Salute to the Flag

Salute to the Flag

by Judie Haynes

Flag Day is on June 14th. Celebrate it in your classroom with activities for English language learners of all ages. Your students will enjoy this unit on the American flag.

Teaching about the American Flag

Flag Day is an excellent opportunity to teach your English language learners (ELLs) about this important American holiday.

1. Teach the vocabulary of the flag. Download the The U.S. Flag Fact Sheet. Teach vocabulary such as stars, stripes, field, colonies, states. After students have practiced the vocabulary have them fill in the blanks.

2. For a great direction following activity, teach students to cut a five-pointed star using paper folding and scissors.

3. Teach this Flag Day song to your students. (To the tune of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again”)

First Stanza

Second Stanza

4. Tell students how Betsy Ross is credited with sewing the first flag but no one is sure who designed it. Have students take a virtual tour of the Betsy Ross House.

5. Ask children to name the colors of the American flag. Explain that we say the colors in a certain order: "Red, white and blue." Tell how each color has a special meaning. In the American flag, for instance, the blue stands for justice, the white stands for purity, and the red stands for courage. Put these terms into words the students can understand using examples. For example, justice means fairness; purity is clean; and courage means not afraid.

6. Explain how the symbols on the flag are also important.The American flag has fifty stars, one for each state in the United States. The thirteen stripes stand for the first thirteen colonies.

7. Brainstorm with students some of the items that are special to them. Have them create a personal or class flag, You might also teach the meanings of the colors commonly used on flags so that students can choose colors for their designs.

8. Have a parade with the flags. Help students design a paper hat using a simple newspaper fold from The Parent Site. Students can also make instruments for their parade from recycled materials.

9. Show students how to fold the U.S. flag correctly. See Flag Fold. This is a good activity to teach following directions.

The Pledge of Allegiance

1. Review with children the Pledge of Allegiance:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

2. Tell students what the appropriate behavior is during the flag salute. Explain that they may stand respectfully during the Pledge but are not required to say the words.

3. Exlpain that Americans pledge allegiance to the flag to show their loyalty to their country. Tell them what the words of the Pledge of Allegiance mean. Use the download Pledge of Allegiance activity. Have students cover up each definition with the correct word from the pledge. Cut out the word from the right hand side of the activity. Fold on the dotted line so that you have a window that opens. Cut out the entire square with the Pledge and the definitions on it and glue it to blue and red paper.

4. Explain that the word "pledge" is a synonym for the words "promise". Brainstorm with your students a list of times that they have made a promise. Work in small groups to draft an ESL class pledge, then vote on pledges and adopt one.

Patriotic Music

1. Have students listen to patriotic songs about the flag on the internet at Star Spangled Banner. Explain to students that they must stand at attention when the national anthem is played. The words are difficult but playing the music will help students recognize it and this provides a good opportunity to have students practice standing at attention.

2. Explain the background of the "Star Spangled Banner." Download a lesson plan atThe Flag House and Star Spangled Banner Museum.

3. Explain that Mary Pickersgill made a flag in 1814 that was under the new flag law. This flag had fiften stripes and fifteen stars. Go to Flag Education Program. Mary Pickersgill was commissioned during the War of 1812 to sew a large flag for Fort McHenry. This flag flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words which have become our National Anthem.


Activity Downloads

Note: To view the classroom activities, you must have Acrobat Reader intalled. Acrobat is a free application available from Adobe Systems.

PDF fileU.S. Flag (19k .PDF)

PDF filePledge of Allegiance (60k .PDF)

Related Links

Happy Birthday America!
Your new English language learners are eager to participate in the holidays celebrated in the United States. This lessons includes activities about the United States flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, and other July 4th activities.

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