Teaching about America

Teaching about America

by Judie Haynes

Feelings of patriotism are very strong in the United States at this time in our history. It is very important to teach your English language learners about the songs and symbols of America so that they show respect at appropriate times.

Teaching about the American Flag

Your English language learners should know about the U.S. flag and what it stands for.

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. 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. You can find at copy of the flag at U.S. flag printout

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 must stand respectfully during the Pledge but are not required to say the words. Exlpain that Americans pledge allegiance to the flag to show their loyalty to their country. Demonstrate 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 Songs

1. Teach your students what the correct behavior is during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Have students listen to patriotic songs about the flag on the internet at Star Spangled Banner. The words to the Star Spangled Banner are difficult but playing the music will help students recognize the U.S. national anthem and it is a good opportunity to teach students to stand at attention. The words and musical score can be seen at Star Spangled Banner Musical Score.

2. Teach students the words to"God Bless America." Go to Kate Smith's rendition. Help students recognize this patriotic song.

Other Activities to Teach About America

1. Explain to students that a seal is used to represent something such as a country. Download a blank seal from U.S. seal. Have students follow the directions to color or give directions orally.A colored copy of the U.S. seal can be found at The Great Seal of the United States. Ask students to design a personal seal to represent themselves or their family.

2. Show students a picture of the Statue of Liberty. Have them color a picture from Enchanted Learning and write a few sentences about this American symbol. Have students brainstorm what the Statue is a symbol of.

3. Have students view pictures of the Bald Eagle. A coloring page of our national bird can be found at Enchanted Learning.

4. Have students look at pictures of Uncle Sam. Print out a picture and ask students to write a few sentences about him. This is a good opportunity to show students how to find information on the internet.

4. Take your students on a virtual field trip. Go to My America Field Trip, and click on one of the numerous virtual trips.


Activity Downloads

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

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.

Using the Internet for Content Based Instruction
Need ideas to enhance your content-based ESL instruction? Make your thematic units come alive and put pizzaz in your lessons by incorporating internet sites into your plans. If you teach small groups, you only need one computer to pique your studentsí interest.

Resource Picks

History Wiz.com
History Wiz.com comprises a huge number of resources for students. Enhance your lessons with this impressive site .

Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids
This informative site has a wide range of useful information for teaching students in Grades K-12. Listen to Yankee Doodle Dandy and learn the background to this famous American song which dates from before the Revolutionary War. A community map with a post office, police station, and hospital is an excellent teaching resource for students in K-1. Access quick facts about Washington D.C. for students in grades 2-4. Try the games and puzzles about U.S. presidents for grades 5-8.

Midnight Rider: Paul Revere Virtual Museum
This informative site is comprised of 5 Exhibit Halls including the real story of Paul Revere's Ride, the Longfellow poem, information on Colonial Boston and music from the Revolutionary War.

Betsy Ross Homepage
Take a virtual tour of the Betsy Ross House, read the story of her life. See flags from various times in American history, and learn some flag trivia.

Symbols of U.S. Government
This compelling site is part of the Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids. It contains a picture and text about seven symbols of the United States as well as pictures and a short text about numerous monuments. There are also recordings of eight patriotic songs.