Activities & Lessons
Happy (almost) birthday to the American flag! On June 14 every year in the United States, we celebrate the anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag for our country. Flag Day is a great opportunity to teach your students about the symbolism behind flags and the various themes they may represent.
On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed its resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Then, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially designated this date as Flag Day.
Flag Day Celebration Ideas for the Classroom
Below are two Flag Day activities for elementary students in Grades K–5.
Activity: Our Class Flag (Grades K–1)
The children will discuss the symbolism of the American flag as they create a U.S. flag collage.
What You Need
- A large piece of posterboard, paper, or oaktag
- Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
What to Do
- Pick a theme that allows all of the students in your class to participate in this activity—this may be along the lines of "favorite places to travel" or "things we love," or a broader topic such as "words that describe me."
- Have children search through magazines or newspapers to find pictures (or draw their own pictures) that demonstrate the theme. Each student gets to add one image to the flag.
- Help them write Our Flag at the top of the paper and add any other design elements you want (e.g., a border, a list of student names, colors, etc.).
- Have children arrange their pictures on the paper the way they want them to appear, then glue the pictures on the paper.
- Discuss what the flag stands for. Why were specific colors chosen? Why is having a flag important in general? What does the flag reveal about your class as a whole?
Activity: Raise Your Flag (Grades 2–5)
Students research the symbolism of flags and then apply what they have learned to create flags that make personal statements.
What You Need
- A flag, or reference materials with pictures of flags, preferably in color
- Miscellaneous art materials, including scissors, scraps of paper and/or cloth, paints, and glue
- Construction paper
What to Do
- Displaying one real flag, or showing an image of a flag, discuss with students what the various colors and shapes on it stand for. The flag can be representative of a country, state, local municipality, or an organization. Lead the discussion on the reasons why flags are considered important. Have students answer questions 1 and 2 on their worksheet.
- Ask students to use reference materials to develop a glossary of symbols for that same flag on the student worksheet (question 3). Remind students that the colors used in flags are often symbolic.
- After students have completed their research, have them design and make their own personal flags. Suggest that as they make their preliminary sketches they consider what kind of flag would best represent the kind of person each of them wants to be. Point out that they are not limited to the symbols they included in their glossaries. They can also create their own logos or emblems, use their initials, make silhouettes of themselves, and employ their favorite colors.
- Set aside time for a Flag Day celebration for students to display and explain their personal flags to invited guests.
Want to further immerse your students in other holidays and significant events in the United States? Learn more about HMH's new Into Social Studies program for K–6 students.
You can also find more lesson plans and classroom resources on Shaped.
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