Monday, June 11, 2012

Flag Day

Happy Flag Day This Week,

The first flags had 13 stripes (same as today's) as well as a 13 stars, but how those stars were arranged depended somewhat on the flag maker.  The flag commonly regarded as the "first" depicted the stars in a circle.  These represented the 13 colonies.  Discuss that as more states were formed, more stars were added.  The stars are arranged into "arrays" or patterns that are easier to count than a random smattering would be.  The current flag has 5 rows of 6 stars and 4 rows of 5 stars.  Let your 4th grade or older child calculate how many stars the current flag has using this information. The stripes still represent the original 13 colonies.  The colors represent purity (white) justice (blue) and the blood shed for our freedom (red). 

There are actually rules about how to treat our flag.  These rules include that the flag should never touch the ground and that one shouldn't "wear" the flag as clothing.  When a flag becomes torn and tattered, it is supposed to be "retired" in a ceremony that includes the burning of the flag.  Last I knew, the only non-military personal allowed to carry out this ceremony are specifically trained scouts (there is a badge that is earned along with the training).  Also the American flag is never supposed to fly lower than any other flag above American soil.   
Some things you might try:
  • Compare our flag to those of other countries then ask your child/children if they'd like to work together to design a family flag.  If you make sure each item on the flag is symbolic of something important to your family you can use this as an inroad for discussing family values.
  • If you have a kid in scouts, look into earning badges related to flag ceremonies (colors etc.)  I know in girl scouts they fall into the "legacy" category.
  • Although, as I understand it, we really don't know Betsy Ross was the first flag designer.  In fact, it was a long while before there was only one version of the flag used by the populace and many different styles were used because people generally made their own.  However, Betsy was friends with George Washington and is probably a good bet for one of the early flag designers.  Go ahead and have one of your kids (that is working on research skills) read a little more about her and share the information gleaned with the rest of the family.

  • Learn more about other symbols that were considered as parts of the flag and how the flag has evolved through our history.  
  • Check out how to make a 5 pointed star (like those on the flag) with only one slice of the scissors.  According to legend, president Washington thought the stars would have six points because they would be easier to cut out of fabric.  When Betsy heard this, she quickly amazed the president by making a few folds on some fabric and took one slice of the scissors and then unfolded the fabric to reveal a five pointed start.  This little act, supposedly won her the honor of being the one to design the flag.
  • Do a multimedia rendition of the flag by creating a collage of other symbols that merge to become a picture of the flag together.
  • There are a multitude of flag crafts one can try all you have to do is a search for "US Flag" and you'll find recipes as well as crafts that result in the depiction of the United States Flag in one way or another.  I have a few favorites "pinned" myself.

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