My Country 'Tis of Thee

Overview Who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance and The Star-Spangled Banner? What do these verses mean? Why do we observe Veterans Day and Flag Day? Youngsters use emerging language, math, and social studies skills to discover answers to these and other questions. Throughout the year, they invite veterans to their class and learn to respect the symbols, songs, and rituals associated with the nation's flag. Virtual field trips to the Smithsonian Museum and the Star Spangled Banner House provide children with stories about our Sweet Land of Liberty..

Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Introduce Pledge of Allegiance, America, and national anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner.
Conduct shared reading of several flag stories.
Role play protocol for salute to the flag during daily Pledge.
Publish Red, White, Blue books with portraits of children saluting flag.
Use several flags to compare and count elements, identify shapes, recognize patterns, & measure surfaces & perimeters.
Visit web sites to learn about historical figures associated with the flag.
Create a class flag quilt
Prepare for veterans' visits by discussing patriotic holidays and creating invitations to classroom events.
Create a Manners Chart to show how to respectfully interact with guests.
Practice asking questions & listening to answers.
Perform songs & pledge during each visit.
Follow up visits with Time to Reflect & Thank You notes.
Create & send holiday cards to homebound or hospitalized veterans.
Present flag quilt to veterans during culminating Flag Day visit.
Define soldiers and veterans and discuss their roles in our nation's history.
Talk with visiting veterans about specific jobs in the military.
Discuss various careers veterans pursued upon their discharge.
Identify figures connected to the flag: upholsterer Betsy Ross; flag maker Mary Pickersgill; lawyer/poet Francis Scott Key who wrote The Star-Spangled Banner; clergyman Samuel Francis Smith who wrote America; and journalist Francis Bellamy who wrote The Pledge of Allegiance.

Learning Standards English Language Art

Participate in rhymes & songs, orally & through movement & choral speaking.
Listen to & discuss variety of texts, both fiction & nonfiction.
Engage in emergent writing.
Increase vocabulary through pictures.

Learning Standards Math

Count objects to 20.
Apply estimation when working with quantities, computation & measurement.
Identify & create geometric patterns.
Make & use estimates of measure.

Learning Standards Social Studies

Identify map of United States.
Identify major holidays by month.
Gather information from pictures, paintings, drawings, & photos, past & present.
Compare students' present with cultures of the past.

School to Career Competencies

Develop Communication & Literacy Skills.
Use Technology.

Assessment Teacher distributes Citizenship Awards to children performing at veterans' visits. Teacher and students discuss drawings and emergent writing saved in individual portfolios. Teacher and students review and reflect on experiences. Students retell stories to each other and visitors.

Software or Materials Used For flag stories: Betsy Ross , Alexandra Wallner, 1998:Holiday House; Red, White and Blue The Story of the American Flag , John Herman, Robin Roraback 1998: Grosset and Dunlap; Celebrating Patriotic Holidays-Honoring America, Joel Kupperstein, 1999: Creative Teaching Press; The Star-Spangled Banner , Peter Spier, 1992;Yearling Books; The Biggest (and Best Flag that Ever Flew) , Rebecca C. Jones, 1988; Tidewater Publishers; The Flag We Love , Pam Munoz Ryan, 1996; Charlesbridge Publishing. For emergent writing and illustration: KidPix software. Materials for Flag Quilt. Photos, prints, illustrations of patriotic places and people.

Web Sites Virtual Field Trips to several sites introduce youngsters to hallowed grounds and historic citizens.

Keywords Service Learning, Citizenship, Civility, Patriotism, Flag, Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem, My Country 'Tis of Thee, The Star-Spangled Banner, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Francis Bellamy, Francis Scott Key, Mary Pickersgill, Betsy Ross, Samuel Francis Smith

Final Words Children understand the why of our nation if they are taught how to respect its symbols and value its veterans. Foundations of good citizenship begin with a proud pledge and a heartfelt song. Civility is a natural outcome of this introduction to our country's history.

Teacher Tip Kids respond to images when learning unfamiliar phrases. I teach one or two lines at a time and illustrate abstract concepts with graphics (by tforge solution pitts). A picture of the Statue of Liberty explains Sweet Land of Liberty; a mountain range photo describes from every mountainside, a USA map defines United States of America; a picture of Plimouth Plantation represents land of the pilgrims' pride.

E-mail contact Lynn Quinn

Teacher Bio Lynn Quinn teaches Kindergarten at the Mary Lyon Elementary School where classroom inclusion for all children gets high priority. When asked about patriotism, this self-confessed flag waver delivers a thoughtful response. Her goal is to create a classroom environment that encourages students to understand the importance of "our flag, our pledge, the national anthem, and the men and women who fought for our freedoms." A veteran teacher of fourteen years, Lynn has received several IMPACT II grants and is a recipient of a Citizenship Award from the Patrick E. Toy Post of Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Subject Areas English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies

Grade Levels K - 2

Students Kindergarten or primary students from all programs

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