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This week, the Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States of America, will celebrate its 202 anniversary of when Francis Scott Key wrote it during the attack on Fort McHenry. Many music educators address this during their music classes this week. If this is something you have done or would like to do, there are numerous free resources available to assist with the lesson. Here are just a few:
- http://amhistory.si.edu/starspangledbanner/the-lyrics.aspx – This site from the Smithsonian shows the manuscript, all four verses of the song, and a 19th century MP3 recording performed on original instruments from the National Museum of American History’s collection.
- http://www.history.com/news/9-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-star-spangled-banner – This is an interesting article that lists nine things that you might not have known about the Star-Spangled Banner.
- http://library.mtsu.edu/tps/lessonplans&ideas/Lesson_Plan–Star-Spangled_Banner.pdf – This is a lesson plan authored by Suzanne Costner, an elementary teacher at Fairview Elementary, Blount County Schools. In her materials, she provides links to The Library of Congress’s original manuscript. Her link for the original song sheet does not work. However, if you search the Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=Star%20Spangled%20Banner%20song), you will find some photos of the song. I am going to try this lesson with my fourth grade this week as it addresses their higher order thinking skills. I can group the students into small groups and have the students reflect on the questions using Seesaw (web.seesaw.me), a free digital learning app for iPads, Chromebooks, Laptops, and Android devices.
- http://americanhistory.mrdonn.org/starspangledbanner.html – This site gives you numerous links to additional Star-Spangled Banner resources for teachers and students.
- These next two are not free unless you subscribe to them:
- If you subscribe to MusicFirst, there is a lesson included the Shared Unit-SMART Board lessons titled, “Curriculum Connection: The History of the Star-Spangled Banner”.
- If you subscribe to Silver-Burdett’s Online Learning Exchange, there are activities for this song included in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
I have performed a variety of activities throughout the years that I have taught the history of the song to grades K-4. Some of their favorite activities are:
- Learning and performing the etiquette to when they hear the national anthem at a sports event.
- Viewing a variety of videos with performers of the anthem from a solo singer, to a group singer, to solo instruments, etc, so that they can hear and use a compare/contrast (double bubble) thinking map to reflect.
- Using SMART Notebook sentence arranger tool, mix up the phrases and have the students put the song back together. You can also do this by printing the lyrics, cutting up the phrases, placing them in an envelope, and give each envelope to the groups that you created in the classroom.
- After the kindergarteners practice the etiquette, they color the flag and bring the coloring sheet home. On the coloring sheet, I have written the activity so the parents can ask questions to their children about it.
- Since there is current news making headlines about some choosing to not stand during the national anthem, I read about how to approach this on the Music Teachers Facebook page and thought that it was a great idea:
- https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PechzO5LASs – Show this video of the pole vaulter who is an US Army reservist and track and field star, Sam Kendricks, who stopped mid-run when he heard the anthem played.
- https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ktCZBiEK408 – Usain Bolt from Jamaica, stops an interview when the Star-Spangled Banner is played. He stands in respect and then continues the interview after the anthem is finished.
These are just some ideas. There are many more that can be found through a simple google search of “Star-Spangled Banner lesson.”
What are some of your activities to celebrate the 202 anniversary?
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com