You're A Grand Old Flag

The end of the school year is one of my favorite and least favorite times of Kindergarten. I love it first and foremost because it means 8 full weeks of just being a Mommy and hanging out with my kids 24/7, but also because it's a time of reflection and growth. Completing those end of the year assessments, reviewing goals from the beginning of the year, and seeing just how much my students have grown always brings me a sense of pride and accomplishment. And no matter how excited I am to finish up a school year and send another group of budding young kiddos onto first grade, I always feel a little tug of sadness as those cuties move on.

However, with all of the excitement and upcoming relaxation also comes a mountain of paperwork, organizing and stress that only a teacher (or former teacher) can fully understand. EVERYTHING has to be assessed, recorded, organized, and put away for the next year. Add to that packing up my entire classroom so that the carpet can be torn up, tile placed on the floor and walls painted; all the while planning an end of the year party, Kindergarten graduation, and a 6 hour weekend trip for my Grandmommy's 80th birthday party....I can feel the anxiety rising. It will all be worth it one week from today, when I am lounging on the couch with a good book in my hand, while my kids snooze after a long day at the playground or the pool. Ahhh...

Okay, what does that have to do with the American Flag? Well, every year, I end school with a unit of study on American symbols. Usually my flag study is kicked off by Memorial Day (I was a little late this year). But American symbols can also be taught for Flag Day, June 14th or Independence Day, July 4th. I feel like summer is a very patriotic time of year; outdoor BBQs, corn on the cob, watermelon, and fireworks. With our study of American symbols, one of my favorite classroom activities is making a torn paper American Flag. I haven't made one with my son yet, but it will definitely be on our summer agenda as we prepare for the 4th of July.

First, you will need: one piece of white construction paper, one piece of red construction paper, one quarter piece of blue construction paper, one quarter piece of white construction paper and a glue stick (not pictured).

Next, have your child tear 7 strips of red construction paper long-ways. We had a brief discussion about the stripes on the American flag and how there are 13 for the 13 original colonies, 7 of which are red and 6 of which are white.

Please excuse my very, very dry hands. I wash them frequently and don't use lotion as much as I should. I also clean and do dishes without wearing gloves. Since we did this at school, I didn't want to use my students in a photograph without parent permission, so you get to see my very, very dry hands.

Before gluing the red stripes to the white paper, I have my students tear all 7 stripes and space them out semi-evenly on the white construction paper.

Then, take the blue quarter of construction paper and barely tear the tiniest bit around each straight-edge to keep the torn paper feel of the project. You can leave it whole, but I feel like it takes away from the raggedy edges of the rest of the flag. We had a nice little discussion about where the blue should be glued onto our flag (the top left corner) and how we could tell which corner was the top left (the hand that the index finger and thumb make an 'L' with).

The last step is taking the additional white quarter of construction paper and tearing little bits to look like stars. We discussed how there are 50 stars on the American flag for the 50 states in our country, but that we didn't need to tear 50 pieces of paper, because we would probably be gluing into summer vacation. Their instructions were to fill most of the blue space with 'stars'.

This project is so cute and it really can't be messed up, unless the stripes are glued the wrong way or something, but that rarely happens and then you just call it creative. Happy end of school! May your summer be relaxing, fun and a little patriotic.