When it comes to being an American, there is much to celebrate: baseball, apple pie, and landmarks such as Mount Rushmore are a few things that might come to mind. And while these are certainly a part of the culture, there are some even more important defining characteristics: our ability to vote, our freedom of speech, our rich diversity — and so much more. It’s easy to take for granted the many freedoms we enjoy that our forefathers fought so hard to defend. That’s why teaching students patriotism is important. The following are five simple suggestions for creating a patriotic atmosphere in your classroom.
1. Celebrate Our Safety Officials
There are many in our local communities who help keep our country safe each day and should be honored and celebrated, including but certainly not limited to police officers, firefighters, and military personnel. For children and young adults, however, people working in these career fields — and particularly those dressed in uniform — can sometimes seem scary and intimidating. In order to help students overcome their fears, devote a day, or even a week, to learning about one or more of these career paths. For example, invite a local law enforcement official and his or her K-9 into your classroom to demonstrate commands, pay a visit to a fire station to get a closer look at the trucks and gear, or view the exhibits at a nearby military museum.
2. Stock Your Shelves with Patriotic Magazines and Books
An easy way to teach your students about patriotism is to provide them with interesting reading materials featuring themes and storylines that celebrate our country, especially if reading time is a regular part of your students’ daily schedule. Click here for suggested books to add to your classroom library. You can also try a reader’s theater with your students to capture their interest, such as these free scripts inspired by songs such as “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” “God Bless the USA,” and more.
3. Explain the Meaning Behind the Pledge of Allegiance
It’s a familiar scene in classrooms across the U.S. each morning: students standing, facing the American flag, most with their hands over their hearts, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Then they slump back into their seats to start the school day with little thought for the promise they just made. How many of these students really understand the significance of what they’re saying — or even know what the words “pledge” and “allegiance” mean? How many are only standing and saying the Pledge because they’ve been told to do so? Take the time to explain what each of the words and phrases mean so that your students can understand the importance of the Pledge of Allegiance to our country.
4. Hold a Mock Election
Getting to participate in the election process is not only a privilege but also a responsibility for each U.S. citizen. It’s a way for Americans to have their voices heard about the issues that are important to them. On the other hand, not voting means letting others decide your future for you. To teach the importance of voting to your students, hold a mock election in your classroom, whether it’s for an actual candidate or for something as simple as your students’ favorite food or book. Don’t forget to give your students plenty of time to discuss why they feel the way they do with their classmates prior to the actual vote.
5. Be an Example
You know that old saying “Do as I say, not as I do”? If you want to instill in students a love for their country, this is not a very effective motto to live by. Instead, carefully model the behaviors you want your students to adopt, such as patriotism, respect, and bravery. Children and young adults are paying close attention to the actions and choices of their parents, teachers, and other role models, even when we think they’re not watching or don’t care.
Continuing the Learning
Instilling a spirit of patriotism in your students shouldn’t stop at the classroom door. An easy way to extend your classroom efforts is by hanging patriotic banners and flags in your school’s hallways. Prosign Design Co. offers a variety of affordable character trait banners featuring patriotic messaging, such as respect, citizenship, courage, and more. Click here to view the complete list.