Saturday, November 2, 2013

Oh Say Can You See...

I had the best time last week introducing my class to our National Anthem.  I always LOVE teaching my class this special song, and always want to jump right in with it first thing in September, but have found that waiting until about this time of year actually works out better. There seems to be so much to cover the first few weeks of school, that I don't want to throw it in with everything else. I love this to be special. We learn the Pledge of Allegiance right away and about our flag. I like starting the National Anthem about this time of year so we know it well by Veteran's Day.   

I begin our lesson asking the children if any of them have heard our National Anthem.  Most have heard it at baseball or football games.  I give them this quick little history about the song.  During the War of 1812- 200 years ago- American men on a ship kept watching to see if our American flag was still flying during a battle with the British.  If the Americans saw the flag, they knew that we had won the battle.  The bombs that were exploding (like fireworks) lit up the sky, and the men saw our flag flying, so they knew we had won.  A man named Francis Scott Key wrote a poem about what happened that night, and it became a very special song for our country. 

After this mini history lesson, lots of the children have questions.  Some seem really concerned wondering if the "bad guys" from that fight are now dead or at least really far away. 

Next I sing the song as I show the pictures from Peter Spier's  The Star Spangled Banner book. I love his illustrations. So do the kids.

 (On a side note-every single time I sing it, I try to start in a lower range because when I get to "and the rockets red glare" it is WAY too high for me- and sounds ridiculous. Luckily the kids are five... so no one judges.) 

After I sing us through the book, I go back and we take one page at a time and delve into some fabulous vocabulary.  Here is a paper I made (just for me) with a quick history of the song (that I condense for my kids) and the vocabulary and phrases we discuss.  If you would like a copy, just click on the picture.

The children learn it so quickly- and we review it every time we sing the song, so they really know what the song means.  I think that is important for them- and they love knowing it. I remember having to look up "rampart" the first time I decided to teach this vocabulary years ago- so I tell them that maybe they can teach their mom and dad some new words, too. 

I found this AWESOME Star Spangled Banner Freebie at the Crafty Classroom blog!  It is wonderful. I laminated the pages and made a couple classroom books. The illustrations are wonderful and really help with the vocabulary.
I also printed out these pages they have so the children can make mini books.  I wait to make these until the children really know the song and can take them home and sing it!

After our song and vocabulary lesson, we watch lots of different versions of the song sung by different artists.  I put some different versions together on this Back to School Prezi. Just click on the picture if you would like it. It is free at my TPT store!  It is part of my Fun in the Fall Prezi , but this one has more versions of the song.  The Fun in Fall Prezi got too big for any more videos, so I put them on this one.  The last four white stripes have different artists singing the National Anthem.  I sort of organized them by history, then young children singing it, then the "girls," then the "boys," as my kids call them.

You can hear a pin drop when I play the videos!  They love to hear the different people sing.  They would make good American Idol judges, too, I might add. They aren't afraid to tell it like it is.  If they don't care for Kelly Clarkson, they just tell me.  They loved Carrie Underwood.  Last year one little girl said that she sang even better than I did. (Bless her heart for even comparing...)  Beyonc√© was a favorite.  They wanted boys!  We all loved Josh Grobin.  One little boy said Justin Timberlake sounded like a "goose call," which made me laugh out loud, because he kind of did go to that high, "goose-call" range.  It's fun to see if the song is sung at a baseball game, football game, or basketball game.  The kids love seeing the HUGE flags (sometimes with REAL SOLDIERS holding it!)  We get to talk about why people stand up when it is sung and why people take off their hats to show respect for our country. 

There are also other questions like, "What is that baseball player chewing?"  I tell them baseball players chew LOTS of gum.  They think baseball players are pretty lucky because of that.  That is probably the "fact" they will go home with and share at dinner. 

A few years ago, one of my student's dads was stationed in Iraq.  Our class wrote notes and sent packages to his troop ( twenty six of them!) all year long.  They were awesome about writing back and sending pictures.  They sent us this very special flag that flew on Easter day in Iraq with a picture some of the men and women we wrote to holding a big THANK YOU banner.  My classes love studying this picture.

We talk about how today there are still many men and women working every day to be sure we are safe in our country.  To which one boy replied, "Yeah, cause the Germans might come back."  WHAT?!   I skimmed right over that one... 

During free choice, I see MANY ramparts being built and the army guys are now a favorite.  It's ok that my boys call them "Rambos" instead of "ramparts" because they will get it.  And I guess Rambo sort of fits right into the theme a little. Plus it makes me smile. 

Have a wonderful day! Thank you for stopping by!


  1. I absolutely LOVE this! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. My daughter was in Kindergarten last year and loves to sing. Thanks to us being raised around hockey, I am raising her around it too, therefore she is very familiar with Our Anthem.

    There was a Veteran's Day ceremony at her school last year, where a 4th grader sang the Star Spangled Banner. My DD was in awe and has expressed extreme desire to do the same ASAP!

    I have been racking my brain and the interwebs as to how best teach a 6 year old such a complex and sacred piece of music. This is going to help so much! I'm glad you shared it!

  3. I’m going to read this. I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing. and also This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article...


Search This Blog