Sunday, June 30, 2013

4th of July Activity - for 2014

Our 4th of July activity went okay, but I came home and saw this post on the FB group and loved it.  Taking notes for next year!!

Lindsey Hoxer Ohlin1:29pm Jun 30
I just wanted to share with you the amazing Independence Day singing time that we had today! This was definitely not my doing because until last night I wasn't sure what I was doing. I only had the props but not the plan lol.....Anyway I had been researching and talking to you guys about ideas all week long (and been looking for much longer than that) because I am very very in to patriotism and I feel like it is SUCH an important thing that our kids grow to love this country. I needed this lesson to be just right and touch the kids in their hearts and not just be a "fun" activity. Anyway, after much prayer, stressing and work I finally got my answer last night and even as the lesson went on today things kind of changed along the way.

So these were the materials I had:
-star cut outs (that were about the same size as the flag I was using).
-Oversized vinyl American Flag (any large size flag would do)
-string with clothespins
-red, white and blue colored chalk
-Uncle Sam plastic hat
-violin for live playing of the song (or a recording would work great too)
-two extra people to help you out (this is a necessity that I didn't realize until after I started the lesson!! lol)
-mini toothpick flags that i taped on each chair before class so that they stuck up from the top of the chair (it looked really cool!)

I started out with an attention-getter where I asked them what our national anthem is and if they know who wrote it. I explained to them that it is the Star Spangled Banner and that it was written by Francis Scott Key. I then asked them to close their eyes tightly, turned off the lights in the room, and told them to imagine that they were each Francis Scott Key back in 1814 on the night that he wrote the words to the song. I set the scene by describing where we were, how it was hot and muggy, and that a war was going on etc. and began reading the story describing the night that Francis Scott Key had before writing the poem. (If anyone would like me to post up the story I wrote and my actual lesson plan I can do that, just let me know).

While I was reading the story I had my helpers hang up my flag up on the wall where the kids could see it when they opened their eyes (just like in the story of Francis Scott Key) and at the end of the story it says how he wrote the following words and at that time I began to play the tune on my violin while another leader read the words to the song as I played. When the song was over I had the lights turned on and told them to open their eyes. Immediately they noticed the big flag and then we discussed what it felt like for Francis that night when he finally saw the flag and how they feel when they see the flag etc.

Anyway I told them how the words in the song are kind of difficult to understand and that we were going to learn the words and the first verse of the song today. I had written on the chalkboard the entire first line of the song but changed 11 of the difficult words to their synonyms. Those words I wrote in either red or blue rather than white and underlined them so that they were obvious (So for example "O, say can you see by the SUNRISE's early light...."). I had strung 11 stars across the bottom of the chalkboard with string and the clothespins to hold them and on the back of the stars were the CORRECT words. So they would come up and put on the Uncle Sam hat and pick one of the stars and read it out loud and then try to figure out which word to replace on the board. Then when they figured it out we would erase the incorrect word that was in colored chalk and replace it with the correct word in white. They would then take that star over to the flag and tape it up on top of one of the stars. Then I would make sure they understood that particular word and then we went over the words to the first phrase in the song and would sing that part of the song. This went on like that until all the stars were done and the entire verse was written correctly on the board. Then by that time we had gone through the whole song and I told them we would sing the entire song at that point. We discussed what we do when the song is sang (hand over heart, stand up, take off hats, face the flag etc) and we all stood up and sang the entire song with our hands over our hearts.

I then testified to them that this land was given to us by God and that it was no accident that Francis Scott Key wrote down his feelings about that night as the song was truly inspired. I told them how much I love the flag and this country and asked that they always respect the song and the flag and remember that it is a blessing from God to have them. Then i handed out the stickers that say "Proud to be an American" and they got to keep the little flags that were on their chairs.

It was really, really fun and I feel like they truly learned the song, the story of the song, and the meaning all at the same time. If you want anymore info or the lesson/story I wrote let me know!!


  1. This is AWESOME!!! Will definitely try this one for next year. And not to be a hater or anything, but your blog says he wrote it in 1914. It was actually 1814 (I am guessing you knew that, but 1914 is just a typo) and it was in the War of 1812. Before our singing time, I looked up The Star Spangled Banner and Francis Scott Key on Wikipedia and found out that he was held hostage because he had gone to the British to negotiate the release of prisoners, but the British had decided that he had seen too much so kept him as a prisoner as well. He was a lawyer.(Read that last fact in PARADE) All things I didn't know. I was able to tell the kids some of that, but mostly we popped balloons with patriotic song titles inside of them (that was actually really, really fun)but I definitely want to change my activity after reading this

  2. Thanks for sharing my idea! If I wrote 1914 that was definitely a typo lol... This has definitely been my favorite singing time that I have done with the kids. It was well worth it. :)