When the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia determined the flag specifications of the newly founded United States on June 14, 1777, each shape and color was chosen for a specific reason. First graders can certainly understand and memorize the flag's symbols, as long as you present them in a comprehensible manner. Fun classroom activities can help you in this task, allowing you to describe the geographical, historical and ideological background of the U.S. flag.
Each star on the blue section of the map represents a state of the Union and every time a new state joins the U.S., a new star is added. To teach the stars' symbolism to first graders, place a star sticker on each state on a U.S. map. Read the name of each state according to its date of statehood and ask one student at a time to find the state on the map, grab its sticker and place it over a white star of the classroom's flag. With this activity, young children can also understand the gradual growth of the country.
The stripes on the United States flag represent the original 13 colonies that revolted against the then Kingdom of Great Britain. To help children understand which were those colonies (as their area differed from today's corresponding states), display an anachronistic map of Colonial America. Ask six children to make one long white rectangle each and seven students to make similar red rectangles. Write the name of a colony on each stripe and stick them over the corresponding space on the map.
According to the U.S. Government Printing Office, the flag's colors didn't have a specific meaning at the time of the Second Continental Congress, although they were significant for the Great Seal of 1782. In particular, the red color represents valor and bravery. You can use this color symbolism to discuss moments in the country's history when Americans showed these values, like during conflicts, such as the War of Independence and the two World Wars.
Blue and White Color
Blue on the flag signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice, while white represents purity and innocence. Use examples of difficult moments in history where ordinary Americans had to show courage and overcome difficulties, such as in the Great Depression of the 1930s. In addition, mention the role of the Constitution in ensuring justice for all people living in the U.S. Because you are talking to first graders, use simple language and -- if possible -- show pictures of those past events or documents.
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