American Flags for Kids Lesson Plan
Why Do we Have Flag Day in the USA
Even though it is not a federal holiday, patriotic citizens still celebrate Flag Day in honor of Old Glory—the nick name for our US flag. Each year on June 14th, Americans glorify the birthday of their stars and stripes clad banner, which took its place in history on June 14th, 1777. It was at this time the Continental Congress approved the new flag design, and set into action that this flag would be a symbol of the new Nation. The nation in question? The one we know as the United States of America of course!
USA Flag Proportions
USA Flag Anatomy
- Hoist (width) of flag................1.0
- Fly (length) of flag.................1.9
- Hoist (width) of Union.............0.5385
- Fly (length) of union...............0.769
- Diameter of each star.............0.0616
Flag Proportions as Defined by Executive Order in 1959, by the President of the United States of America
When Did the USA Flag First Fly at a Flag Day Event
In 1861, Hartford, Connecticut was the first location to hoist the American flag in an actual Flag Day celebration. This was also the first summer we were fighting the civil war. However, on June 14th, 1877, the one hundred year (centennial) anniversary of the the original flag approval, the first national acknowledgement occurred.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson recommended that an official nationwide measure to honor June 14th as Flag Day was announced. But, it wasn't until 1949 that Congress confirm the date as a permanent holiday.
"...the 14th of June of each year is hereby designated as Flag Day..."
It was President Harry Truman who signed the measure into law.
Hartford, Connecticut Hosted The American Flag Debut
In 1861, Hartford, Connecticut was the first location to hoist the American flag in an actual Flag Day celebration.
Labeled Parts of the American Flag
The US Flag Design Today
The American flag was regulated in its measurable proportions by President Eisenhower on August 21, 1959. But the entire design has its regulations as well; the American flag must consist of:
- Six white and seven red alternating stripes, making Thirteen in all.
- Each stripe is positioned horizontally on top of the other (the first stripe at the top must be red).
- White five-point stars placed on a field of blue.
- The field of blue has to be placed in the top left corner closest to the flagpole.
- The field of blue also has to extend to the bottom of the fourth red stripe from the top.
- The number of stars must indicate the equal number of states that are in the union at the time the flag is created.
Betsy Ross 13 Star Early American Flag
A Flag of Thirteen Stars and Stripes
Did Betsy Ross Really Make the American Flag
When the Revolutionary War was in full force, there were many folks who were extremely patriotic that made flags during that same time. Betsy Ross, who is the most recognized name, made flags for about fifty years. But, there is no real proof that she was the maker of the first historical American flag. Records show that Betsy worked for the Pennsylvania State Navy, where she made flags in 1777, but the "Betsy Ross Flag" (most notably recognized by the arrangement of stars in a circle on the blue field) wasn't around until the beginning of the 1790s.
William Canby and the American Flag (Betsy Ross' Grandson)
According to American History records, it wasn't until Betsy's Grandson, William Canby, presented a speech in front of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1870, that things turned to Betsy's favor. He essentially stated, that when he was a little boy he witnessed a group of people, claiming they were a committee of Congress, who essentially asked Betsy Ross to make a flag from a rough drawing the group presented. He then went on to say, that among the committee was General Washington (who later became the President of the United States when he was inaugurated in 1789, and then again in 1792).
Canby continued, saying that the flag drawing they gave to Betsy was redrawn by General Washington in the back room of Betsy's home, where Betsy's suggestions were implemented. He swore that the date of this event was (prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence) the same as that of Washington's visit to Congress from New York in June, 1776. History would indicate that Canby's presentation to the Historical society carried enough believability, that history calls on Betsy Ross as the maker of the first true American flag.
Names for the Union Flag
4 Union Flag Names
- Grand Union Flag
- First Navy Ensign
- Congress Colors
- Cambridge Flag
The American Grand Union Flag
The first flag that had a slight similarity to our well known modern stars and stripes was the Grand Union Flag. Just like Betsy Ross's famous flag, this design had thirteen alternating red and white stripes that were representative of the then Thirteen Colonies. However, very unlike Betsy's flag, this one had a blue field in the upper left-hand corner (where we now see our stars on a field of blue) that had the red cross of St. George of England, along with the white cross of St. Andrew of Scotland centered there.
The Grand Union Flag
This was the flag of "the revolution" and was put to use quite often. It was the first flag to be flown by the Colonial Fleet, and it was the first "unofficial" national flag of July 4, 1776, Independence Day. The Grand Union Flag continued be be used as the unofficial flag and ensign of the Navy until June 14, 1777—the date in which the stars and stripes would be authorized by the Continental Congress.
Why Did the Flag Change to Stars and Stripes
When the final separation between Great Britain and the American Colonies occurred, the British Union was removed from the blue field of our flag, which was then replaced by white stars to represent each state of the union.
Fifteen Stars and Stripes Flag
Fifteen Stars and Fifteen Stripes
Fifteen Stripes on the American Flag
As the concepts surrounding the successful progress of the colonies grew, so did the number of states within it. In January of 1794, a resolution was passed that would mandate the addition of one star and one stripe for each newly admitted state. Thus our flag was given two extra stars; one for Kentucky, and the other for Vermont. This brought the stars and stripes count to fifteen each, which was actually no big deal, but that would change when a little thought was put into this idea.
This flag is Francis Scott Key's muse for writing "The Star Spangled Banner"
The Trouble With New Stars and Stripes
When a Navy officer realized that adding a new stripe for every new state would, in time, make the flag far too large to manage, he came up with an idea and presented it to Congress. His idea was to return the flag to its original thirteen stripes as a nod to the original Thirteen Colonies. Then, only a new star would be added to the field of blue in representation of the new state joining the union. This would assure that the growth of the Nation, (as well as the new state) was respectfully symbolized.
President Monroe, on April 4, 1818 approved this plan; and so, the stars and stripes remain thirteen stripes in hoist, and currently, fifty stars strong.
Flag Sizes for Flagpole Height
FLAG SIZE (ft.)
FLAGPOLE HEIGHT (ft.)
Rules for Flying the USA Flag
What Size Flag Can I Fly on a Flagpole
The height of the flagpole you will be using determines the size of the flag. The only real rule is that the flag must be the right proportion for the pole being used.
- Flag Size for angled poles on a house = 3' x 5' and 4' x 6'
- Flag Size for Standing Flagpoles (offices and other inside places) = 3' x 5' and 4' x 6'
- Flag Size for Color Guard Formations = 4' x 6'
For other recommended flag sizes see chart at right.
How to Flod the USA Flag
Step by Step Directions for Folding the American Flag
The steps for properly folding the American Flag:
- Two people stand facing each other and hold the flag lengthwise between them.
- Fold the flag in half lengthwise.
- Then fold it again into a quarter length.
- Keep the flag taunt and squared at the folds.
- Start to fold the flag in triangle shapes, beginning from the striped end.
- Keep the triangles tight and straight as you fold each new triangular section. (Be sure to push the air pockets that form during the layering of the material out of the folded sections as you go.)
- It is really important that the flag is tight and free of air pockets when you get to the field of starts.
- Tuck the end into the final fold opening.
Resources for Further Flag Education
Properly Folded American Flag
What Should the Flag Look Like After it Has Been Folded
You know you have done a great job folding your American flag when there is a single star situated at the top point of the triangle, and the row of stars at the bottom of the triangle is as straight as possible. Now go show your family and friends how to fold the flag!
How Much do You Know About the American Flag?
Current USA 50 Stars Flag
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