Sunday, November 6, 2016

Veterans Day and the National Anthem

Hi! It's Carolyn from Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together. I found this wonderful idea for Veterans Day and wanted to share it with you.  If you didn't want to write "pray" for your public school, you could say "thank" or "think of" a Veteran.  But I just loved it- and I love to remember to pray for those wonderful people protecting our country.

Here is our Veterans Day Wall that my sweet friend Lorri, who teaches first grade across the hall from me, organized last year. We all sent a letter home with our students asking for names of relatives who were Veterans.  Families sent in the names, and we made stars to honor them on our wall.  I love how it turned out.  You should have heard the chatter of all the kids talking about the Veterans they knew. It was really wonderful, and a great way to teach children to respect what the Veterans have done to make our country what it is today.  

I always LOVE teaching my class our National Anthem, and always want to jump right in with it first thing in September, but I've 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 talk about our flag. I like starting the National Anthem about this time of year so we know it well by Veterans 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 focus on one page at a time so we can 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's 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.   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.

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.

During free choice, I see MANY ramparts being built and the army guys are now a favorite.

I hope you have fun teaching the National Anthem in your classroom, too.
Have a wonderful day and thank you for stopping by.  And thank you, Veterans, for all you've done.

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