First, another Buffalo State student, Laci, showed the children pictures of the many variations of the flag over the years. The students, without being asked, started to name some of the differences they saw, from the addition of more stars, to the change of formation the stars are in. They were extremely intrigued with this. We did this in a group circle so we could have a more personal discussion based lesson. I was very impressed by the students picking up some of the differences right away. We then went on to explain that each star represents a state and the more states we gained over the years, the more stars we needed. I believe it helped that I was able to write every single state on the board before we started. The children had a lot of fun trying to guess what state we were from! This was all discussed with very simple English, which made the lesson so challenging, as this material can get very in depth. It was extremely helpful to have Frau Heinz there to translate to the children the things they did not understand.
One point of the lesson I found very hard to discuss with the students was the concept of the stripes on the flag. After hearing the stars represent the 50 states, the children asked what the stripes are for. I found this to be a very advanced question and was really happy to see the connection they made between the representation of the shapes and colors on the flag. It was hard to explain that these can show our original 13 colonies. To explain the colonies clearly we would have to go very in depth about the history of the states, which was not possible as the children spoke minimal English. Instead, Jenessa told the children that a colony is what came before a state. This is when Frau Heinz made a comparison to Germany and what could have been considered a colony in Germany. I think this was extremely helpful to the children in their overall understanding of the flag.
The lesson at this point was going extremely well and before they did their activity, I decided to be brave and sing the states song to them. I am not a good singer, but I figured that children really don't care about that anyway! It was fun because I had all the states written down in alphabetical order already so the children could follow along with me pointing at each of the states I was singing! This was really fun but also a little bit terrifying. I guess it was good to come out of my shell in this experience overseas! After this we wrapped up with a coloring activity! We gave them their own flags and pencils and then we gave them an outline of the American flag and let them color it in themselves! It was so much fun and so meaningful to be able to teach them a little bit about the flag. I really enjoyed this experience and I was able to gain so much from it. It was such an exciting day and I still keep reflecting about it and learning so much!