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Design a Community Flag


  • Educational Technology
  • Social Studies
    --Current Events
    ----U.S. History
    ----State History
    ----World History


  • 3-5
  • 6-8


Brief Description

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.


Students will:

  • understand the five basic principles of flag design.
  • identify reasons why the flag of a nearby community was ranked high or low based upon those principles
  • apply the principles as they create their own flags.


civics, community, flag, international studies, design, Excel

Materials Needed

  • Student access to the Internet
  • Student access to Microsoft Excel (or a drawing program, such as KidPix, AppleWorks, and so on.)
  • Projector or TV monitor connected to a computer with Internet access
  • A copy of Test Yourself for each student (page 8)
  • A copy of The 5 Basic Principals of Flag Design (page 2) for each student

Lesson Plan

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 (pg 2) 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:

  • Decide what the flag will look like based on the 5 basic design principles and on what they know about their community, state, country.
  • Open Excel.
  • Click File>Page Setup, select Landscape, and click OK.
  • Go to View>Toolbars>Drawing.
  • Click Autoshapes (or the picture of the gray triangle, circle, and rectangle), click Basic Shapes, select a rectangle, and draw the outline of the flag.
  • Click File>Print Preview to make sure the flag will print on just one page.
  • Use the paint can and line tools on the Drawing toolbar to add color to the flag.
  • Use the stars, bursts, and other shapes under Autoshapes to add detail to the flag.
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!


Students will be evaluated on their

  • understanding of the flag design principles and of their own community as expressed in their flags.
  • time management and basic computer skills as evidenced by completion of the flag activity.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lorrie Jackson

National Standards

NSS-C.K-4.1 What Is Government?
NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.K-4.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.K-4.4 Other Nations and World Affairs

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


NSS-G.K-12.2 Places and Regions
NSS-G.K-12.4 Human Systems
NSS-G.K-12.5 Environment and Society

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)

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

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