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Activities for your unit on American Symbols
American Symbols
20 Feb, 2016. 3 Comments. A Day In First Grade, Kindergarten, Kindergarten Social Studies. Posted By: Kristen Smith

Part of our Social Studies standards require that we teach our kindergarten students about American symbols and famous presidents. This is not one of those topics that makes me jump for joy. However, I have learned my lesson. When I get to a topic like this, I dig deep and research and plan until I am so excited to teach the concept. I have found that teacher enthusiasm can go a very long way.

This unit has been no exception to this theory of mine. I got to work and began planning tons of ideas that would would encourage my kinders to be super excited about our new topic. I created a series of 8 lessons that would focus on one topic/symbol per day. I am pleased to share with you, some of the fun we have been having.

On the first day, we reviewed what a symbol was. My students are pretty familiar with the term “symbol” at this point in the year. Therefore, I let them be the teachers and I projected a bunch of symbols (caution signs, stop signs, poison signs, etc.) on my board and let my students come up one at a time to “teach” about the symbol of their choice.  They told their friends what they knew and where they might see the symbol. Then, we watched the Brain Pop Jr. episode about “Safety Signs.” After the video, I gave my students a blank piece of white construction paper and the choice of a blue rhombus, yellow rhombus, or red, green, or yellow circle punch out.  (I had punched these out in advance.) They had to turn their colored shape into a symbol and illustrate a picture of where that symbol might be found. They then wrote about their picture and shared their writing and drawings with the class.

The next day, we began talking about American symbols. We began with the flag.  As a Morning Meeting activity, we started with unscrambling the pledge of allegiance.

A super simple Morning Meeting activity- unscrambling the pledge of allegiance A super simple Morning Meeting activity- unscrambling the pledge of allegiance

We also read the book, “America The Beautiful.”

A beautiful picture book when studying America

During math rotations that day, my students worked on writing their numbers from 1-50 in stars.

Kindergarten students practice writing their numbers 1-50 during their American symbols unit

We also painted the flag during exploration centers. (We added the stars the next day!)

Kindergarten students paint the American flag during their American symbols unit Kindergarten students paint the American flag during their American symbols unit

The next day, we learned about George Washington.  We read a book called A Picture Books Of George Washington and completed a simple craft and writing activity. (Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of it!)

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 12.06.10 PM

During literacy centers, my students loved working on these additions to our shelves.

American symbols syllable game:

A Montessori-inspired syllable center when studying American Symbols

For this game, my students lay out their work mat and take out all the cards. Then, they clap out the syllables and cover the correct number with a gem.

American symbols syllable center American symbols syllable center American symbols syllable center American symbols syllable center

This year, my students LOVE nomenclature cards. It is a hot ticket item on my literacy shelf and they were beyond excited to find a new set!

Nomenclature cards when studying American symbols

The next day, we studied Abraham Lincoln. We read “I am Abraham Lincoln.”

(If you don’t have this book, I strongly encourage you to add it to your collection!! You can get it here.)

"I am Abraham Lincoln" a perfect picture book when studying presidents!

We also watched part of the video called, “Adventures From The Book Of Virtues: Honest Abe.” (We started it at 15:08)

This short video produced a wonderful conversation on what it means to be honest and how to live a life of honor. Throughout the day, my students kept comparing nice deeds to Abraham Lincoln. “You are acting like Abraham Lincoln, well done!”

The book and video made such an impression on my young learners, that one child raised his hand before we began our exploration centers and asked, “Miss Smith, can we create Abraham Lincoln hats and costumes??”

I gladly took out the supplies they requested and a small group of students got to work on their hats and costumes.

Kindergarten students create an Abraham Lincoln costume to go along with their American symbols unit!Kindergarten students create an Abraham Lincoln costume to go along with their American symbols unit!

After they completed their hats, they looked in the mirror and exclaimed, “we need beards!!”

Kindergarten students create an Abraham Lincoln costume to go along with their American symbols unit!

After a few trials and errors, they succeeded in attaching a beard to their hats!

Their final projects were SO darling!

Kindergarten students create an Abraham Lincoln costume to go along with their American symbols unit!

Notice how he completed the look with a bow tie!

Of course, this encouraged many other students to create hats, too!

Kindergarten students create an Abraham Lincoln costume to go along with their American symbols unit!

During literacy centers that day, my students reviewed the sounds of /ch/ and /sh/ and sorted word cards and then wrote them down.

Kindergarten students practice sorting word cards during a unit on American symbols and presidents

During Math, we learned that Abraham Lincoln was 6’4″ tall. To practice our measuring skills, my students worked on measuring American symbol cards. They LOVED this.

Kindergarten students practice measuring American symbol cards Kindergarten students practice measuring American symbol cards

While studying the Statue Of Liberty, my students enjoyed painting her at the easel. By simply placing a provocation at the easel, this ignited a desire to look closely at Lady Liberty and to paint her!

A Reggio-inspired provocation that encourages students to look closely at the Statue of Liberty. Great for your unit on American Symbols!

My students complimented their friends as they worked and discussed what they saw in the picture. They couldn’t wait for their turn!

A Reggio-inspired provocation that encourages students to look closely at the Statue of Liberty. Great for your unit on American Symbols! A Reggio-inspired provocation that encourages students to look closely at the Statue of Liberty. Great for your unit on American Symbols!

The final products came out so great!

We had an absolute blast studying American symbols and I can’t wait for next week when we get to learn about Mount Rushmore, bald eagles, and the Liberty Bell!

If you would like to purchase these lesson plans, centers, and activities, they are all available in my store on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can find them by clicking on the picture below!

Activities for your unit on American Symbols

(This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.)

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3 Comments
  1. Jill -

    Thank you so much for sharing the awesome activities to bring the American Symbols lessons to life! You are so talented and creative! I am very grateful and love learning from you! The children will enjoy this fun and meaningful unit!

  2. Kristen, I am intrigued by the photos in your classroom, and particularly interested in the “provocations”. I do have Montessori training, and use Montessori in much of my approach with children, and, it is my understanding “provocations” is a term used often with Reggio. Do you have a collection of “provocations” or questions, or some general suggestions on how to set them up? I would start first with math . . .

    Thank you so much for your beautiful work and positive enthusiasm! I look forward to hearing from you.
    Robin

    • Hi Robin! Thanks so much for messaging me! You are correct. The term “provocation” is typically associated with Reggio-inspired schools. Unfortunately, I don’t have a collection of provocations that I have set out. I do, however, have a blog post specifically on provocations that might help you. You can read it here: http://adayinfirstgrade.com/2016/02/using-provocations-in-your-kindergarten-classroom.html I have found that my students LOVE these invitations to dig deeper and explore. I hope that helps! :) I’m so glad that you enjoy my blog. I plan on writing a few more blog posts on provocations that I have set out more recently. Hope you are having a good night.

3 Comments

  • Jill -

    Thank you so much for sharing the awesome activities to bring the American Symbols lessons to life! You are so talented and creative! I am very grateful and love learning from you! The children will enjoy this fun and meaningful unit!

  • Kristen, I am intrigued by the photos in your classroom, and particularly interested in the “provocations”. I do have Montessori training, and use Montessori in much of my approach with children, and, it is my understanding “provocations” is a term used often with Reggio. Do you have a collection of “provocations” or questions, or some general suggestions on how to set them up? I would start first with math . . .

    Thank you so much for your beautiful work and positive enthusiasm! I look forward to hearing from you.
    Robin

    • Hi Robin! Thanks so much for messaging me! You are correct. The term “provocation” is typically associated with Reggio-inspired schools. Unfortunately, I don’t have a collection of provocations that I have set out. I do, however, have a blog post specifically on provocations that might help you. You can read it here: http://adayinfirstgrade.com/2016/02/using-provocations-in-your-kindergarten-classroom.html I have found that my students LOVE these invitations to dig deeper and explore. I hope that helps! :) I’m so glad that you enjoy my blog. I plan on writing a few more blog posts on provocations that I have set out more recently. Hope you are having a good night.

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