The purpose of this lesson is to teach children the history of the American Flag. They will have a deeper respect for the American Flag and for those who designed and sewed the Flag. Background: Teachers will need to know the story of Mary Pickersgill. Mary was the seamstress for the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that flew over Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. Teachers will need to know how many stars and stripes are on each time period flag and what they stand for.
Students will show respect to the American Flag while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Artifact box: Put together an artifact box to spark interest in the topic. Items to include, but not limited to, could be: a thimble, flags from each of the time periods to be assessed (1776, 1812, 1819, & present day), picture of Mary Pickersgill, picture of Betsy Ross, words to the Star-Spangled Banner, picture of the War of 1812 (the bombs bursting in air)
Day 1 -Discussion: Where we have seen flags before? What do we already know about the American Flag? Fill in a KWL. Explore the artifact box. Do they know what any of the items mean?
Day 2 -Compare and contrast flags from around the nation & world. Why did they use those colors, designs, or pictures? What does our country’s flag look like? Picture walk and read the book, Stars and Stripes: The Story of the American Flag by Sarah L. Thomson (2003, HarperCollins). Design the Flag of today with red and white stripes and a blue field with white stars.
Day 3 -Did our flag always look the way it does today? Show the flags from the different periods and discuss. Put these flags in order. Why are they in this order?
Day 4 –Why do we have flags? Go to the Smithsonian website to see/hear about the Star-Spangled Banner. How should we treat the Flag?
Day 5 –Read aloud the book, The Biggest (and Best) Flag That Ever Flew by Rebecca Jones (1994, Schiffer Publishing). Compare and contrast the flag of 1812 to the flag of today. Record answers in a Venn diagram.
Day 6 –Discuss where Baltimore and Fort McHenry are located on a map. Go to the National Parks Service website to view pictures of Fort McHenry. How did the War of 1812 influence America’s feelings and use of the American Flag? Look through the artifact box. Can they now say with the background knowledge what the items are?
Day 7 – If I were to ask Mary Pickersgill to sew a flag for our classroom, what would it look like? Why would we have a flag? What would it represent and stand for? What does it mean to have community, respect, courage, responsibility, caring, or other character traits? Make a class flag based on the above attributes, and based on what we have learned about the symbolism in flags, using the democratic process come to a decision.
Can the student sequence four flags (from 1776, 1812, 1819, present)?
Sequences 4 flags correctly & explain their choices, receives 4 points
Sequences 3 flags correctly, receives 3 points
Sequences 2 flags correctly, receives 2 points
Sequences 1 flag correctly, receives 1 point
Can the student show respect to the American Flag while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance?
Shows respect 100% of the time, receives 4 points
Shows respect 90% of the time, receives 3 points
Shows respect 80% of the time, receives 2 points
Shows respect 70% of the time, receives 1 point
Extensions and Adaptations
We have also extended this lesson by having a school-wide Veterans Day celebration.