Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Non-Music Classrooms


by Mary L.Vincent – Monroe Public Schools

This lesson series is a compilation of
5 short videos lessons (each approximately 6 minutes long) that help students rehearse singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  The videos integrate relevant locations and historical perspectives related to the national anthem.
This lesson series also aims to make singing the Star-Spangled Banner more accessible.  All performance lessons are sung by a “regular” person without vocal training.  They are also un-retouched and are not auto-tuned.

Goals and Objectives
The goal of this lesson series is to give students who are not enrolled in music classes, an opportunity to learn, rehearse and perform the Star-Spangled Banner.

  1. Students will demonstrate how to stand or sit with proper posture for singing.
  2. Students will perform the entire first verse of the Star-Spangled Banner as a class ensemble.
    * Star-Spangled Music Day is September 12, 2014
    * The 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner is September 14, 2014

Click an underlined title to visit the lesson page with links to video lesson and additional online resources.
Click a URL to go straight to the video lesson.

Video 1 –
– For classroom use
Setting – Maryland Historical Society
– Singing Portion – First verse, phrases 1 and 2
– History –  Francis Scott Key’s manuscript and publication of the SSB

Video 2
– For classroom use
Setting – United States Capitol Building
– Singing Portion – First verse, phrases 3 and 4
History – 1931 Congressional Act that made the SSB the national anthem

Video 3 –
– For classroom use
Setting – Library of Congress (Jefferson Building)
– Singing Portion – First verse, phrases 5 and 6
History – Early publications of the SSB, Library of Congress resources

Video 4 –
– For classroom use
Setting – National Museum of American History
– Singing Portion – First verse, phrases 7 and 8
History – The flag at Fort McHenry, conservation of the flag, Mary Pickersgill

Video 5 –
– For classroom use
Setting – Fort McHenry
– Singing Portion – Entire first verse
History – Francis Scott Key, War of 1812, Defense of Fort McHenry

About the Author
Please visit my websites:
My Professional Website
My Classroom Website
Feel free to contact me via email or Google Drive at


About Banner Moments Made available as part of the 2014 Banner Moments K-12 Institute—a project of the American Music Institute of the University of Michigan and the Star Spangled Music Foundation, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Posted in 200, Banner Birthdays, Banner Moments, Battle of Baltimore, Composers, Dr. Beanes, Education, Elementary, Events, F.S. Key, Fort McHenry, Fort McHenry, Grade Level, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Grades K-2, Great Ideas, High School, History, History, Library of Congress, Melody, Middle School, Music Band, Music Choral, Music Orchestral, Mythconceptions, NEH, Organizations, People, Places, Scholars, Smithsonian, Social Studies, SSB Videos, SSMF, Star Spangled Music Day, Subject Area, Teaching Ideas, The Anthem, Visual Art, War of 1812, Wars, Web Resources | Comments Off on Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Non-Music Classrooms

The Star Spangled Banner in Multicultural Societies

Denver holds a flagThe Star Spangled Banner in Multicultural Societies
Social Studies, World Geography
6–8, 9–12
by Betsy Blount, Tom C. Clark High School

A look at what the Star Spangled Banner means to different ethnic groups in America’s multicultural society

Goals and Objectives

  1.  Students will evaluate the experiences and contributions of diverse groups to multicultural societies.
  2.  Students will generate summaries, generalizations, and thesis statements supported by evidence.

Students will read and discuss immigrant stories from varying time periods, after viewing an iMovie incorporating text from The Star Spangled Banner in different languages and photographs. Students will also explain the necessity of translating our national anthem into many different languages. After reading and highlighting the text of their Immigrant Voices stories, students will participate in a Socratic Seminar to discuss with one another, then they will write two to three paragraphs reflecting on what they have learned about the experiences of other cultures regarding The Star Spangled Banner and other patriotic poetry.

Materials Needed
Computer with Data Projector
iMovie – The Star Spangled Banner in Multicultural Societies –
PDFs of Immigrant Voices Stories (Immigrant Stories_Vaishno, Immigrant Stories_Mabel, Immigrant Stories_Luz, Immigrant Stories_David)


  1. Present iMovie “The Star Spangled Banner in Multicultural Societies” to students. Ask students to jot down ways the American flag is used in the different photos, and briefly discuss in class.
  2. Pass out copies of Immigrant Voices Stories to students. (These stories can be found at the Angel Island Immigrant Station Foundation website as well as the PDFs attached.) Ask students to read, highlight and annotate their Immigrant Voices Stories to prepare for a Socratic Seminar discussion about the experiences of these immigrants in our multicultural American society.
  3. Hold a Socratic Seminar discussion with students posing questions like:
    What kinds of experiences did your immigrants have in their stories?
    What do you think your immigrant would have to say about our national anthem The Star Spangled Banner? Why?
    Does The Star Spangled Banner hold the same meaning for all Americans? Why or why not?
    Is it okay for the national anthem of the United States of America to be translated into languages other than English, like Spanish, French, German, Italian, etc.? Why or why not?
    What does The Star Spangled Banner mean to you?
  4. Have students spend time writing a thorough response to the question “What does The Star Spangled Banner mean to you?”

iMovie – The Star Spangled Banner in Multicultural Societies video –
Angel Island Immigrant Station Foundation – Immigrant Voices –

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)

About the Author
Betsy Blount teaches ninth grade World Geography in San Antonio, Texas at Tom C. Clark High School (


About Banner Moments
Made available as part of the 2014 Banner Moments K-12 Institute—a project of the American Music Institute of the University of Michigan and the Star Spangled Music Foundation, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Posted in Arrangements, Banner Moments, Cultural Diversity, Education, The Anthem, Translations | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on The Star Spangled Banner in Multicultural Societies

The Road to “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Photograph by Jessica Pugliano

Photograph by Jessica Pugliano

6th-8th Grade
by Jessica E. Pugliano, New Cumberland Middle School

This is a Google Earth Tour of the events leading up to Francis Scott Key’s writing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Goals and Objectives

Describe the learning outcomes and/or goals.

  1. Students will be able to understand the events leading up to the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner
  2. Students will be able to evaluate different versions of the Star-Spangled Banner

Students will use laptops and Google Earth to take a self-guided tour starting in London, England and the composing of the song “To Anacreon In Heaven” and end at Carr’s Music House in Baltimore, Maryland.  Students will answer questions and write a reflective essay upon completion of the tour.  Included in the tour are videos, audio, and other multimedia.

Materials Needed
Laptop, desktop computer, or iPad/equivalent tablet
Google Earth
Road To Star-Spangled Banner .kwz file
Headphones (optional)
Question sheet
Google Earth Instructions Sheet
Google Earth Guide



1.  Download and install the “Road to the Star Spangled Banner” Google Earth .kwz file.  Follow the directions on the Google Earth Instructions page.  You may wish to also download the Google Earth Guide if you’ve never worked with Google Earth before.

2.  You will need to install this on each computer or tablet that is being used.

3.  Print enough copies of the question sheet for each student.

4.  Students will need to use headphones for this on an individual basis.  There are video files embedded into the tour.

5.  After students move through the tour at their own pace, use this opportunity to go over questions and discuss student responses.  You may also wish to have students answer a short essay response.

Google Earth
Road To Star-Spangled Banner .kwz file
Question sheet
Google Earth Instructions Sheet
Google Earth Guide
Pennsylvania State Music Standards:
9.1.8.A – Know and use the elements (duration, intensity, pitch, timbre) and principles (composition, form, genre, harmony, rhythm, texture) of each art form to create works in the arts and the humanities,
9.1.8.E. – Communicate a unifying theme or point of view through the production of works in the arts,
9.1.8.J. – Incorporate specific uses of traditional and contemporary technologies within the design for producing, performing and exhibiting works in the arts or the works of others (explain and demonstrate traditional and contemporary technologies),
9.1.8.K. – Incorporate specific uses of traditional and contemporary technologies in furthering knowledge and understanding in the humanities,
9.2.8.A. – Explain the historical, cultural and social context of an individual work in the arts,
9.2.8.B – Relate works in the arts chronologically to historical events,
9.1.8.D. – Analyze a work of art from its historical and cultural perspective,
9.1.8.E. – Analyze how historical events and culture impact forms, techniques and purposes of works in the arts,
9.1.8.F. – Know and apply appropriate vocabulary used between social studies and the arts and humanities,
9.3.8.C. – Identify and classify styles, forms, types and genre within art forms

Jessica Pugliano

Jessica Pugliano

About the Author
Jessica Pugliano is a general music teacher/choral director at New Cumberland Middle School in the West Shore School District.  She has also worked as a technology coach in the same district, implementing computers and apps into the general education classrooms.  Please contact Jessica Pugliano at for any questions.


About Banner Moments
Made available as part of the 2014 Banner Moments K-12 Institute—a project of the American Music Institute of the University of Michigan and the Star Spangled Music Foundation, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Music of Poetry: Decoded

HPIM4725The Music of Poetry: Decoded
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subject – Social Studies
Grade Level (5th)
by Janet H. Berry, Celeste Henkel Elementary, Iredell-Statesville Schools, North Carolina

Unit Overview:
Three lessons using poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), Francis Scott Key (1779 – 1843), and Emma Lazarus (1849 – 1887) to explore the theme of Liberty.
These lessons may be used with the week-long celebration called Freedom Week.

Standards, Goals and Objectives:
Language Arts
1.   5.RL.5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

  • Students will determine the overarching theme of these three poems, written by three very different poets in response to events in our nation’s history.
  • Students will determine how characters in the poem respond to challenges set before them.
  • Students will summarize the text.

2.   5.RL.5.6 Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

  • Students will listen to various performances and describe how the point of view influences how events are described.

Social Studies-
1.  5. C.1.4 Understand how cultural narratives (legends, songs, ballads, games, folk tales and art forms) reflect the lifestyles, beliefs and struggles of diverse ethnic groups.

  • Students will determine how the lifestyle, beliefs, and struggles of the authors were reflected in their poetry.



Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3


Teacher Guides, Materials, Activities, and Resources are all specified in each lesson page.

About the Author

Janet H. BerryJanet H. Berry,
Mrs. Berry has taught K-5 general music at Celeste Henkel Elementary/Iredell-Statesville Public Schools in Statesville, NC from Aug. 2005 to present. Mrs. Berry was Celeste Henkel’s Teacher of the Year 2011-2012 and a District Top Five Teacher of the Year that same year. Mrs. Berry holds Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music Education from Appalachian State University, Boone, NC,Orff Certification–Level III, Kodaly Level II.

About Banner Moments
Made available as part of the 2014 Banner Moments K-12 Institute—a project of the American Music Institute of the University of Michigan and the Star Spangled Music Foundation, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Posted in Elementary, F.S. Key, Fort McHenry, Fort McHenry, Grade Level, Grades 3-5, History, Language Arts, Library of Congress, NEH, Poets & Patriots, Revolutionary War, Smithsonian, Social Studies, Uncategorized, Web Resources | Comments Off on The Music of Poetry: Decoded

Battle of Manassas

Manassas park

Battle of Manassas
Social Studies
Grade Levels 3-5
by Avigail Frager, Bruce-Monroe @ Park View Elementary

A lesson that bridges the piano piece “Battle of Manassas” with the events of the Civil War battle.

Goals and Objectives

Students will be able to describe the Battle of Manassas by writing and recording a narrative to the music piece “Battle of Manassas.”

During the American Civil War, music was written to describe battles that took place.  One such piece was “The Battle of Manassas.”  Students will listen to a version of “Battle of Manassas” and participate in turn and talks/stop and jots to record their feelings/reactions to the music.  Students will then participate in a read aloud of the Battle of Bull Run (with turn and talks and think alouds).  After reading, students will summarize the battle.  As an end project, students will be recorded reciting the narrative over the music, matching the actions of the battle with the music.

Materials Needed

Audio version of “Battle of Manassas”

Video recorder

Attachment A- Battle of Manassas Timeline

Attachment B- Thomas Wiggins

Attachment C- Map of Manassas/DC

Attachment D- Battle of Manassas narrative


Each student should receive a copy of “Battle of Manassas Timeline” (attachment A).  Tell students they will be listening to a piece of music written during the Civil War about the Battle of Manassas.  As they listen, you will frequently pause the movement for students to write down their thoughts about the section they just heard.  Students should listen for familiar sounds and connections they might have.

After the recording ends, ask students to share what they heard at different sections of the piece.  Play each sections while discussing so students can listen for other details.  Record answers on the board in timeline form.

Inform students, “This piece was written after the first battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Manassas.  It was written by Tom Wiggins, a southern slave from Georgia.  He was blind and autistic.  When he was 12 he heard his master’s son talking about the battle he just witnessed.  This inspired him to compose this piece.  It follows the actions of the battle.  Share Attachment B with students.

Read students the Battle of Manassas narrative (attachment D) creating a timeline as you go.  Have students record this on their timelines (details from battle should match sections of music).

Use the timeline facts to write short narratives of the war.  Encourage students to use adjectives.

Assign each section of the timeline to different students.  Play the music again and have the assigned students recite their timeline narratives over the music, telling the story of the Battle of Manassas.


Attachment A

Attachment B

Attachment C

Attachment D


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.5.2 Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.5.4 Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.5.5 Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

SilhouetteAbout the Author
Avigail Frager is an elementary school teacher in Washington, D.C. She currently teaches social studies to grades k-5.


About Banner Moments
Made available as part of the 2014 Banner Moments K-12 Institute—a project of the American Music Institute of the University of Michigan and the Star Spangled Music Foundation, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Posted in Banner Moments, Elementary, Grades 3-5, Teaching Ideas, U.S. Civil War, Wars | Comments Off on Battle of Manassas

Star Spangled Celebration Week for 5-8 Grade

Interdisciplinary Middle School Concentration
Grade Level: 5-8
Rebecca A. Cauthen, Maine Consolidated School

This project will include lessons and activities for use in middle school classrooms that focus on the Star Spangled Banner.  These resources will include ideas and projects for integration in history, social studies, music, art, physical education, language arts, writing, mathematics, and more.  The primary purpose of these resources is for an all school celebration focusing on the Star Spangled Banner over the course of a week.

School wide:
Morning Announcements including a fun fact about the Star Spangled Banner and a recording of the anthem (including different genres throughout the week.)

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Whitney Houston

Dolly Parton


Sebastian De La Cruz

Armed Forces Choir


  1.  The Star Spangled Banner was written in September 1814.
    Quick Extension:  How long has it been since the lyrics were written?
  1. Francis Scott Key wrote four verses in his original setting. Today we usually only sing the first verse.
    Quick Extensions:  explore the other verses.  Quick write: why did only the first verse become popular?
  1. The Star Spangled Banner became our official national anthem in 1931.
    Quick Extension: How old were Key’s lyrics at this time?  How long ago was this?
  1. The song’s first confirmed performance at a sporting event was at the 1918 World Series.
    Quick Extension: How old were Key’s lyrics at this time?  How long ago was this? What emotions may this cause for the athletes?  The fans?  How have those emotions possibly changed over time.
  1. During World War II, the tradition of singing the anthem at sporting events spread.
    Quick Extension:  Discussion and/or writing. Why was this important?  Why did this tradition continue.

Open with Presentation of the colors with local veterans.  Performances will include items created during the week and may include:  student made museum,  song performances,  poem presentations,  short video,  living flag, wax museum, etc.



1. Students will be able to measure 30 feet high by 42 feet wide and
visualize the area of the garrison flag.

2. Flag Math is a mixed concept math sheet

Physical Education:

1. Defense of Fort McHenry re-enactment:

Set up mats to represent the fort
Set up hoops to represent the British Naval Ships
Have a group of students on the mats defending the fort (with fluffballs)
Have other students in the hoops bombing Fort McHenry from their ships (with foam dodgeballs)
-British Rocket effective range is 1 3/4 miles  America’s effective range is 1 1/2  (so not a fair fight)
Francis Scott Key can be watching from afar on one of the ships
Narration can be going on throughout the recreation
Music and background sounds can be heard (cannons bursting, yelling, etc.)
Lights can be turned off and “fireworks” (as the cannons were described) can be launched – glow sticks thrown in the air
As the fighting stops at dawn, lights can be turned on slowly while flag is raised from the fort
Francis Scott Key can be seen looking for the flag and the Star Spangled Banner can be played as he spots the flag and starts writing
Return to classroom for a discussion on re-enactment
Have students write a quick paragraph reflection on the re-enactment


Language Arts:

1. Write a newspaper article or create an advertisement about the Star Spangled Banner –   students may focus on the events of the battle,  after the battle,  the publishing of the sheet music, or a campaign for the Star Spangled.

2.Writing assignments could include:  Personal narrative of what the Star Spangled Banner means to me,  write your own poetry/lyrics to another significant event either historical or current.

3. Students will understand the difference between primary and secondary
sources. They will also be able to explain the importance and limitations of using primary
sources for historical research.


1. The museum environment and preservation.
Through discussion and brainstorming, students will learn about the
destructive impact of environmental factors on man-made artifacts and structures.
Upon completion of one or more activities, students will gain a concrete
understanding of the complexity of the science of preservation.

2. Smithsonian Founding Fragments – Banner Preservation


1. Students will be able to cite the origins and outcome of the War of 1812
and be able to place the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner in a chronological

2. Students will understand the difference between primary and secondary sources. They will also be able to explain the importance and limitations of using primary sources for historical research.

3. Recreation of the battle in tableau, film, theater, wax museum, or museum.

4.Mary Pickersgill and the flag –
In this activity, students will watch and discuss a 12-minute video of a theater presentation created by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Ideas for extension activities are also included in this guide.


1. Students create 2 foot stars and create artistic representations of the anthem’s history.

2. How to make a 5 pointed star

3.  Analysis of primary sources of art work depicting the battle and subsequent events

Francis Scott Key painting of inspiration after the Battle of Baltimore, Sept. 14, 1814

Francis Scott Key painting of inspiration after the Battle of Baltimore, Sept. 14, 1814

1b  Our Flag Was Still There - Fort McHenry-700x600 Ft._Henry_bombardement_1814 warof1812baltimorefort_mchenry1



1. Historical perspective:  How was the tune previously used?   What changes have been made and why.  Comparison of multiple performances.

2. Prepare and perform the anthem.

3. Write your own verses or write you own anthem for another cause.

The possibilities and resources for The Star-Spangled Banner integration seem limitless.  Here is a handful compiled for a celebration. Have fun and good luck with your celebration.


About the Author
Rebecca Cauthen teaches in Northern Arizona at Maine Consolidated School.  She is the Master Teacher for the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra and currently serves on the committee to revise Arizona standards for Fine Arts.   Feel free to correspond with any questions, comments, etc.  at

rebecca 1

About Banner Moments
Made available as part of the 2014 Banner Moments K-12 Institute—a project of the American Music Institute of the University of Michigan and the Star Spangled Music Foundation, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Posted in Banner Moments, Education, Elementary, Grades 6-8, Star Spangled Music Day, Teaching Ideas | Comments Off on Star Spangled Celebration Week for 5-8 Grade

SSB Celebration Week Resource Pack

RESOURCE PACKET for Star Spangled Banner Birthday Celebration Week

by: Susan Ferguson

Scroll through this pack to see suggested activities for each day of the week.




THE FLAG MAKER, Susan Campbell Bartoletti

THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER, Peter Spier, (lesson plan)



Discuss adjectives/words that describe the flag: American, patriotism, respect, honor, valor, pride, United States, military, national, anthem, freedom, independence, bravery, symbol, strong, free, Colonial life, children’s roles in 1812, etc.


Anthem – a national song

Banner – country’s flag

Broad – wide

Commander – a person in the armed forces who is in charge of other people

Gallantly – brave and fearless

Hail’d – variation of “hailed,” to greet

Independence – freedom

Lyrics – the words of a song

O’er – variation of “over”

Patriotic – showing love of and loyalty to one’s country

Perilous – extreme danger

Rampart – the surrounding wall of a fort built to protect against attack

Rockets – similar to today’s bottle rockets, left a red trail of light in the sky

Spangle – bright decoration, i.e. lopsided star

Twilight – soft diffused light when the sun is just below the horizon

Verse – one part of a poem or song made up of several lines, poetic paragraph

 Happy Birthday Bulletin Board* – Spray patriotic fabric with sticky mount and hang in hall OR bulletin board in cafeteria. “Happy Birthday Star Spangled Banner!”  Have students write a Birthday message to the SSB.

Illustrate the Banner Wall* (everyone please do this early in the week, or week before) – put up the lyrics to the SSB (kindergarten hall from lobby along to office back door). Assign a line to each class. Have the kids illustrate what the line means on a 4 ½ x 6” (1/2 construction paper) piece of white paper. Hang all the pictures in column form under the lyrics. After read-a-loud, discuss what your class line means. Guide students to visual understanding for successful completion of their illustration.

Illustration wall assignments:

Oh, say can you see                                                       Ka&b

by the dawn’s early light                                               Kc&d

What so proudly we hailed                                           Ke&f

at the twilight’s last gleaming?                                     Kg & 1a

Whose broad stripes and bright stars                          1b&c

thru the perilous fight,                                                    1d&e

O’er the ramparts we watched                                       1f&g

were so gallantly streaming?                                          2a&b

And the rocket’s red glare,                                              2c&d

the bombs bursting in air,                                               2e&f

Gave proof through the night                                         2g&3a

that our flag was still there.                                             3b&c

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave        3d&e

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?    3f&g

Flag Code – There are laws concerning the treatment of the American Flag. Ask students what they know about these rules and regulations. If there are boy scouts in your class, have them share with the students what they know about respecting the flag. Stand when the flag goes by, hand over your heart for the Pledge and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, etc.  Discuss Flag code and respect



Morning Announcement – We began a war in 1812 against the British because they wanted to control our trade. The British army and navy were very powerful. The American people fought hard. But in 1814 the British burned part of our capitol in Washington, DC. Then the British Army headed to Baltimore to attack Ft. McHenry. The American army was ready for the invasion. American troops held the fort and won the battle. (:30)

SSB Version- POETS & PATRIOTS, Cut 17/Side 1, 4:58 (with vocal to 1:10 first verse), 4:58

Teacher Background Information

  • In 1812 after years of Britain boarding our merchant ships, essentially kidnapping American sailors and trying to control our trade, Congress declared war on England. The battle at Fort McHenry took place during the War of 1812, as the British attempted to take the harbor at Baltimore. Ft. McHenry stands guard in Baltimore on the Chesapeake Bay. This was a couple days after the British burned the Capitol, the White House and the Library of Congress in Washington DC forty miles to the west. It was important to hold the Fort. If the British won this fight, America would surely lose the War and the independence they had been fighting for since 1776. British ships fired 1,500 bombshells and 700 rockets at Ft. McHenry during a 25-hour period September 13, 1814. It is said that the Battle was so fierce it could be heard 100 miles away in Philadelphia. The War finally ended in February 2015. Some Americans called it the 2nd war of Independence.

Read* – The Star-Spangled Banner, illustrated by Peter Spier (K – 3) Talk about the pictures. Challenge the students to find the flag in every picture.

Teacher Resources

*Teachers, introduce the week from the Smithsonian Website. Have whole class “Collect the Stars” by projecting and using the interactive feature on this link. (Use the interactive flag feature later this week.)

-Teacher’s Guide with lesson ideas –

-Copy “A Soldier’s Life” from Junior Ranger PDF for partner work

Video – Intro to Battle and Fort (14:00)

Ft. McHenry and the War of 1812 (15:00) 2-3,

Suggested Lesson/Activities –

 K-1 – Life in Colonial Times, marching like a soldier

The Star Spangled Banner mini book Pg. 51 from OUR NATION, Scholastic

2-3 – Overview of Fort and Battle included in this pdf



Morning Announcement – The commander at Ft. McHenry ordered 2 flags from local flag maker Mary Pickersgill. Mary made a living sewing flags for the armies and ships that came through Baltimore. Her flag in 1814 had 15 stars and 15 stripes. Every time a new state was added to the Union, a star AND a stripe was added to the flag. The flag that flew over the fort was 30 feet by 42 feet. It was huge! (:30)

SSB Version – POETS & PATRIOTS, Side 2, Cut 18, First verse to 1:05

Teacher Background Information

  • The gigantic flag hanging over the fort was build by Mary Pickersgill, her daughter Caroline, and a couple of helpers. (The Flag Maker, Susan Campbell Bartoletti) It was 30 feet by 42 feet in size. It was made of 400 yards of wool, and weighed at least 80 pounds. Each of the 15 stripes was more than 2 feet wide. Each star was also two feet wide.
  • The massive 30 x 42 flag was NOT flying all night through the battle. Instead it was the smaller 17’x25’ “storm flag” also commissioned by Mary Pickersgill. General Armistead, the fort commander, was flying the smaller flag because it was a stormy the day of the battle. (It is estimated that the larger flag would weigh over 400 pounds wet, which would snap the flagpole in half!)
  • It is assumed that after the battle Armistead ordered the larger flag aloft, and perhaps that is really the one viewed by Francis Scott Key. The Smithsonian Institute did a recreation during their refurbishing of the Banner. They hoisted the 30’ x 42’ modern replica at Ft. McHenry and then boated to the spot where they think that Key was six miles away. In fact, the flag was visible from that distance.

Read*: THE FLAG MAKER, Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Do*: This Reader’s Theatre of the making of the banner.

Teacher Resources –

-Return to the Smithsonian website. Use the interactive link to explore various features/facts about the banner.

-For all grade levels, includes color sheet and measurement activities for the flag.

-Copy Mary Pickersgill page from Junior Ranger PDF for morning work. (below)

Video – History of the flag (13:00) Levels 2 – 3 Start @ 3:42 if you want to cut a couple minutes.

Suggested Lesson/Activities –

 Math for all levels –

K-1 – Measure out the size of the flag. Use 12” tiles in the gym. Have children count to 40 on one side and to 32 on the other.

2-3 – Measure out the size of the flag. Use 12” tiles in the gym or on the playground with yarn cut to 30 feet and 42 feet lengths. See this math lesson plan at the SI website for further instructions.



Morning Announcement – Francis Scott Key was an important man. He was waiting and watching the Battle for Ft. McHenry from a ship in the distance. The fight raged on through the night. Key couldn’t tell who was winning the fight because of the smoke and the dark, stormy weather. Finally, the fighting stopped and the sun came up. Then Key saw the flag flying at the Fort. The Americans had won. (:20)

 SSB Version – Aretha Franklin, First Verse to 2:12 (6:53)

 Teacher Background Information

  • Francis Scott Key was a well-connected lawyer from Washington DC when he was asked to help free Dr. William Beanes who had been arrested by the British. British General Robert Ross agreed to free Beanes, but the men would have to wait until after the battle that was about to begin. They waited on a small boat that was tied to a larger British ship. Key waited it out during the 25-hour battle. He and others with him peered through the smoke of the battle at dawn waiting for a view of the flag over Ft. McHenry. No one knew who had won the battle. If the flag was still flying the men would know that the British had been defeated.


Teacher Resources –

Video*– SHORT video on Francis Scott Key (1:08) Also synopsis for teachers on this page.

Suggested Lesson/Activities

K-1 – star patterns

2-3 – Read the letter to a friend contained in this PDF lesson.

Ask students to pretend that they were watching for the flag beside Key the morning after the battle. Have them write their own friendly letter. Review parts of a letter.


  • Complete the Star Spangled Booklet Project outlines on Pgs. 70 & 71 in THE BEST OF MAILBOX/SOCIAL STUDIES GRADES 2-3.
  • Symbols Review Puzzle Pg. 74 (above book)


Note: This is also Patriot Day, in remembrance of 9/11.


Morning Announcement

As soon as Francis Scott Key spotted the flag flying he knew that the British had lost the battle. He began writing his song to a tune that was already in his head. In only a couple of days, his song was printed on the front page of newspapers as Americans celebrated. People were singing it in pubs and at meetings. Everyone loved Key’s lyrics and soon everyone knew the words. (:25)

SSB Version – West Point Glee Club, to end of vocals in First Verse 2:15 (7:06)

Teacher Background Information

  • The song, the Star Spangled Banner and the flag, the star spangled banner are intrinsically tied to each other. At Ft. McHenry when they mention the SSB, they are referencing both song and flag.
  • There are many myths about the song. It was not a “drinking song,” but was a song sung at a social club. Key wrote the lyrics to a tune he already had in his head called “To Anacreon in Heaven.” This was a tune that most people knew, like most people know “Mary Had a Little Lamb” today. Legend has it that Key wrote the lyrics on an envelope, but there were no separate envelopes for mailing letters in 1814. The damage that can be seen on the flag today at the Smithsonian was not caused during the bombs of battle. The giant 30’ x 40’ flag was not flying that rainy night, but likely was raised again in the morning after the battle. The damage seen on the flag now was caused when people cut off pieces of the flag for souvenirs. The entire missing star was cut out and given away.

Read*: BY THE DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT, Steven Kroll (2 – 3)

Teacher Resources:

*Use the interactive flag link to talk about facts about the banner. This also shows you what the flag looks like now. Click on each circle to learn about the flag.

Video – How the song became the anthem (8:08)


K-1 – Cut & Color 5 point star. Count points. Good template

2-3 – History & Poetry, teach students to interpret the lyrics of Key’s song

Make a 3D 5 point star (Teachers you might want to master this first!)

5 point star #2 – printable directions


—————————-Friday (Red, White and Blue Day)——————————-

Star Spangled Music Day


Morning Announcement

In 1889, the song became the official anthem of the US Navy. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson said it was the national song. But not until 1931, did it become the official National Anthem through an act of Congress. There is NO official version of the anthem recognized by law. That allows performers to sing it any way they want and to make the song their own. (:25)

SSB Version – Stand and sing to our school’s version

Extra –The Birth of our National Anthem (Scholastic Non-fiction book), comprehension reading passage (3, cold text)

Assembly Friday September 12th

Design a Friday assembly that might include ROTC color Guard, Boy Scout flag folding demonstration, music teacher leading patriotic songs, poetic readings, skit of Mary Pickersgill, high school band playing Star Spangled Banner.


Websites and Teacher Resources – Thomas Hampson’s site with lots of patriotic music/links – SSB site/Smithsonian – Junior Ranger Program booklet for Ft. McHenry. There are a couple pages in this PDF that could be used for morning work and could be completed without visiting the Fort.

Reader’s Theatre – with attached lessons

About the Author

Susan Ferguson is a NBCT 3rd grade Language Arts/Social Studies Teacher in Camden, North Carolina.   She was Teacher of the Year in 2011.  This is her 21st year in the classroom. IMG_0141

Posted in 200, Banner Birthdays, Elementary, F.S. Key, Fort McHenry, Fort McHenry, Grades 3-5, History, History, Language Arts, Math, Poets & Patriots, Smithsonian, Social Studies, Star Spangled Music Day, War of 1812 | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on SSB Celebration Week Resource Pack