The History of Flag Day began in 1885, when B.J. Cigrand, a Wisconsin schoolteacher, invited his students to celebrate Flag Birthday, to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the United States flag. The idea quickly spread from his classroom to others, and eventually to the entire country. Finally, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued an official proclamation declaring June 14 as Flag Day -- a day when the entire nation would display and honor the flag.
This Flag Day, why not make a special effort to recognize the day? Provide your students with information about, and instill an appreciation for, their nation's flag, its symbolism, and the rich heritage it represents.
Education World helps you continue the Flag Day tradition by providing you with 14 activities designed to help your students celebrate June 14.
History -- create a timeline. Ask students to read The History of the American Flag, the Evolution of the United States Flag, or History of the Flag. Then have them create a timeline of the ten dates they consider most important in our flag's history. Discuss with students the dates they chose and why they are important. Adjust the number of dates used according to the age and ability of your students.
Math -- explore proportion. Explain to students that United States flags may be different sizes, but all flags must be the same shape and corresponding parts of the flag must be in specific proportion to one another. Have students study the flag proportions determined by the United States government. Then ask them to use those specifications to determine the fly, star diameter, and stripe width of flags of different hoists. For example, you might ask what the fly of a flag should be if the hoist is 2 feet.
Current events -- stage a debate. Older students can stage a debate about the Constitutional Amendment Issue regarding flag burning. Encourage students to explore online and library resources to learn more about the issue and then ask for volunteers to present each side of the debate. Following the debate, discuss the issue and the points raised with students. Online, students can learn more about the issue at Citizens Flag Alliance, Inc. and The Flag-Burning Page. Some might consider those pages controversial, so please preview them to determine their suitability for your students and community.
Art -- draw a flag. Invite students to draw a picture of their country's flag, write a brief description of the flag's symbolism and history, and send the drawings along with photographs of themselves, to the Kidlink Flag Project. Students can visit the site to view previously submitted drawings of flags of many countries and see photographs of the artists.
Language -- write a speech. Encourage older students to read Flag Makers, a speech delivered by then Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane on Flag Day, 1914. Discuss the meaning of the speech. Invite students to also visit Inspiring speeches to read additional examples of historic speeches. Then have students write a speech about what their country's flag symbolizes for them. Ask volunteers to read their speeches to their classmates.
Extend your Flag Day activities to include the study of state, tribal, maritime, and international flags.
Geography -- explore latitude and longitude. Provide students with a list of latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates and ask them to find the country at each location. Then have them explore Flags of All Countries. Here students can learn more about the geography, economy, government, and people of many countries. You might ask students to find a specific piece of information about each country you've highlighted in the activity. (For example, the "Geography" page connected to many flags offers information about the size of the country, including total land area and a simple comparison to the size of a U.S. state.)
Explore symbolism. Encourage your youngest students to visit Maritime Signal Flags Page, type in their name, and see it displayed in maritime flags. Older students can use International Signal Flags to write or translate signal flag messages.
Play a game. Invite students to play Flag Trivia and identify state flags.
Social studies -- make a map of Native American tribes. Invite students to go to Flags of the Native Peoples of the United States, scroll down to the section beneath the teepee, and choose a Native American tribe. Have students click the name of that tribe and read about the tribe's flag, history, and culture. Ask students to note the present locations of tribal lands. Then have students create one or more facsimiles of their chosen tribe's flag. On a classroom bulletin board, display or create a large map of the United States and have students attach their flags to the correct locations on the map. Repeat the activity until the locations of all the tribes are identified on the map. Encourage students to explore additional links and resources to learn more about each Native American group.
More art -- design a flag. Encourage students to visit the home page of flag designer Dave Martucci to learn about Vexillology. Ask them to scroll down the page until they find the link to Vexillology, where they can read about the basic tenets of flag design and click and explore many different flag designs. Then invite students to design a personal or family flag. You might also want to arrange students into groups, have each group design a classroom flag, and vote for the winning design.
Language arts/spelling -- make a word list. Ask students to create words using the letters in Vexillology. Words could include vex, lily, loll, lox, golly, ox, yell, gel, gill, ill, go, logy, and log. Older students might use their words to create a word search and then challenge other students to solve it.
Social studies -- learn about your state. Encourage students to locate and learn about their state flag. Then ask them to explore library and online resources to learn about the history of their state and its flag and to discover the symbolism behind its design.
Play another game. Invite students to play Flagtag and match U.N. member countries with their flags. Encourage students to click the name of each member state whose flag they identify correctly to learn more about that country.
The Flag of the United States
Extensive information about topics such as the evolution of the flag, the history of Flag Day, and historic and current U.S. flags. This site also provides links to information about the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Federal Judiciary. Here, visitors can locate their Congressperson, read every Inaugural Address from George Washington's to George Bush's, read the Constitution of the United States, locate resources in the Federal Government, find Congressional email listings, take a virtual tour of the Library of Congress, view sights in Washington, D.C, and visit Mount Vernon.
Purchase a U.S. Flag
Learn how to purchase a flag that's flown over the Capitol, find members of Congress by name and by state, and visit congressional offices' home pages.
Flags of the World
Choose to view flags of countries by country name, on a clickable world map, or through a map index.
Flags and Anthems
Contains flags and anthems of many countries, including the United States.
Article by Linda Starr
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