Flag Day, June 14, is a day to honor and learn about the "Stars and Stripes." The American flag has a colorful history and interesting evolution. Flag Day recognizes the June day in 1777 when the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States. It is important that our students understand the symbolism that our flag has and what that means to our country. However, this is also a great segway into other countries flags as well. There is a lot that can be addressed through this one holiday: the history of our flag, symbolism of the stars and stripes and the meaning behind other countries flag colors and symbols; so let’s get started!
For young students, a book is always an entertaining and effective way to introduce a topic. Stars and Stripes: The Story of the American Flag by Bob Dacey is perfect for children in grades 1–4. They will enjoy learning how the American flag came to be. This book tells how the flag has undergone many changes throughout the years. Another is F is for Flag by Wendy Cheyette Lewison, – this book reminds young children of the importance of the American flag in our society and how the stars and stripes symbolizes many things, and serves to unite us all! A question that arises among many classroom settings is who made the flag? Who Was Betsy Ross? By James Buckley this book tells about the patriotic seamstress who helped to create it! A great biography for for elementary classrooms. A great book to follow the American flag, would be Primary Explorers: Flags of the World by Sylvie Bednar. Kids will learn about the flags of other countries. They will be able to explore how many countries have flags with blue on them? Which country has a flag with a red leaf? Which flag has a red star? This book shows the flag of every country in the world, as well as flags used in signaling, sports and by long-ago pirates. Find out what flags mean, where they come from and how they are used.
To build from the knowledge the children have gained, they could each create a flag that would represent their family. They could write about what the colors mean and the picture or symbol they’ve used. This is a great way to get to know your students and a bit about their families at the beginning of the school year. Another idea is for the students to create a class flag that represents their school/classroom. Again they would write and share with the class why they choose the colors and symbols. To make it more interesting, the kids could vote to adopt one of the flags for their classroom. Together you could make a pledge to say along with your flag, including school rules, etiquette, respect and kindness. I know this is something that I will do at the beginning of my school year in September! I will probably connect it with our 9-11 remembrance.
Regardless how or when you introduce our American flag, just be sure to do it. I believe it is important to instill in our students what our flag represents and all those who have fought to protect it. Happy Flag Day!