Thursday, March 2, 2017

March 3 - National Anthem Day

One of the things I love about our little two-room school (yes, my kids attend a public school) is the way they start each day. Both classes - all 34 students - meet together to say the Pledge of Allegiance, then different students each day get to pick which songs they will all sing. Many of the songs in their repertoire are patriotic, which means they all know songs that many adults don't know the words to! Of course, a favorite is our National Anthem, which has its own special day today.


Well, first we need to learn the song, right?

Can You Sing

This title is one in a series about American symbols. I highly recommend the whole set! In addition to giving a simple explanation of the history behind the song, the author puts each line into words kids can easily understand, in the form of a conversation between a teacher and her students. The words and music run along the bottom of the page.

A few other titles to learn about the history of our anthem:

The Star-Spangled Banner: The Story Behind Our National Anthem

A basic history of the War of 1812, and the battle that inspired the words.


Social Studies

* Ask most Americans which war inspired our National Anthem, and you will probably hear "The American Revolution." Confession time...a week ago, I would have said the same thing. In fact, all I really remember from history class about the War of 1812 is that...well, it started in 1812, right? Sorry, Mr. Lieber!

The Internet to the rescue! For a basic summary (wait - we attacked Canada??) followed by a short quiz, check out

* Our flag in 1814 did not look exactly like it does now. Can your kids spot the difference? Take a look at the changes our flag has gone through over the years. Where does your state lie in the order of statehood? Could there ever be a 51st state? Talk about our territories, or states that have threatened to divide over the years. Create a flag that would include new states - would you add stars, or come up with a completely new design?


* Patterns and symmetry. Look at the patterns on our flag - the alternating colors of the stripes, and the number of stars in each row. Design flags for fictitious places with varying numbers of stars, stripes, colors, and other symbols.

* Music is all about math! The Star Spangled Banner was written in 3/4 time, what does that mean? Learn what the quarter, half, and whole note look like. Draw them out in patterns, and clap the rhythms together. Then clap out a rhythm, and ask them to draw it! Google to find "free music symbol flash cards", or use these from Music Fun.


* What other patriotic American songs can you learn? The Boy and Girl Scouts have a pretty comprehensive list, with a link to click for each one.

* What do other nations' anthems sound like? Is there a common theme in the words?

* If your family had its own anthem, what would it sound like? Is there a song already written that you think sums up your family's ideals? Or can you come up with your own words? Would the music be solemn, cheerful, fast, slow?


Sir Frances Scott Key caught glimpses of the American flag every time a bomb "burst in air". How much can your eye take in during a brief flash of light? Set up a tray with small objects from around the house, and bring it into a dark room with your kids. Use a flashlight to give them a quick burst of light, then see how many objects they can list.


Anything red, white and blue makes a good snack today! Look around the kitchen for berries, gelatin, whipped cream, cream cheese, etc.

Other Web Sites to Explore

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