Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1st: Francis Scott Key's Birthday - A Poetry Break

Born in 1780, August 1, 2010 is the 230th birthday of Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote the poem that ultimately became the national anthem of the United States of America. When sharing the poem, invite the children to help read the last line of each stanza, "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave." In addition, bring other poetry books like We the People by Bobbi Katz and some facts about the Star-Spangle Banner to celebrate Key's birthday and history of the American Flag.


The Star-spangled Banner
By Francis Scott Key

Oh, say can you see by the dawns early light
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly streaming
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the must of the deep,
Where the foes haughtly host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, have discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream.
'Tis the star-spangle banner, oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grace.
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh, thus be it ever when freeman shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace ma the heav'n-rescued land
Praised the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
The conquer we must, when our caused it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our Trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 1994. Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry. Illus. by Peter M. Flore. NY: Simon & Schuster/Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 067173315X.

After reading the poem, invite the children to sing the entire poem to the music of the national anthem. For a fun craft, have them make a historically accurate American Flag (15 stars and 15 stripes) flags form, and have them write the entire poem or their favorite stanza or two on the back or have them write the national anthem (the first stanza) with colored pens/markers/pencils so that it looks like the 1814 American flag.

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