Students research basic principles for flag design, find out how the flag of their city (or of a city close to their community) ranked in a national survey, and then use the computer to create their own community flags.
civics, community, flag, international studies, design, Excel
In this interdisciplinary lesson, students in grades 3-8 design a flag for their city, state, or country. The activity can be used in a variety of social studies lessons -- from an exploration of the local community to a class on international studies -- and in both the upper elementary grades and middle school.
Introduce the lesson by showing students the American City Flags Survey Results on a projector or TV monitor. Explain that the North American Vexillogical Association (NAVA) -- an organization dedicated to the study of flags -- recently looked at all 150 U.S. city flags and voted on how "good" or "bad" each flag is.
Scroll down the survey results for your city or a city close to your community, and discuss with students the flag's ranking: Is the flag ranked high or low? Why do you think it is ranked where it is? Then, scroll to the top and bottom of the list and ask students: What is different between the flags at the top and those at the bottom? What makes a flag "good" or "bad?" Have students list four or five characteristics they think should be on a city flag, or four or five criteria they think should be used to judge a flag.
Have students go to Good Flag, Bad Flag: How to Design a Great Flag. This excellent, easy-to-read presentation explains what NAVA says are the five design principles that make up a great city flag. At the end of the 16-slide presentation is a collection of flags that students can then judge as "good" or "bad" based upon the design criteria. Distribute to each student a printed copy of the Test Yourself page, and ask students to silently mark on their copies which flags are "good" and which are "bad."
Distribute to each student a copy of The 5 Basic Principals of Flag Design for reference and invite students to design on the computer their own community flag (or to redesign a flag for a particular country, state, or other geographic entity).
Microsoft Excel is a surprisingly easy tool to use for this activity. Simply have students:
Note: If Excel is unavailable, or, if you prefer, you can use a variety of painting and/or drawing programs, including Microsoft Paint (found on most newer PCs under Start>All Programs>Accessories), Appleworks, KidPix, or a freeware program called TuxPaint (found by typing "TuxPaint" in Google, then downloading onto each computer).
As students work on their flags, walk around the room and ask them about their designs. Make sure students don't forget to refer to the 5 design principles as they get excited about their own designs. You might wish to comment aloud on good examples you see, such as, "I notice that Maria's flag has just three colors -- just like we learned in the design principles."
When students finish, have them print their work or save it on the server or on a disk. You then can collect each flag off the server or disk and add them to a PowerPoint slide show to display on the projector or TV monitor. Have students share their flags with one another and explain why they designed the flags as they did. You even can vote on which flag is best!
AssessmentStudents will be evaluated on their
Lesson Plan Source
GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-C.5-8.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.5-8.2 Foundations of the American Political System
NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.5-8.4 Other Nations and World Affairs
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-C.9-12.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.9-12.2 Foundations of the Political System
NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.9-12.4 Other Nations and World Affairs
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-4.2 The History of Students' Own State or Region
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
NSS-USH.K-4.4 The History of Peoples of Many Cultures Around the World
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.1 Era 1: Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)
NSS-USH.5-12.2 Era 2: Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763)
NSS-USH.5-12.3 Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
NSS-USH.5-12.4 Era 4: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
NSS-USH.5-12.5 Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
NSS-USH.5-12.6 Era 6: The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)
NSS-USH.5-12.7 Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
NSS-USH.5-12.8 Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
NSS-USH.5-12.10 Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the Present)
SOCIAL SCIENCES: World History
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-WH.5-12.1 The Beginnings of Human Society
NSS-WH.5-12.2 Early Civilizations and the Rise of Pastoral Peoples
NSS-WH.5-12.3 Classical Traditions, Major Religions, and Giant Empires
NSS-WH.5-12.4 Expanding Zones of Exchange and Encounter
NSS-WH.5-12.5 Intensified Hemispheric Interactions, 1000-1500 CE
NSS-WH.5-12.6 Global Expansion and Encounter, 1450-1770
NSS-WH.5-12.7 An Age of Revolutions, 1750-1914
NSS-WH.5-12.8 The 20th Century
GRADES K - 12
NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
NT.K-12.2 Social, Ethical, and Human Issues
NT.K-12.3 Technology Productivity tools
NT.K-12.4 Technology Communications tools
NT.K-12.5 Technology Research tools
NT.K-12.6 Technology Problem-Solving and Decision-Making tools