Lesson plan for SYMBOLS & HOLIDAYS

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1 Lesson plan for SYMBOLS & HOLIDAYS

2 Introduction This lesson is about the stories behind American symbols and celebrations. You will lead the class through the seven questions from the naturalization test relating to symbols and holidays. Then, lead students to explore the lyrics of the national anthem and the story behind the song. The subject of the national anthem ties together many questions on the test. It can reinforce the questions about the stars and stripes on the flag, Independence Day, and the War of Objectives The student will be better able to Recall the answers to the seven USCIS test questions in the Symbols & Holidays theme. Describe the meaning of the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner. USCIS questions In the Symbols & Holidays theme: 96. Why does the flag have 13 stripes? 97. Why does the flag have 50 stars? 98. What is the name of the national anthem? 52. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance? 95. Where is the Statue of Liberty? 99. When do we celebrate Independence Day? 100. Name two national U.S. Holidays. Related: 72. Name one war fought by the United Sates in the 1800s. 90. What ocean is on the East Coast of the United States? Time Theme: 30 minutes Activity and Discussion: 30 minutes Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 2

3 Materials Internet connectivity EITHER classroom projector OR enough computers for students to use as individuals or small groups Preparing for the Oath website, Symbols & Holidays theme ( Lyric Page (attached) Lyric Worksheet (attached) Star Spangled Banner recording ( 1 Printable Images (optional) (attached) Challenge Words You can find all of the bold words in the vignettes in the word list ( Listed below are some of those words that will come up often during the lesson. Anthem: an official song Battle: a fight, usually during war Exploded: to burst into small pieces, causing damage Teacher Tech Tips To learn how to use Preparing for the Oath, visit the help page at Depending on your students proficiency level, you might want to offer a transcript of the narration for students to read along while watching and listening, or to have as a reference. You can find printable transcripts at You may notice that the web address never changes as you navigate through Preparing for the Oath. In order to go directly to a specific theme or question on the site, you can find a list of links at These links may be useful for using your browser s bookmark tool or assigning student work. The link to go directly to the Symbols and Holidays theme is 1 The singer in this clip is the winner of the National Museum of American History s Star Spangled Banner singing competition in The competition celebrated the re-dedication of the museum and the opening of the new Star Spangled Banner gallery. Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 3

4 Some learning environments will be conducive to the sound features, while others will not. It is always possible to turn on and off the website s audio feature by clicking on this symbol: However, please keep in mind that the test itself is spoken aloud. Students will need to be comfortable responding to spoken questions, and be able to respond orally. Don t feel tied down by the structure of the themes. Once you are inside a theme, the image tiles along the bottom represent the individual questions within that theme. You may click on the tiles out of order to view the questions as you choose. Similarly, you may jump around the three modes within each question: Learn, Practice, and Try. Procedure 1. Lead the class through the Symbols & Holidays theme, as presented on the Preparing for the Oath website ( 2. Watch the video for USCIS Question 98 once more ( After watching the video, ask students to retell the story behind the national anthem. If you printed the optional images, ask students to explain how each image connects to the story behind the national anthem. 3. Distribute the Star-Spangled Banner Lyrics handout (attached). Discuss the meaning of any difficult words. 4. Listen to the national anthem ( Have students follow along with the lyrics. 5. Ask students to return, put away, or flip over the lyrics page. Distribute the Star- Spangled Banner Questions handout. (attached) If your students are at a more advanced proficiency level, you may want to provide copies of the worksheet without the word bank. 6. Listen to the national anthem again. 7. Have students fill in the Star-Spangled Banner Questions handout as they listen. Play the anthem multiple times if needed so students can find answers 8. Ask a student to read the completed lyrics aloud. 9. Discussion questions a. Have you ever heard or sung the Star-Spangled Banner? Where? b. Have you watched fireworks on Independence Day? Can you see a connection between the song and fireworks? c. What is the national anthem of your home country? Does it tell a story? Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 4

5 Learn More Links Smithsonian s History Explorer ( Your gateway to innovative online resources for teaching and learning American history, designed and developed by the National Museum of American History. Star Spangled Banner Online Exhibition ( This interactive online exhibition accompanies The Star-Spangled Banner exhibition at National Museum of American History. The exhibition features the flag that inspired the anthem. Ft. McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine ( Ft. McHenry in Baltimore is now part of the National Park System. Their webpage includes a detailed history and teacher resources. Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 5

6 Printable Image Credits Star-Spangled Banner. Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, Division of Armed Forces History. 14-inch British mortar bomb, ca Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, Division of Armed Forces History. A View of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry. Print by J. Bower, Philadelphia, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, Division of Armed Forces History. By the Dawn s Early Light. Color print after original painting by Percy E. Moran Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Digital ID: cph 3g06200; Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ds-00032a The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key, ca Courtesy of Maryland Historical Society. Star Spangled Banner Sheet Music published by A. Bacon & Co., Philadelphia, ca Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, Division of Armed Forces History. Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 6

7 Background On September 14, 1814, U.S. soldiers at Baltimore s Fort McHenry raised a huge American flag to celebrate a crucial victory over British forces during the War of The sight of those broad stripes and bright stars inspired Francis Scott Key to write a song that eventually became the United States national anthem. Key s words gave new significance to a national symbol and started a tradition through which generations of Americans have invested the flag with their own meanings and memories. In 1812, the U.S. declared war with Great Britain. Annoyed by British interference with American trade, the young nation was intent on confirming its recently won independence. Americans were stunned when, on August 24, 1814, British troops marched into Washington, D.C., and set the Capitol building and White House ablaze. America s future seemed more uncertain than ever as the British set their sights on Baltimore, Maryland, a vital seaport on the Atlantic coast. On September 13, 1814, British warships began firing bombs and rockets on Fort McHenry, which protected the city s harbor. The bombardment continued for twenty-five hours while the nation awaited news of Baltimore s fate. By the dawn s early light of September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key, who was aboard a ship several miles distant, could just make out an American flag waving above Fort McHenry. British ships were withdrawing from Baltimore, and Key realized that the United States had survived the battle and stopped the enemy advance. Moved by the sight, he wrote a song celebrating that star-spangled banner as a symbol of America s triumph and endurance. During the 19th century, The Star-Spangled Banner became one of the nation s bestloved patriotic songs. It gained special significance during the Civil War, a time when many Americans turned to music to express their feelings for the flag and the ideals and values it represented. By the 1890s, the military had adopted the song for ceremonial purposes, requiring it to be played at the raising and lowering of the colors. Despite its widespread popularity, The Star-Spangled Banner did not become the national anthem until Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 7

8 The Star-Spangled Banner lyrics O say can you see, by the dawn s early light, What so proudly we hail d at the twilight s last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O er the ramparts we watch d were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there, O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O er the land of the free and the home of the brave? Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 8

9 Listen to the song. Fill in the missing words from the word bank. The Star-Spangled Banner O say can you see, by the dawn s early light, What so we hail d at the twilight s last gleaming, Whose broad and bright through the perilous fight O er the ramparts we watch d were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket s glare, the bursting in air, Gave proof through the that our was still there, O does that star- banner yet wave O er the land of the free and the home of the brave? Word Bank stripes stars bombs night flag spangled say proudly red Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 9

10 This flag flew over Fort McHenry on September 13, It is called the Star- Spangled Banner. This flag inspired the national anthem. Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 10

11 This is a 14-inch British bombshell. Bombs like this were fired at Fort McHenry. Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 11

12 This print, A View of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry, shows Fort McHenry on September 13, You can see the American flag in the center. Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 12

13 An artist painted By the Dawn s Early Light for the 100th anniversary of the battle at Fort McHenry. It shows Francis Scott Key the morning after the battle at Fort McHenry. He sees the flag. Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 13

14 This is the earliest known version of The Star-Spangled Banner. Francis Scott Key probably wrote this on September 15, Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 14

15 Here, Francis Scott Key s lyrics are put to music. This sheet music was published between 1814 and 1816, soon after Francis Scott Key wrote the poem. Lesson Plan: Symbols & Holidays 15

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