New Classroom Lesson Plan Celebrates Star-Spangled Banner

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Date: September 14, 2009
Contact: Kathy Kupper, (202) 208-6843
Contact: Vince Vaise, (410) 962-4290, ext. 201

WASHINGTON, DC – Standing on the deck of a British vessel, Francis Scott Key watched helplessly as ships from the greatest navy in the world rained shot and shell on Fort McHenry, the little fort protecting the city of Baltimore, Maryland. The inspiring story behind our national anthem is brought to life in a new classroom lesson plan, “The Rockets’ Red Glare:” Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry, found at

The lesson plan was created cooperatively by the National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places program and Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, a unit of the National Park System. The lesson was made possible in part with funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and completed in partnership with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers.

“This interactive lesson plan is filled with fascinating historical accounts, activities, maps, and illustrations that will expand traditional classroom instruction and really draw students into the story of Fort McHenry,” said Dan Wenk, Acting Director of the National Park Service.

In the lesson plan, students will learn the importance of Fort McHenry and the events that took place there on September 12-14, 1814. They will investigate the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” analyze its meaning, and identify ways in which it and the American victory at Fort McHenry contributed and continue to contribute to Americans’ pride in their nation and sense of belonging to it. 

The lesson contains a firsthand account of the battle by the fort’s commanding officer, a historic engraving of the bombardment, the text of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a photograph of the conserved flag, additional historical information, photographs of the fort, maps, learning activities, and a Supplementary Resources section.

Fort McHenry is the 137th Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan. This National Park Service series uses the National Register of Historic Places to enrich traditional classroom instruction of history, social studies, civics, and other subjects. The lessons are indexed by states, historic themes, time periods, learning skills, and history and social studies standards to help teachers use them effectively.


Last updated: February 26, 2015

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