Review with children the Pledge of Allegiance:
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Explain that the word "pledge" is a synonym for the words "promise" or "guarantee." Brainstorm together a a list of situations in which people make pledges or promises (a public official being sworn into office, a doctor taking the Hippocratic oath, a bride and groom exchanging wedding vows, etc.). Many pledges or guarantees are written down so that both the person who is making the promise and the person(s) receiving the promise may be certain of what is to be done.
Work in small groups to draft a class pledge, then vote on pledges and adopt one. You may make modifications as necessary. Or work as a family to formulate a family pledge. Whether the pledge is short like the Pledge of Allegiance or a little longer, it needs to outline a commitment that every person who takes the pledge can fulfill. For instance, pledging to donate $10,000 to the school library is unrealistic; but students could realistically pledge to be honest on quizzes and tests....
What It Means to Me...
Read the story behind "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" not as a national anthem, but rather as a personal expression of what the flag meant to him. As long as he saw the flag waving over Baltimore, he knew that Fort McHenry had not surrendered to the British and the Maryland was still free.
The American flag means many things to many people. Write about what it means to you. If possible, interview others and find out what the flag means to them. Possibilities for interviews include veterans of foreign wars, active military personnel and their families, local government officials, people who have recently immigrated to the United States, American citizens who have lived abroad, and so forth.
A Family Flag
Ask children to look at the American flag and name the colors it contains. Explain that each color used in a flag has a special meaning. In the American flag, for instance, the blue stands for justice, the white stands for purity, and the red stands for courage.
Not only the colors but also the symbols on the flag are significant. The original flag bore thirteen stars and thirteen stripes--one for each of the colonies. Today the American flag proudly displays fifty stars, one for each state in the union. The thirteen stripes remain unchanged, reminding America of its beginning as thirteen colonies.
Ask children to think of items that have special significance to them or their family. Direct them to create a family flag, using only the most important of these symbols. You might also share the meanings of the following colors commonly used on flags so that children can choose appropriate colors for their designs.
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