National Flag Day falls on June 14th every year and is a day to honor the American Flag. Although it is not a national holiday, it is celebrated by many cities and towns with parades and ceremonies that honor the American Flag. Flag Day is a fun holiday for kids with many activities and a fascinating history.
Learn more about lessons, crafts, and activities that children of all ages can participate in to learn more about Flag Day and some of the history related to the American Flag.
History and Meaning
On June 14, 1777 the Continental Congress passed an act to inaugurate a flag for the newly minted United States of America. At the time, the USA was still under a year old, having been officially founded on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress determined that the flag should have 13 alternating red and white stripes, and thirteen white stars in a blue field. The original flag’s 13 stars and 13 stripes symbolized the 13 colonies.
Who sewed the first flag is hotly debated by historians, though popular belief holds that Betsy Ross is the original seamstress. There is no known evidence to show who made the first flag. Many historians now believe that Congressman Francis Hopkins designed the first flag and it may have been sewn by Betsy Ross under his direction.
Since 1777, Congress has passed many acts to change and update the flag to match the changing United States. Until 1912, there were no orders officially stating what the flag should look like, aside from 13 stripes and (at the time, 48 stars). Flags from before 1912 show differing proportions in stripes and stars. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, the 50th star was added to the flag on July 4, 1960.
Francis Scott Key, who wrote the song Star Spangled Banner, was inspired by a real event and a real flag. Made by Mary Pickersgill, the Star Spangled Banner measured 30 by 42 feet! The flag was so big, that each star and each stripe were nearly 2 feet wide. During the War of 1912 British soldiers stormed the US Capitol and burned the US Capitol Building, the White House, several warships, and the navy yard. President Madison and his wife Dolley were barely able to escape.
The British troops moved forward to Baltimore, at the time one of the largest cities in America. Fort McHenry was all that stood between the British Navy and the city of Baltimore. On September 13, 1814 the British Navy started shelling the fort, the assault lasted for 25 hours.
All day and all night the men in Fort McHenry held the fort against the British. At dawn as the British started to retreat, Major Armistead raised the enormous flag made by Mary Pickersgill. The soldiers celebrated their victory while, miles away, Francis Scott Key was anxiously looking on to see if the city had been saved. Seeing the giant flag waving in the sky after such a terrible night inspired Key to pen the lyrics to what is now the American national anthem.
Flag Day Activities
Many municipalities have ceremonies, parades, and events for Flag Day. Practice saluting the flag or saying the Pledge of Allegiance. At the parade or as you go about your day, salute some of the flags you see together. Maybe even count the flags that you see while walking around the neighborhood. It is a good time to talk about why the flag is important to many Americans.
Drawing and coloring flags is a fun activity and is a great way to start a conversation about American Flag history. If your kids are older, they can use magazines and make a flag collage about what they feel symbolizes America to them. You can make mini flags with paint and Popsicle sticks, or make flag food! You can make a flag cake or use fruits like blueberries, strawberries, and bananas to make a patriotic fruit salad.
Learn About Flag Day with Kids
Have a fun and interactive Flag Day with your kids and help them learn a little bit more about the history of the American Flag.