One of my favorite June lessons is based around Flag Day, which is celebrated in the United States on June 14th. Flag day is an opportunity to teach ELs about the U.S. flag at the end of the school year. The unit is composed of many hands-on, kinesthetic activities with a good measure of music. All of these activities can also be used for summer school lessons to celebrate Independence Day on July 4th. (See my blog, 6 Activities to Teach ELs About U.S. Independence Day, from June 2015).
Here are some websites for teachers and students:
- Fast Flag Facts is for teachers so that they can review their flag facts.
- When and How to Display a Flag gives teachers information about the U.S. flag.
- Flag Day Facts can be used by intermediate ELs.
- Enchanted Learning Flag Day Crafts has some craft projects for young ELs for Flag Day.
- 12 Fun Flag Day Activities for Kids has a variety of activities that can also be used for Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day.
- Flag Day on Pinterest has activities for students of all ages. Many of them are Teachers Pay Teachers activities that are not free.
Teaching About the American Flag
Flag Day is an excellent opportunity to teach your ELs about U.S. flag. Here are some activities that can be used in Grades 3-6.
1. Download the The U.S. Flag Fact Sheet. Teach vocabulary such as stars, stripes, field, colonies, states. Be sure to use pictures to help your ELs understand the lesson.
2. Introduce Flag Day books and videos to your students.
- Flag Day gives ELs a background about Flag Day. (Grades 3–6)
- Flag Day for Kids is an easy-to-read book for children. (Grades 1–4)
- You’re a Grand Ole Flag is a YouTube video with the words to the song.
- Pledge of Allegiance is a YouTube video for children.
- Red, White and Blue, The Story of the American Flag is a book that young ELs can read by themselves.
3. Ask students what colors are used on the flag from their home country. Give ELs a blank flag template and have them make a flag from their home flag, or a personal flag. Hold a a parade with the flags. Students can also make instruments for their parade from recycled materials. Have them make
Teach “The Pledge of Allegiance”
4. Review the reason for “The Pledge of Allegiance” with your ELs. I was always surprised how many of my students didn’t know why their classmates said “The Pledge of Allegiance.” Although most of our ELs are not American citizens, they should learn why U.S. children salute the flag in schools. This is an important part of U.S. elementary school culture.
5. Teach the words and their meaning to “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.” Here is a copy of the Pledge in Spanish. Tell them what the words of “The Pledge of Allegiance” mean. Download this Pledge of Allegiance activity. This activity is good for Grades 3–5.
6. ELs need to know what the appropriate behavior is during the flag salute. Explain that they should stand respectfully and face the flag. They are not required to say the pledge or hold their hands over their hearts (according to a Supreme Court decision in 1943).
Listen to Patriotic Music
7. Have students listen to patriotic songs, including “The Star Spangled Banner.” I Include songs such as “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Yankee Doodle.” The words to “The Star Spangled Banner” are difficult for ELs, but playing the music will help students recognize it when they hear it at a school assemblies or sporting events. The website Star Spangled Banner has an interactive flag that intermediate and advanced ELs can explore. Here are some activity sheets for beginning ELs that students in Grades 4–6 can complete at the end of the lesson.
8. I cowrote this Flag Day song for my ELs to the tune of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again.” Preteach the vocabulary such as cheer, Betsy Ross, Old Glory, Stars and Stripes:
When Flag Day comes in June this year,
We’ll cheer, we’ll cheer.
On June fourteenth it will be here,
We’ll cheer, we’ll cheer.
Betsy Ross, Old Glory, too
Stars and Stripes, red, white and blue.
And we’ll all be proud when Flag Day comes this year.
Let us know if you try any of these activities. How did they work out?