This Is America!
- Arts & Humanities
Language Arts, Visual Arts
- Social Studies
Civics, Geography, U.S. History
- Educational Technology
Students cut up magazines and newspapers to create an American flag collage -- a visual essay of their thoughts about "What America Means to Me."
- search for images and headlines that demonstrate what they think makes the United States a great place to live.
- create five-point stars
- cut up the images and headlines and use them, along with the five-point stars, to create a large American flag.
- use the completed flag as an inspiration for This Is What America Means to Me essays.
flag, collage, America, United States, U.S., magazine, newspaper
- a variety of photo and news headline sources, such as magazines, newspapers, and books; see more source ideas in the Lesson Plan section below
This activity will result in a dramatic bulletin board for classroom or hallway display.
Introduce the activity by asking students to complete the statement "To me, America means" As students share their thoughts aloud, write their responses on a chalkboard or chart paper.
Explain to students that they are going to create a large American flag collage that will convey the ideas expressed in the complete-the-statement activity. Tell students that they will do that by drawing or locating images that convey what the United States is and then combining those images into a flag motif. To create the This Is America! flag collage, students should
- Find appropriate collage images that contain shades of red to use to create the flag's red stripes.
- Find appropriate collage images that contain shades of blue to use to create the blue background for the flag's stars.
- Find appropriate newspapers headlines that display an abundance of white space to use to create the flag's white stripes.
- Cut the images and headlines into collage pieces in a way that emphasizes the red, blue, or white that appears in them, and then correctly attach the images to a bulletin board covered with white paper.
- Create five-point stars to serve as the stars on the flag and correctly attach them to the bulletin board. (See the Education World lesson Seeing Stars for an idea that might be worked into the collage.)
You may want to consider the following tips as students work on this project:
- Images with predominantly blue or red shades may be difficult to find; if so, use red stripes and a blue background for the stars and attach images so the colored background is highly visible.
- This project also makes a great school-wide project. Involve the entire school (or an entire grade level) and create a flag for the entryway to the school or to a wing of the school.
- Emphasize to students that, although library books can be a great resource for "This Is America!" images, they cannot be cut up! Help students learn to use a color photocopier or scanner to copy images found in library books.
- The Internet also can be a rich source of patriotic images and/or clip art. The Web sites of national magazines such as Time and Life can contain a number of images. See below for a list of some online image resources.
- Black-and-white clip art can be reproduced on colored paper or used to supplement headlines in the white stripes of the flag collage.
- Images need not be limited to patriotic images. Encourage students to search for images of explorers, famous events, popular sporting events, families and family activities, holiday celebrations, and more.
- When the flag is completed, have students use it as the inspiration for original essays titled "This Is What America Means to Me." Display student essays around the flag. Invite students to select their favorite essays to read aloud at a Parents Night event, Flag Day celebration, or September 11 commemoration.
InternetPhoto and Clip Art Sources
Use your favorite search engine to locate photo and clip art images that students can use to create the This Is America! flag collage. Here are a handful of the patriotic photos and clip art images we found:
Students write essays titled "This Is What America Means to Me."
Lesson Plan Source
FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
- GRADES K - 4
NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.K-4.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
- GRADES 5 - 8
NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.5-8.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.5-8.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
- GRADES 9 - 12
NA-VA.9-12.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.9-12.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.9-12.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
LANGUAGE ARTS: English
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Civics
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
- GRADES K - 4
NSS-USH.K-4.1 Living and Working together in Families and Communities, Now and Long Ago
NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
- GRADES 5 - 12
A wide range of the 5-12 standards are met by this activity.
Return to the Flag Day lesson plan page.
See additional Flag Day lessons in the Education World articles A Salute to Flag Day and Celebrate the Stars and Stripes.
Originally published 5/24/2002
Last updated: 11/11/2014