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TPS Quarterly

The Library of Congress > Teachers > TPS Program > Learning Activity (Elem.)

Stars, Stripes and Symbols of America: Comparing Our Flag, Past and Present

In this activity, students will learn about an important national symbol: the American flag. Students will analyze an image of an American flag from the post-Civil War era (1865-7) and compare its details (i.e., the stars and stripes) to those of our nation’s flag today. This activity may be extended so that students analyze other national symbols to consider their importance to Americans.

After completing the activity, students will be able to:

  • Identify the American flag as a national symbol
  • Analyze details of this symbol
  • Compare two different versions of the American flag to understand why this symbol has changed over time

Time Required

One class period

Recommended Grade Range



Government, Law


Language Arts, Social Studies


Standards & Benchmarks

Grades K-4 History
Standard 4. Understands how democratic values came to be, and how they have been exemplified by people, events and symbols.

Thinking and Reasoning
Standard 3. Effectively uses mental processes that are based on identifying similarities and differences.

Language Arts: Writing
Standard 1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process.

Language Arts: Listening and Speaking
Standard 8. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.

Activity adapted from “Stars, Stripes and Symbols,” a lesson plan created by Sonja Huddleston and Angie Willis, Sheridan Elementary School, Bloomington School District 87, Illinois.

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