Thursday, June 11, 2009

US Flag Day, June 14: Montessori History Lessons and Activities

NAMC montessori history activities US national flag day american flagFlag Day in the United States is celebrated annually on June 14. It commemorates June 14, 1777, the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 that officially declared the Stars and Stripes as the national symbol. Legend has it that in 1776, George Washington asked Betsy Ross, a seamstress in Philadelphia, to make a flag from a sketch that he gave her. The idea of an official day to celebrate the national flag appears to have taken root in the late 1800s. In 1885, Bernard John (BJ) Cigrand, a Wisconsin school teacher, placed a flag on his desk on June 14, the 108th anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. He called the day the flag’s birthday, and asked his students to write essays about the flag, and continued for many years to advocate for “Flag Day”, or “Flag Birthday”. Over time others, including New York City Professor George Bolch (1889), principal of a free kindergarten for the underprivileged, and organizations in New York, Philadelphia and Illinois, began to commemorate this day, particularly in public schools.

The entire week of June 14 is now considered National Flag Week, and during this time American citizens are encouraged to display the American flag at home. Government buildings are also expected to fly the flag. There are often local events, parades, and special themes that cities and towns organize for Flag Day. Organizations such as the National Flag Day Foundation and historic sites such as the Betsy Ross House will also hold special events and observances. This week is a wonderful opportunity to create related activities that make US history come alive for your students!

US Flag Day, June 14: Montessori History Lessons and Activities

On September 13, 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the song “The Star-Spangled Banner” following the British attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore, MD. Boston educator Francis Bellamy is credited with writing the Pledge of Allegiance, which was first published in a youth magazine called “The Youth’s Companion” in September, 1892, and distributed to local schools in leaflet form.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the establishment of the Flag Resolution of 1777 in 1916, and on August 3, 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress, officially designating June 14 as National Flag Day.
NAMC montessori history activities US national flag day waving american flags
Flag Day Activity Ideas for the Montessori Classroom
  • Create an activity where Montessori students learn what the stars and stripes represent, as related to the Flag Resolution of 1777.
  • Research the US flag and its history, including nicknames for the flag (i.e. Star-Spangled banner, Old Glory, Stars and Stripes). This could also lead to research of other national symbols such as the bald eagle and the Statue of Liberty.
  • Research people and organizations related to the history of the flag and Flag Day (i.e., BJ Cigrand, William Kerr, George Bolch, Betsy Ross, Barbara Fritchie, etc.)
  • Study/learn the words to the Star-Spangled Banner, and the Pledge of Allegiance, and their origin/history.
  • Make a timeline and/or art display that illustrates how the US flag has changed over time.
  • Perform living dioramas of historical moments involving the flag (Francis Scott Key writing the Star-Spangled Banner, Betsy Ross sewing the flag, etc.).
Flag Day Books for the Montessori Classroom
  • Flag Day, by Kelly Bennett
  • What Freedom Means to Me: A Flag Day Story, by Heather French Henry
  • Flag Day (Our Country's Holidays), by Sheri Dea (available in a Spanish edition)
  • El Dia de la bandera / Flag Day, by Mir Tamim Ansary
  • Coming to America: The Story of Immigration, by Betsy Maestro
  • F is for Flag, by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
  • Flag Day, by Kelly Bennett
  • L is for Liberty, by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
  • The Flag We Love, by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • The Pledge of Allegiance, by Francis Bellamy
  • Red, White and Blue: The Story of the American Flag, by John Herman
  • America the Beautiful Illustrated, by Neil Waldman
  • Betsy Ross: Designer of Our Flag, by Ann Weil
  • The Star-Spangled Banner Illustrated, by Peter Spier
Resources
NAMC's 9-12 US History manual is full of detailed lessons and activities ready to use in your Montessori classroom.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, June 11, 2009.

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