Baltimore Curriculum Project Draft Lessons

Introductory Notes

These lessons generally follow the grade-by-grade topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence, but they have been developed independent of the Core Knowledge Foundation. While the Core Knowledge Foundation encourages the development and sharing of lessons based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, it does not endorse any one set of lesson plans as the best or only way that the knowledge in the Sequence should be taught.

You may feel free to download and distribute these lessons, but please note that they are currently in DRAFT form. At this time the draft lessons on this web site do NOT have accompanying graphics, such as maps or cut-out patterns. Graphics will be added to this site later.

In participating BCP schools, these lessons are used in conjunction with the Direct Instruction skills programs in reading, language, and math. If you use or adapt these lessons, keep in mind that they are meant to address content and the application of skills. You will need to use other materials to ensure that children master skills in reading, language, and math.

Second Grade - American Civilization Overview - October

This portion of American Civilization covers the events in history around the War of 1812. It is important that students get a clear picture of a partially settled America that was still experiencing growing pains. Be sure that your students are not envisioning the present day United States with Alaska and Hawaii. Remind them that travel was slow and hard; that wars were fought with guns that allowed only a single shot to be fired at a time; that there were few means of communication, and it took a long time for messages to be delivered

Be sure that you have covered the single separate geography lesson for this unit before beginning the history lessons. Make certain to incorporate geography into the history lessons and review terms from the first month as much as possible.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 5 - War of 1812


Locate Europe, France, and England on world map.

Distinguish on map U.S. states and territory of 1812 compared to today.

Define island and identify England and Australia/Antarctica .

Explain impressment and its outcome.


Classroom size world map

Classroom size map of Maryland

Crayons, scissors

Blackline of the contiguous United States (use for transparency)

Suggested Books

Morris, Richard B. The First Book of the War of 1812. New York: Franklin Watts, Inc., 1961.

Smith-Baranzini, Marlene and Howard Egger-Bovet. Brown Paper School US Kids History: Book of the New American Nation. California: The Yolla Bolly Press, 1995.



In order for the children to understand the problems and outcomes of the War of 1812 it is essential that they understand this time period in history. It is important to recognize that communication over distances took long periods of time, that there were no radios, televisions, telephones, etc.

Point out to the children that overland travel took place on horseback or foot, and sea travel was still fueled by oars and wind. Many things happened during this war simply because people could not easily communicate with each other.

The history lessons regarding the War of 1812 also include geography lessons. Be sure to help the students recognize that while the continent of North America and the land that became our present United States did exist, it would be years before the states went all the way to the west coast. The America of 1812 had states along the Atlantic coast and territories that extended west to the Missouri River (thanks to Lewis and Clark) and north to the Great Lakes.


Display a world map and briefly review the cardinal directions and the seven continents. Ask: What continent is the United States on? (North America) What continent is England located on? (Europe) Be sure that the students recognize that the island of England belongs to Europe. Ask: Does anyone remember which of the continents is an island? (Australia) Have students point out the United States, England, Australia.

Tell the students that the next big event in American history that they will study about is between the United States and England, but it also included the country of France. It is called the War of 1812. Have a child locate France on the map. Ask: What continent is France located on? (Europe)

Because France and England were fighting, France had to send troops over the English Channel to get to England. This meant that England and France had to battle on the sea as well as BCP DRAFT HIST 14

Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 5 - War of 1812

the land. While they were battling, ships were coming across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States to trade. These U.S. ships were captured by the French and the English. The English, however, also forced the American sailors to fight on their side. This was called impressment. Americans were angry.

The U.S. made a deal with the French that America would stop trading with England if the French would stop taking U.S. ships. Now the U.S. would be helping France and we would be at war with England again. What the U.S. didn't know was that England was willing to leave our ships alone, too, but they had no way to get the message to America in time. A war started all over again.

Tell the students that the U.S. now had its 4th president, James Madison. George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson had come before him. Ask: Do you remember what James Madison did earlier in our history? (took notes at the Constitutional Convention) What is he called? (Father of the Constitution) James Madison had another big accomplishment, too. Ask: Do you remember the Louisiana Territory that you saw on the map? James Madison helped Thomas Jefferson convince France to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States. This made America double in size.

James Madison was married to a lady named Dorothea whom everyone called Dolley. Dolley Madison would do something very important later on during this War of 1812.

Tell the students that there are three main areas where this war takes place in America. Use a U.S. map and point out the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, and Louisiana. Tell the students that these are the places where the War of 1812 continues.

Using the U.S. outline as an overhead transparency show the students the part of the U.S. that contained states. Show the territory of Florida and the area around Louisiana that was occupied by the Spanish. Make sure that the students see that the boundaries of the states that were in place at this time have remained much the same.

Have the students color their maps with your direction. Fill in the map key accordingly and color the states red; color the territories blue; leave the land claimed by Spain blank. Title the map The United States in 1812.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 6 - Battle of Lake Erie


Tell why the Constitution is called "Old Ironsides."

Explain the statement, "We have met the enemy and they are ours."

Color and construct a model of the Constellation.

Locate the Great Lakes.


Picture of a frigate

Classroom map of the U.S.

Crayons, scissors

Blackline from the Maryland Historical Society


Suggested Books

Morris, Richard B. The War of 1812. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1985.

Maryland Historical Society, 201 West Monument Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 - contains a model of the Constellation by a sailor who once worked aboard the ship.


Remind the students that the battles in the war between the U.S. and England often took place at sea. The ships of the time were wooden sailing ships that were fitted with cannons built into their sides. Ships were usually close to one another when they fought because the guns did not fire great distances. When ships were hit and in danger of sinking, it was not unusual for the captain to surrender his ship. It was not considered a disgrace to give up if there was no longer any possible way to win.

The frigate Constitution was responsible for several victories at sea. The captain would bring the ship very close to the enemy ship and not fire until close enough to destroy the other ship. Because this method was used often and a lot of damage happened to the Constitution, it was sometimes called "Old Ironsides." Ask: What do you think this name meant? (seemed to be made of iron) If the students have difficulty responding ask them first what iron is (metal). Ask: Is metal stronger than wood? (yes) Did it seem that this ship was so strong that it seemed to be made of metal?

Ask the children if they have ever seen the Constellation that was harbored in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. This ship was built around the same time as the Constitution which is afloat in Boston Harbor in Massachusetts (locate on map). It is hard to believe that both ships are almost 200 years old and are still around.

The sea battles did not just take place in the Atlantic Ocean; some took place on the Great Lakes, too.

Display a map of the United States and help the children locate the Great Lakes. Name each of the lakes and tell the students that the names come from Indian words. Tell the students that it was possible to sail down the St. Lawrence River into Lake Ontario. Ships were also built in Canada and launched onto the Great Lakes. You may want to give some geographic


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 6 - Battle of Lake Erie

information and tell the students that an easy way to remember the names of the five lakes is that their first initials spell the word HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior).

The land on one side of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario was settled as American states. The other part of the land was taken up as territories claimed by the British and the Americans. The

Americans did not want any of their cities to be attacked so they kept ships on patrol in the lakes. The city of Detroit had been lost in 1812, so Captain Oliver Hazard Perry, who was only twenty-eight years old, was given the job of getting a fleet, or group of ships, together to try to win it back. In the fall of 1813 he went out to sea on Lake Erie with his ships, guns and men. A terrible battle began. Perry's ship was hit many times and his officers were all killed or wounded. Perry would not give up!

Ask: What would you have done if you were Perry?

Perry climbed off his ship to a little boat and rowed to another ship. Guns were going off all around and his trip was very dangerous. He climbed up onto another of his ships named the Niagara. He aimed the guns from the Niagara at two British ships. Soon those ships were badly damaged and the British fleet gave up. Perry had done it.

Ask: How do you think he felt?

Oliver Hazard Perry took an old envelope and wrote a message to General Harrison, who was in charge. He said, "We have met the enemy and they are ours: two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop."

Ask: Who can tell what Perry meant by this? (We fought the enemy and we won! We captured six of their ships.)

This was an important battle for the Americans because now they were in charge of Lake Erie again, but this was just a part of the War of 1812.

Constellation Activity

The blackline master and directions are provided by the Maryland Historical Society. While the ship portrayed is the Constellation, not the Constitution, it is representative of the ships of the time. It may be interesting for the students to see that the ships were truly at the mercy of the sea and that bad weather could decide a battle just as easily as the cannons could.

If there is time your students may enjoy coloring and assembling this model.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 7- James and Dolley Madison


Tell Dolley Madison's contribution to America.

Tell the name of the President's house and the reason for the name.

Using Dolley Madison's example, choose items important for family's history.


Picture of the White House

Classroom map of Maryland

Classroom map of the world

Blackline - My Family's History

Suggested Books

Morris, Richard B. The War of 1812. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co., 1985.

Smith-Baranzini, Marlene and Howard Egger-Bovet. Brown Paper School US Kids History: Book of the New American Nation. California: The Yolla Bolly Press, 1995.

Quackenbush, Robert. James Madison & Dolley Madison and Their Times. New York: Pippin Press, 1992.


Be sure the children understand that England and Great Britain are the same country. They will see it marked both ways on maps and hear the people referred to as English or British interchangeably. This may be confusing to some students.


Review the events of the War of 1812 up to this point. Students should be able to tell why the U.S. went to war with England again; what impressment means and what Captain Perry meant when he said, "We have met the enemy and they are ours." Students should be able to locate England, France, the United States and the Great Lakes on a map.

Ask: Where did the people who made up the government at this time meet? (Washington) If students do not know this, remind them that when America was just getting started, our government met and made decisions in Philadelphia. Then the center of government became Washington, where it remains today. Point out or help the students locate Washington on the map of Maryland. Show the access by means of the Chesapeake Bay. Remind the students of some of the government buildings that could be found then and still can today (Library of Congress, the Treasury, the Patent Office, the Capitol [Congress's house], the President's house).

Ask: Who was president of the United States during this time of the War of 1812? (James Madison) Ask: Do you remember his wife's name? (Dolley) Remember that I told you that she would do something special during the war? This is that story.

The war had been going on for two years now. It was 1814. The U.S. and England continued having battles on land, on the Atlantic Ocean and on the Great Lakes. The British decided to try another attack route by water. That route was the Chesapeake Bay.

The British thought that they could do the most damage to the United States by attacking BCP DRAFT HIST 18

Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 7- James and Dolley Madison

the center of the government. If they were able to destroy buildings and important papers they could throw the government into total disorder. They planned to sail up the Chesapeake Bay and

straight to Washington.

The ships filled with four thousand men came up the Patuxent River and landed. They marched on to Washington and there they began to burn all the important buildings. One of the

buildings they thought should be destroyed was the home of the President and his wife. This was Dolley's house.

Dolley was in her house preparing to have dinner when news came that the British were marching on Washington. Everyone was doing his best to get out of the city. Dolley did not leave right away however; instead, she gathered up important government papers, silverware, velvet curtains and a portrait of George Washington. She knew that these things needed to be saved. These were special things that could not be replaced. The painting of George Washington could not be done again. Dolley saved these things for all Americans.

She was a very brave and wise lady. She did not let these special parts of our history go.

The British soldiers came and burned as much as they could of the city of Washington. When they were through in Washington they decided to march on to Baltimore. At the same time British ships would sail to the harbor of Baltimore. Fort McHenry would be their first stop.

My Family's History

Say: Dolley Madison made very important decisions when she saved the things she did. She knew that Americans everywhere would treasure the portrait of George Washington. Washington had died in 1799, so he could not pose for another painting. The government papers, the silverware and the curtains also belonged to the American people. We can see them today because of Dolley Madison.

Sometimes people living today need to make quick decisions about saving something from their homes when a flood or some other disaster is about to happen. When you only have a few minutes to make a decision you really need to think about what is important. Take a minute to think about the things in your house that are very special. Are there some special things that have been in your family for a very long time? Is there a photograph of someone in your family who died a long time ago? Is there a quilt that belonged to your great-great grandmother? Is there a piece of furniture that belonged to one of your relatives from long ago? If you had to choose what to save for your family, what would it be?

After the children have had a few minutes to think about the topic ask them to share their ideas. List their ideas on the board and assist the children in recognizing items that are valuable historically or sentimentally, as opposed to simply expensive such as television sets, Nintendo, etc.

Help each child to select an item or items to use. If a child can't think of anything allow him/her to save something that he/she would have liked to have from a relative of long ago. Suggest something that they might have heard the family tell about, such as the hat a great-great grandfather always wore, etc.

Tell the children to draw the item or items on the paper titled My Family's History and below the picture tell why that item(s) is special.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 8 - "The Star-Spangled Banner"


Color a picture of Francis Scott Key and Fort McHenry.

Tell the events that lead to Key's writing.

Measure the actual size of the Fort McHenry flag.

Define and identify bay, coast, harbor, and peninsula.



Copy of "The Star-Spangled Banner"

Blackline from the Maryland Historical Society, crayons

Picture of Fort McHenry (aerial view, if possible)

Recording of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (optional)

Ribbon or rope lengths, paper stars

Suggested Books

Jones, Rebecca C. The Biggest (and Best) Flag That Ever Flew. Centreville: Tidewater Publishers, 1988.

Kroll, Steven. By the Dawn's Early Light. New York: Scholastic, 1994.

Spier, Peter. The Star-Spangled Banner. New York: Doubleday, 1973.

Teacher Reference/Field Trips

The original manuscript of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is housed at The Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument Street, 21201 (685-3750, ext. 334).

The Flag House offers a 45 minute, off site presentation in 'living history" costume for elementary students. 844 East Pratt Street, 21202 (837-1793)

Fort McHenry National Monument, East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230 (962-4299)

Visit the fort where the Star-Spangled Banner flew.


National Museum of History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20560 (202-357-2747) Flag that inspired F. S. Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner," on view every hour on the hour.

Background for Teachers

Information regarding Francis Scott Key and "The Star-Spangled Banner" is also included in Second Grade - Music Lesson 4 - Patriotic Songs. You may wish to read both lessons and combine if necessary.



Remind the students that the War of 1812 had been going on for some time now. The city of Washington had been burned and the British ships were moving up the Chesapeake Bay toward other cities.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 8 - "The Star-Spangled Banner"

Show a map of Maryland and have the students locate the Chesapeake Bay. Be sure that your students can define and identify the terms bay, coast, peninsula and harbor. Use them as you refer to the state of Maryland. Point out how dangerous it was to have the British ships sail up the Bay. Show the various sites that were in danger (Washington, Bladensburg, North Point, Fort McHenry).

Read a story about the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" or tell the students the


Francis Scott Key was a Washington lawyer. A good friend of his, Dr. William Beanes, was arrested by the British and was being held prisoner on one of their ships. Dr. Beanes had been caring for injured British soldiers. Francis Scott Key went to President Madison and asked permission to try to help his friend. The President gave Francis permission to go with Colonel John S. Skinner to the British fleet under a flag of truce. The flag of truce allowed Francis and Skinner to talk to the British in peace.

Colonel Skinner and Francis Scott Key went down the Potomac River by boat to meet the British ships. They talked to Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane about Dr. Beanes, and finally he agreed to let Beanes go, but not until the British finished their attack on Baltimore. Until that was over Beanes, Skinner, and Key would all have to stay as prisoners on the British ship so they couldn't tell the Americans about the attack.

For three days the ship and others headed up the Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. Finally they arrived outside of Fort McHenry, which was being commanded by Major George Armistead. Flying over the fort was a huge flag that was forty-two feet by thirty feet. At that time it was the largest flag in the world. It was newly made by Mary Pickersgill and her daughter, Caroline. Because there was no government money available to buy it, Armistead had paid for the flag himself. It was a special flag with fifteen stars and fifteen stripes.

At dawn on September 11th, 1814 the bombardment of Fort McHenry began. All day long the ship fired at the fort and the fort fired back. There was so much smoke from the guns that it was hard to see. The cannons made a terrible noise. By dusk, Beanes, Skinner and Key could barely see the fort and the flag.

All night the battle wore on and it was difficult to tell who would win. The three men were not sure who would rule the fort when the morning came; they feared that the British might win.

Morning came and Dr. Beanes, Colonel Skinner and Francis looked toward the fort. There, torn and soaked and drooping was the American flag. The men were so happy and proud! Francis, who had written poetry all his life, took an old letter out of his pocket and began writing

about what he had seen.

The British began leaving the area and abandoned the attack. Dr. Beanes, Colonel Skinner, and Francis were able to go safely back to Baltimore. There, in a hotel on Baltimore Street Francis Scott Key completed the stanzas of the song we now call "The Star-Spangled Banner." Printed copies of Francis's poem were given out in the city the next day.


Tell the children: The story of "The Star-Spangled Banner" has special meaning for Marylanders because the national anthem was written in our state. It is also important because BCP DRAFT HIST 21

Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 8 - "The Star-Spangled Banner"

the song was written after Francis Scott Key watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry. We are lucky because we can visit Fort McHenry; we can see "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Key's own

handwriting at the MD Historical Society; we can visit the house where Mary Pickersgill, the

flagmaker, lived and sewed; and we can see the flag at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Read the first stanza of "The Star-Spangled Banner," stopping to explain terms that might be unfamiliar to the students like perilous, ramparts, gallantly streaming, and proof. Be sure the

students know that banner is another name for flag and that star-spangled means sprinkled with

stars that are bright like the sparkling bits of metal called spangles.

Oh, say, can you see by the dawn's early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,

O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

If you have a recording available you may wish to play it for the class. Singing the national anthem can be difficult. Tell the children that people try out for the honor of singing it at a public event.

Ask the children to name times when they have heard this song. Many will be familiar with it being sung at sports events like baseball or football games. Some may have heard it sung at some special event. Tell them that we stand when we hear the national anthem and many people put their hands over their hearts in honor of what it represents..

Ask: How do you think Francis Scott Key felt while he was on the British ship and they were firing on Fort McHenry? (frightened, worried, scared, angry, anxious) Then ask: How do you think Francis Scott Key felt when the morning came and he could see the American flag flying over the fort? (proud, relieved, happy, excited, thrilled)

You may wish to distribute the pictures from the Maryland Historical Society and allow the students to color them. Remind them to color the American flag correctly.

Measuring the Fort McHenry flag

To help the children understand the size of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry and how large it needed to be in order to be seen, take the class to a large open space like the playground or gymnasium. Help them to measure a rectangle 30 feet by 42 feet. Have children stand at each of the four corners and have other children fill in the perimeter at intervals, holding lengths of ribbon or rope between them to make a closed line. Fifteen children can stand inside one corner and form the fifteen stars. Allow each of these children to hold a large star as the class forms a living flag.

Geography terms

bay - a body of water forming an indentation of the shoreline, larger than a cove

coast - land at the edge of the ocean

harbor - a body of water along the shore deep enough for harboring a ship

peninsula - an area of land surrounded by water on all sides but one


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 9 - Battle of New Orleans


Locate the Gulf of Mexico on a U.S. map.

Locate New Orleans and Louisiana on a U.S. map.

Define and locate peninsula and bay.



Classroom size U.S. map.

Suggested Books

Morris, Richard. The War of 1812. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co.,1985.


Tell the students that the man whom they will learn about in this lesson will show up again as Dolley Madison did. This man will make decisions and do a very special job, too. This man will become the president of the United States. His name is Andrew Jackson.

Andrew Jackson fought many battles with Creek and Cherokee Indians. He and his troops in Tennessee forced the Indians out of the southern and western part of the land that would become Alabama. When Jackson and his men heard about a possible British attack on New Orleans they decided to march south and travel toward Louisiana.

The Americans had been proving that they were much better shots than the British. Ask: Can you tell why? Help the students to recognize that the Americans were living in a frontier country. It was not nearly as civilized as England, and the people in America needed to able to protect themselves at all times in all kind of situations. This was not as true for the English.

The British fleet sailed into New Orleans and the American troops were waiting for them. There was a danger that the British would get control of the Mississippi River and then could control more of America.

The British attacked and the Americans fought in return. The British numbered almost 5,300 to 4,500 Americans. The fight did not take long. Two big attacks took place in barely one half hour. Three British generals were killed and two thousand British soldiers were killed or wounded. The Americans had thirteen wounded and eight dead. It was a huge victory for the Americans, but it was a very sad victory.

Remember when we talked about communication at the very beginning of the War of 1812? There was no way to let people know what was going on across the world, across the country, or even across the state. There was important news to be shared, too. The war was over! The war had ended two weeks before the Battle of New Orleans. There was no reason why all those people had to die. America had a hero, but it was a terrible price to pay.


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 10 - U.S. flag


Explain the meaning of the colors of the U.S. flag.

Explain the significance of the symbols on the U.S. flag.

Design and make a flag.


U.S. flag

Pictures of earlier U.S. flags

Construction paper, scissors, glue


Suggested Books (Read alouds)

Fisher, Leonard Everett. Stars and Stripes. New York: Holiday House, 1993.

Jones, Rebecca C. The Biggest (and Best) Flag That Ever Flew. Centreville: Tidewater

Publishers, 1988.

Ryan, Pam Munoz. The Flag We Love. Watertown: Charlesbridge Publishing, 1996.

Teacher Reference

Copycat Magazine - May/June 1996 - "Flag Fever" pp. 32-37. (flag reproducibles)

Giblin, James Cross. Fireworks, Picnics, and Flags. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1983.

Kent, Deborah. The Star-Spangled Banner. Chicago: Children's Press, 1995.

Oxlade, Chris. Flags. New York: Franklin Watts, 1995.

Schaffer, Frank. Our Flag, Capital and Government - Blackline Reproducible (Gr. 2-3). Torrance: Frank Schaffer Publications, 1988. (flag reproducibles)

Background for teachers

Select a read aloud before beginning this lesson. The Flag We Love is an especially beautiful new book with bright colorful illustrations, poems for text and much information about this national symbol.

Stars and Stripes has simple flag graphics with the Pledge of Allegiance as the text. It is especially good for showing the various American flags used.

The Biggest (and Best) Flag That Ever Flew is a charming story that is most appropriate with "The Star-Spangled Banner" lesson but can be used here as well.



Tell the students that a flag stands for something. It can have one color or many colors. It can have any symbols like stars, moons, or trees and be any shape or size. Display a U.S. flag. Ask the children to tell the things that make up this flag. Have them identify the colors and count the number of stars and stripes.

Tell the students that the United States flag did not always look this way. Remind them that long ago the colonies belonged to England, and the first flag of the colonies that was flown had thirteen stripes and the flag of England, the Union Jack, in one corner. Display a picture of the British flag or the Continental flag so the students can see what you mean. Ask them to tell you what about this flag is the same as our present day flag (red, white, blue colors, thirteen red

and white stripes).


Second Grade - American Civilization - Lesson 10 - U.S. flag


Remind the students that when the colonies joined together to become the United States they needed a new flag. That flag, which some people think was made by Betsy Ross, had thirteen stars in a circle that were to form a new constellation and thirteen stripes for the thirteen colonies that became states. The colors were still red, white and blue. There was no rule about the size or kind of stars, so flags from around this time look very different from each other.

Review the War of 1812 and how the flag had changed to include fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, one for each of the states. Students should be able to tell that this was the flag that Francis Scott Key saw waving at Fort McHenry when he wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" in 1814. Ask if any students have been to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. They may have seen this exact flag in the National Museum of History and Technology. It was the last American flag to have an equal number of stars and stripes.

Tell the students that as the years went on and more states were added, the flag changed to include a star for each state and thirteen stripes for the thirteen colonies. The flag that had 48 stars flew the longest, from 1912 to 1959; the flag today has 50 stars.

Ask the children to name places where they see an American flag hanging. Tell them that all government buildings display the American flag because it symbolizes, or stands for, our country. Tell them that an American flag flew over a schoolhouse as early as 1812 in Colrain, Massachusetts. Schoolchildren back then saved their pennies to buy American flags for their schools.

Can the children think of other places they've seen the American flag? It can be painted on vehicles like cars, ships, airplanes, and tanks. Sometimes it is an embroidered patch on a policeman or fireman's uniform. Tell them that the flag the astronauts put on the moon was made of metal so it would last a long time.

The children may have their own ideas about why the flag is colored as it is. Tell them that no one knows for sure why the colors red, white, and blue were chosen but a resolution some time after the flag was made defined the meanings of those colors. Red stands for hardiness and courage, white stands for purity and innocence, and blue stands for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. Be sure that the children understand the meaning of each of those words. They should be able to explain the reasons for the stars and stripes and give simple definitions for the meanings of the colors.


Constructing a Flag

You may wish to have the children make replicas of past American flags or allow them to create their own American flags. You may wish to have them brainstorm possible symbols to include on their flags (the eagle, the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty) and discuss color combinations they might choose to use other than red, white, and blue.

If you choose to use the activities in Copycat Magazine it is possible to actually make a flag booklet that includes the Continental Colors, the Betsy Ross flag, the first Star-Spangled Banner, Stars and Stripes, the American Flag today.

You may also find the craft book, Flags to be useful. It contains chapters on the origins of flags, flags at sea, etc. It also includes a chapter on designing and making a flag.