Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Teaching Patriotism


I always get a little disappointed this time of year when I see all sorts of cute 4th of July crafts and writing prompts that would be great for school.  Sure, there are a lot of people who are in school in July, but it's probably safe to say the majority aren't.

I really haven't taken a ton of time to teach about America and patriotism until this past school year.  With this past September being the 10 year anniversary of the September attacks on the United States, my colleagues and I found it was necessary to talk about this with our third graders.  We realized that not only did most of the kids not know what it was about, but we were now teaching a group of students who weren't even born when that historical even happened!  

(As a side note, my brother is going into 5th grade this coming school year and is one of the oldest in his class.  He was born a month and a half after September 11th!  He started watching a documentary about it on TV and I asked him if he knew what they were talking about...  His response was, "Wasn't that when some buildings in Detroit fell down?"  No clue.)

Nickelodeon aired a special on September 11th last year for the 10th anniversary.  It's really good at explaining things on a level that kids understand.  A fellow 3rd grade teacher passed it along to me after she showed it to her class.  I plan on showing it to my class this September as well.

Here is the link to the video on

My school has taken to celebrating Patriot Day (9-11) as a day to learn about our nation's history on that day and celebrating the freedom that we have as Americans.  I'm really hoping to expand this to a whole week's worth of reading and make it a theme.  I think it's important to not just focus on the bad, but also the good!  (The bad stuff can be scary and confusing to kids, so tread carefully when talking about those events.)  

I'm also excited that this is an election year (for multiple reasons) and that I also have the opportunity to teach about elections to my students.  I try to fit this one in each year, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.  I love social studies and the kids think it is sooooo cool to learn about things that are going on in the world.  I usually stretch this out over a few weeks...  First we talk about the branches of government, then how our leaders are elected, and finally we do president research projects.  (That could be a whole post by itself!)

I think it's important to teach our kids about our country, our history, and our government.  It amazes me at times how uninformed and ignorant some adults are.  I truly feel sometimes that my third graders know more than some adults I run across.  That shouldn't be the case!  I want my students to have an age-appropriate understanding of what's going on in their country and the world around them.  

So, how do you teach these things to your students?

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