What’s in A Flag?
- Explore the importance of flags as symbols of unity, and shared values, interests, and hopes
- Work together to design a classroom flag that reflects their collective identity
Social groups provide several benefits to their members, such as fulfilling the need to belong and promoting positive self-esteem, and most groups use symbols (i.e., flags) to create and communicate their members’ shared identity, characteristics, and values. During this activity, educators should encourage students to practice collaboration, diplomacy, and inclusivity as they work together on a classroom flag. For example, educators should guide students to listen to each other’s ideas and figure out a way to include different perspectives into the final design, and ensure that the flag captures and celebrates the diversity of their classroom community.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
- Art materials (e.g., fabric, paper, pens, markers, and paint)
- Visit this resource (from the World Economic Forum) to explore flags from different countries and learn about their symbolism. If there’s a flag that stands out to students, encourage them to perform additional research and investigate its history.
- To use this activity as part of LGBTIQA+ Pride Month (June), visit this digital exhibition (hosted on Google Arts and Culture) that displays a fragment of the original Pride flag. Another digital exhibition also showcases how the Pride flag has changed in the past few decades to support activist movements.
- Introduce the activity to students by explaining: “Have you ever looked at a flag and wondered why it was created? These colorful pieces of fabric are powerful symbols that inspire a sense of pride and belonging. When we see a flag, it reminds us that we belong to a community and helps us feel more connected to each other. Today, we’ll be working on a special project: a classroom flag that represents all of us.”
- Engage students in a discussion by asking the following questions, and write down their ideas on a physical or digital board that is visible to everyone:
• Think about a flag that you are familiar with. What does it look like? What do you think these different elements represent? Why do you think this flag was created?
• How would you describe our class? What are some interesting things about us, and that you feel proud of? (e.g., our interests, achievements, cultures, and traditions)
• What are some values that are important to our class, like kindness and respect?
• What type of community do we want to create and inspire? For example, one where everyone feels included and supported by others.
• How can we share these qualities in a class flag? What symbols, colors, words, patterns, or other design elements should we include?
• Are there any landmarks or environmental features in our local community that we should include in our class flag too?
- Divide students into small groups or pairs, and assign each group a specific part of the flag to work on. For example, one group might focus on the flag’s symbols, another on the colors, and another on the words.
Provide any necessary art materials and encourage students to collaborate with their group members, using creativity, open-mindedness, and teamwork to design their portion of the flag together.
- Once each group has completed their part, gather everyone and ask each group to present their ideas and explain the reasoning behind their choices. Encourage other students to ask questions or provide feedback to their peers.
- Based on this discussion, work together to combine the different elements into a cohesive design (e.g., by holding a class vote). Remind students that the flag should represent their collective identity, and it’s important that everyone is able to contribute their ideas and feels included in the process.
- Once the design has been finalized, use a large sheet of paper or fabric to create the actual flag. Students can take turns coloring, decorating, and adding finishing touches.
Display your flag in a prominent place in the classroom, such as on the wall, and take a moment to celebrate students’ collaborative efforts and the representation of their shared identity.
- Prompt students to reflect on how flags can evolve and undergo changes, especially in response to historical events, social progress movements, and cultural transformations.
- Then, invite students to reimagine their country or state flag, and redesign it to be more modern and inclusive. What changes would they make to the current design, and why would these changes be meaningful to them and their fellow citizens?
If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...
Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call.
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.
If students in either class don’t have individual devices...
Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.