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.
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.
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!
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...) Beyoncé 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!