Why? How many stars are on the flag? Why? Why do we pledge our allegiance to the flag?
- After students have shared what they know, read Our Flag by Carl Memling aloud to the class.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(5 minutes)
- After finishing the book, ask students to think about what they just learned. Great discussion questions include: Why are there 13 stripes on the flag? Why are there 50 stars on the flag? Do the colors red, white, and blue have a meaning, too?
- After some discussion, explain that there are 13 stripes on the flag because there were 13 original colonies in early America. Tell your class that there are 50 stars on the flag because there are 50 states in the country, and explain that the colors of the flag represent different American values.
- Encourage students to think about how every part of the flag has a meaning.
- Ask your students: Can you think of other any symbols, like a flag, that people use in their daily lives? (If students are stuck, possible ideas include the color green as a sign for go and red as a signal to stop. The sun as symbol for light or warmth. The moon being used for sleep or darkness.)
Guided Practice(5 minutes)
- Inform students that today, they will be making their own United States flags. Just like the current U.S. flag, their flags will be symbols that represent America.
- Explain that students should include pictures and words that remind them of the things they know and like about their America. For example, if a student really likes camping in the woods, they could include a picture of trees and tents on the flag.
- Spend some time as a whole class talking about things people enjoy doing and seeing in America. Guide students to also think about historic American locations like the White House, Statute of Liberty, etc.
- Using a blank white piece of paper, show students how they can place pictures they draw themselves, images from magazines, words, and symbols like stars, circles, and dots to create a new American flag.
- Give all of the students a blank sheet of paper for their flag. Ask if students have any questions or concerns before sending them off to work on their own flags.
Independent working time(10 minutes)
- As students are working on their flags, circulate the room to answer questions and help students to think through the symbols on their flag.
- To set the mood, play patriotic American music softly in the background for inspiration. As an added bonus, playing soft music usually cuts down on student side conversations!
- Enrichment: Challenge advanced students to work with an adult to provide a written description to go with their flag. A fill-in-the-blank template can be used to help students describe their flags.
- Support: Work with students who are struggling on the concept of a symbol. Begin by defining symbol, and listing some common symbols for the U.S.A. Follow that up with a group discussion about potential symbols for each person. Then, help students connect the symbols they chose for themselves with common American symbols. This exercise will help students better understand what a symbol is, and how to choose appropriate symbols for the flag each person creates.
- Students can be assessed based on their participation in class discussions and the descriptions of their flags.
- Question each student about the symbols they chose to represent America on their flag. Every person should have a reason for choosing the imagery that he or she did. Also, ask your class about what the stripes and stars on the actual United States flag symbolize.
- As an additional form of assessment, students can be assigned to create another flag for homework. This time, students may choose to make a personal/family flag or create a flag that is representative of a place that is special to them. Students should be encouraged to practice writing or dictating about why they chose the images, colors, and symbols that they did for this flag.
Review and closing(10 minutes)
- Call students together.
- Give students time to share their flags with the class. Students should explain why they included the images, colors, and symbols that they did.
- After students have shared, hang the flags around the classroom or another visible part of the school.
- Encourage students to keep their eyes open for American flags and to report back to the class when they see one.