Lesson Plan

“The Rockets’ Red Glare”: Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (Teaching with Historic Places)

Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes

Essential Question

Learn about Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.


To see the full lesson plan, visit: https://www.nps.gov/articles/-the-rockets-red-glare-francis-scott-key-and-the-bombardment-of-fort-mchenry-teaching-with-historic-places.htm


Objectives for students

1) to describe the events of September 12-14, 1814, as related by the commander of Fort McHenry,
2) to describe the fort in relation to the British bombardment,
3) to explain how “The Star-Spangled Banner” came to be written and to analyze the meaning of its text,
4) to identify ways in which the American victory and “The Star-Spangled Banner” contributed and continue to contribute to Americans’ pride in and identification with their nation, and
5) to identify and investigate places that are important to the local community’s identity and civic pride.



Materials for students

The materials listed below can be used directly on the computer or printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a small version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) One map showing Baltimore Harbor and Fort McHenry,
2) Two documents: the official report on the bombardment and the original broadside version of the “Defence of Fort McHenry,”
3) Two readings about the composition of the poem that would become” The Star-Spangled Banner” and the later history of the War of 1812 and the song,
4) Four illustrations: an image of the fort, two representations of the battle, and a World War II poster, and
3) Three photos of the fort and the preserved flag today.

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Last updated: May 19, 2021