I like to integrate my teaching as much as possible (since we all know the sheer quantity of content we have to teach nowadays is staggering!) So instead of simply reading a biography about Betsy Ross during our unit on the American Revolution, I used the literature as a springboard for two different classroom courses of study.
You know about the Hanger Biographies. The Betsy Ross
Biography was a model that we used when filing in the whole class graphic organizers.
What I haven't told you about were the flags. The "main idea" of the Betsy Ross legend (as we learned, there are various schools of thought on whether or not she ACTUALLY did create the first American Flag) is that she is the originator of the flag. So each student put themselves in the role of Betsy and thought about what they would do if approached by the founding fathers to create a flag representative of the new nation. We talked about what the symbols and colors on the flag meant.
Enchanted learning has a very simple, easy to read explanation of color symbolism on flags here.
There are many different places where the meaning behind the stripes and stars on our American Flag can be found. Here and here are a few that I used.
After all of the thinking and writing, the students then got to create the flag itself. We made foil balloon flags. This is my favorite art project all year. The kids love it, it is just different enough that it is intriguing to look at, and they come out GREAT! For step by step directions on how to make these, you can read my post on Classroom DIY. I laid it out completely over there. Here, though, I will leave you some pictures of them.
So there you have it. Foil balloon flags, inspired by Betsy Ross. The students really did enjoy this project. Thinking about why they were putting each symbol on the flag helped them to make inferences and justify their thinking. Diagramming and writing just brought it all together. All in all, a project well worth the time.