Independence Day WebQuest!
Looking for a fun challenge that will also help you learn a lot about American history? Feel free to try any or all of the challenges below. 
You may work independently or with a group of classmates.
Use the links below to find answers and create your own independent class!
**You may share your project with the class in September for extra credit in Social Studies.**
Interested in learning more about fireworks? Scroll to the bottom of this page!

Background
Start the fireworks! Strike up the band! Throw a parade! Your class has voted to leave your school. That's right, your class is on its own! You and your classmates are tired of all the rules your Principal keeps making. So your class has decided to form a school all by itself. Your class has become Independent!

This is pretty exciting news! The only problem is nobody else knows. Everyone still thinks you are part of the same old school. You don't feel all that different either. It still seems like the same old class in the same old school. It's no fun being independent when no one else even knows, including the students themselves!

While this activity is just pretend, it was the same problem the original 13 colonies faced when they decided to separate from England way back in 1776 (That's over 200 years ago!). How did the colonies show everyone that they were no longer part of England? What did they do to make themselves feel American?

What the colonists created were symbols to represent America and freedom. Symbols are things like logos, songs, buildings, monuments, uniforms, or even pictures that have come to mean or represent something to people.

Symbols are used in advertising all the time. For example, "Golden Arches" remind people of MacDonald's hamburger restaurants. A picture of an apple often stands for school or education. Pretending to make an advertisement for your own "country" will help answer the questions about early America. Good luck and have fun!

 
The Task (what you have to do)

What your newly independent class needs to do is make up some symbols that will remind them they are independent and different from the rest of the classes who remain part of the school. Remember, symbols are things that are important to you and your class. Things that say, "This is who we are!"

First, complete the following steps. These steps will help you learn symbols. After you have finished the steps, you will make some symbols for your independent class.

The Process (How you do it)
Step 1 - Start a vocabulary list

To start your vocabulary list, look up all of the underlined words below:
  • independent
  • original
  • colonies
  • symbols
  • taxation
  • representation
  • monarcy
  • democracy
  • current
  • celebrate
  • statue
  • monument
Keep this list by your computer. You may have to look at it again.
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Flag
Challenge

Many people say that General George Washington asked Betsy Ross to make a flag that would belong to the new United States of America. Use the links to answer the following questions:

Original American Flag

1. How many stars are on the original American flag? Why do you think she used that many? http://www.usflag.org/betsy.ross.flag.html

2. How many stripes are on the original American flag? http://www.usflag.org/the.50.star.flag.html
Current American Flag


3. How are the two flags different?

4. Why do you think the number of stars on the original flag is less than the number on the current flag?

The colonies broke away from England to form the United States of America. Take a look at this example of the "Union Jack" or British flag. http://www.enchantedlearning.com/europe/britain/flag.shtml

5. Did the colonies borrow anything from the British in designing the American flag?


Here's some other American and state flags. They might help you with your  flag.

http://www.usflag.org/toc.flags.html

 

Now it's your turn to be "Betsy Ross."

  • What would you like your newly independent class flag to look like?
  • What are some symbols you would put on your flag?
  • What colors are you going to use?
  • What pictures might you put on it?
Design and draw a new one on 11 x 17 paper or cloth.
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Anthem (Song)
Challenge


Just like the American flag reminds us of America and being American, songs can do the same thing. Some of these songs officially represent a country because of a law. These songs are called anthems. Other patriotic songs are not official but still remind people of a country.

Anthems are also symbols. The words and sounds of the song have special meaning. Listen to a recording of America's national anthem and answer the following questions:

1. What is the name of our National Anthem?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star-Spangled_Banner

2. Who wrote the song?

3. What does the song remind you of?

4. What story does the song tell?

5. Why do you think this song is special?

Your independent class will also need an anthem or official patriotic song. Think of a story you might want your song to tell. Think about the words your song would have?

Don't forget music. What kinds of instruments can you use? So it is easy for everyone to learn, many national anthems use the tune for old folk songs that everyone already knows. Then they add new words.

Think of a simple tune everyone knows. Write some new words for it as a class anthem. Of course, you may also write a new tune but keep it simple and easy to remember!

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Holiday
Challenge

Holidays are symbols too. Besides no school, which is great, holidays are important ways we remember something special. Usually the holiday marks something which happened on that very same day in history. Answer the following questions.

1. Can you think of a day which is important only to you? (Sort of your very own holiday!)

2. What day do we celebrate America's birthday?

http://www.kidsdomain.com/holiday/july4/why.html

3. Can you name another American holiday?

4. Why is that holiday important to America?

5. What are some things we do to celebrate holidays?
http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/National_Symbols/American_Hollidays.html

Since your independent class is new, it will probably only have one holiday.

What day might that be? After you pick your day, name the holiday and think of some ways to celebrate it. Will you have a parade, a picnic, or something else? What kinds of things will people do to celebrate? What should everyone wear? Maybe you can make hats for everyone? How about some buttons? Be creative!

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Monuments Challenge

Have you ever seen a statue and thought to yourself, who was this person? Why did someone make a statue? Have your parents or teacher taken you to see a famous building, place, or maybe a wall with lots of names on it. Did you ask why did someone build these? Why are they important?

Well those are symbols too. We call them monuments.

Look at the following monuments and answer the questions:

1. Who was the person they named this monument after?
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/history/us/monuments/washingtonmonument/
http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/symbols/wa_monument.html

2. What event did they name this monument after?
http://www.vietvet.org/images/vn/billm/mywall1.gif
 The Vietnam Memorial http://orchard.sbschools.net/library/links/washington/#Vietnam%20Veterans%20Memorial 
http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/symbols/vietnam.html

3. Who are the people on this monument?
http://www.usacitylink.com/usa/?file=/citylink/usa/mount.html

4. Who did they name this monument after?
http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/symbols/jefferson.html

5. Who is the person in this statue?
http://www.thisnation.com/media/photos/lincolnmem.jpg
more info http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/symbols/lincoln.html

6. What does this statue represent?
http://www.nps.gov/stli/
more info http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/stories/history/statue-of-liberty/

Your independent class will need a monument too. Think about what you want your monument to be. You can either build something or draw a picture. You may use clay, playdough, popsicle sticks, or anything else you can think of.
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Final Step
Now that you know what symbols are, it's time to make some for your independent class.

To complete your independent or group activity, you can use any of the following:

* art supplies * colored paper * crayons * pens * felt * scraps * cloth * styrofoam * cardboard scraps * egg cartons (no eggs) * milk cartons (no milk) * computers * tape recorders * video recorders * chalk board * white board * anything you can imagine!

Learning Advice(Help)
  • Remember the symbols you have studied. Look back at the pictures or recordings of them. They will give you ideas for your own symbols.
  • Symbols that you make should be things which are important to your independent class.
  • If you having trouble getting started, talk with your family or group. Together you should come up with something.
  • Be creative and have fun.
Conclusion

September 13th will be time for your class Independence Day ceremony!! (It does not have to be on the same day as your class holiday.) Each individual or group should do the following:

1. Present your or your group's project to the class by....

  • Telling what you or your group learned about America's symbols.
  • Showing what you or your group made.
  • Explaining why you or your group used the things they did and what they mean.
  • Concluding why America celebrates its independence on the Fourth of July.
  2. Invite your principal and parents to the ceremony or make a display for them to see later.

Bonus: Ever wondered how fireworks work? Find out!
http://idahoptv.org/dialogue4kids/season6/fireworks/facts.cfm

or
http://www.howstuffworks.com/fireworks.htm