How to Explain the National Anthem to Kids

How to Explain the National Anthem to Kids

The National Anthem: Teaching Our Children American Values - Your kids know the song instinctively. They hear it everywhere from sporting events to Independence Day celebrations. They join you as you stand, remove your hat, put your hand over your heart, and show respect for the flag as the familiar tune is sung. The National Anthem is a treasure that your kids recognize and respect, but do they know what it means?

Now is the perfect time to teach them. "The Star-Spangled Banner", our National Anthem, is important not just to know, but to understand and cherish. Here are a few ways to explain the deeper meaning of the National Anthem to your kids.

Learn the Words

First things first: teach your children the words. Write each word on an individual slip of paper, and have your kids put them in order, perhaps while listening to a favorite singer performing the anthem. Or print out the words and have your kids read them aloud, then circle the words that stand out most to them. Talk about the line that means the most to you, maybe "the land of the free and the home of the brave."

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

Learn the History

Start with the basics. This video sums up the history of the National Anthem in a way that kids can understand. After you watch the video together, see what your kids have learned with some basic questions.

  • Who wrote the National Anthem?
  • When was it written?
  • Where was the writer when he wrote it?
  • What was happening when the writer wrote it?


Picture Yourself There

Now that your kids know the basics, see if they can put themselves in Francis Scott Key's shoes. Ask them how they would have felt if they were alone and afraid in the midst of war. Describe the long night of worry and anxiety he faced. Then ask them how they would feel once they saw the American flag in the early morning light. Would they be proud, excited, relieved?

How to teach kids the National Anthem

(Fort McHenry, MD)

Make It Personal

This is the perfect opportunity to make the National Anthem personal to your kids' lives today. Tell your kids about the respect and pride we have in our national military and veterans. We are free because of the brave. Ask your kids how your family can support and thank a veteran this week. Can you send a thank-you card to someone you know who served in the military? Can you support veteran-run businesses or donate to organizations in your community that support veterans? Are there any memorials in your city's parks that you could visit?

One of the best ways you can teach your kids about our National Anthem and respect for the flag is to display a flag in your home and talk about it often. Try our Kid's American Flag Build Kit to continue the conversation with your kids. For a larger wooden American flag to proudly display in your home, check out our Old Glory Collection.

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