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HistoryFix: American Flag History

A Writing Across the Curriculum Lesson from HistoryFix
Historical Topic: the flag Students Write: a trading card

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Student Writing Samples from this Lesson

American Flag History

This writing across the curriculum lesson was created by Nevada teacher Paula Larson.

Paula considers this history lesson to be appropriate for students in grades 2-8.

Lesson Overview:

Objectives/Overview: This is a fun and quick follow-up lesson to check comprehension of facts learned about the American flag, where students create a trading card inspired by facts and thoughts about this national symbol. The same assignment can be done with other important American symbols and historical items, so that a class deck of cards can be created and used later.

Time Needed: one 60-minute class session.

Writing skills (traits) to stress while teaching this lesson:

  • Word Choice (using precise nouns to assist the reader's understanding; incorporating interesting adjectives into the writing; and using strong verbs to keep the sentences interesting)
  • Conventions (spelling skills)

Materials List:

Setting the Stage:

Ask students: "Have you ever collected trading cards?" (Pass out several cards of different types or show the samples from Barry Lane's book) "Notice what facts and statistics can be found on each card. Today we will create a trading card for the American Flag."

Teacher Instructions:

  • Review history curriculum from your classroom textbook on the flag, highlighting vocabulary words. Cluster new and previously learned knowledge on chart paper with simple leading questions of who, where, when, and why.

  • Pass out trading card examples. Observe facts found on different types of cards.

  • Make a list of interesting facts one might find on a trading card about someone or something from history. Brainstorm leading questions to elaborate and expand ideas. Ask, "What questions would you like to ask someone you admire from history?"

    • When were you born?
    • When did you die?
    • Did you have a nickname?
    • Did you have a favorite saying?
    • Was there ever a controversy about you?
    • Did you have any defining life moments?
    • What's your favorite song?
    • Did you have a pet peeve?
    • Did you have any famous last words?
    • Did you have a favorite color?
    • What was your greatest achievement?
    • What was your most embarassing moment?
    • What was the biggest event in your life?
    • Who were your friends?
    • Did you have any enemies?


  • Have students choose 8 statistics/questions from the list they would like to include on a trading card for the American Flag they will design.

  • Students create rough drafts of the writing that will appear on the back of the card. Students revise and edit the short pieces of information in small groups.

  • Students will write final draft on card stock and illustrate reverse.

  • Repeat this assignment as you student other historical figures and symbols, so you can create a classroom deck of trading cards by selecting your top few cards with each topic.

Teacher-Made Sample:

Statue of Liberty

Born: France, July 4, 1884

Nickname: Lady Liberty

Favorite Saying: July IV MDCCLXXVI

Favorite Color: Copper

Most Embarrassing Moment: When I turned green

Greatest Achievement: Reassembling 214 cases and becoming whole again

Most Proud: Statuesque figure of 151 feet tall and weighing only 450,000 lbs.

Greatest Enemy: Salt water mist


The American Flag

Born: 1777

Nickname: Old Glory

Favorite Saying: Oh Say, Can You See

Biggest Controversy: Betsy Ross vs. Frances Hopkinson

Defining Life Event: When I changed from union jack to stars and stripes

Favorite Song: Star Spangled Banner by Frances Scott Key

Pet Peeve: People not respecting my code as law

Famous last words: In God we trust added to the pledge of allegiance

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