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Main Curriculum Tie:
Background For Teachers:
Children begin at a very early age to learn the meaning of symbols in our culture and environment. Understanding the meaning of some universal symbols, such as traffic signs and signals, handicap logos, gender signs on restrooms, etc., is essential for responsible membership in society. Other signs and symbols are reflective of middle American values and habits: golden arches and other fast food logos; polka dot donut boxes, labeling on media and entertainment products, etc.
Preschool and Kindergarten children learn symbols for alphabet letters and numerals. Many children arrive at school with a firm grasp of these abstract symbols. Other children require time and support to learn these essential literacy and numeric skills. Just as adult support is required for mastery of the early academic skills, teachers need to help children understand that our national symbols “represent thoughts, feelings, emotions and physical objects.” Exposure to national symbols helps children develop a sense of patriotism and belonging in their communities and country. Participation and civic involvement are important democratic values that can be enhanced and encouraged. Activities to teach and instill a respect for our flag, the pledge of allegiance, liberty bell, statue of liberty, bald eagle and others are introduced.
Fast Flag Facts for Teachers
Intended Learning Outcomes:
Prior to the children arriving at school, display signs and wordless logos around the room. As the children arrive, let them discover the posted items. These displays may include: pictures of road signs, fast food restaurant signs, empty boxes of familiar products, handicap parking labels, etc. As the children observe the displays, begin a discussion of what each item represents. Include the words symbol and represents (or “stands for”) at this stage in the discussion to begin the children’s understanding of the concept of symbol.
Symbols and the American Flag
The Pledge of Allegiance
The Bald Eagle
American Symbols Lotto
American Flag Collage
DeLoache, J.S. (1995). Early understanding and use of symbols: the model. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 4, 109-113.
Symbols set human thought apart from other creatures. Adults have had so much experience with symbols that we assume everyone interprets them in the same way we do. Participation in any culture requires an understanding of various relevant symbols. Through experience children learn about abstract and representational relationships.
Browne, William P. (2001). Citizenship education: Policy and practice in the elementary grades. Education, 94, (2), 149-159.
Although “citizenship training” is a traditional educational goal, it has not been systematically included in elementary school curriculum. “National loyalty, patriotism, and allegiance” can best be developed through the use of rituals and routines in the classroom, such as the Pledge of Allegiance.
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