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Welcome Young Defenders' of Fort McHenry!

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We are so glad you have decided to join Friends of Fort McHenry

 for Virtual Young Defenders' Day 2020! 

Young Defenders' Field Day is the largest annual curriculum-based educational program at Fort McHenry. It enables students from Baltimore City Public Schools and other schools to experience Fort McHenry as it was at the time of the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812 as well as introduces students to the National Park System and basic conservation principles so they can help in preserving our public lands. The day provides hands-on learning stations provided by the National Park Service, Living Classrooms Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, city park partners and many more. As the soldiers at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 defended Baltimore, students gain the knowledge and skills to become Defenders of our historic places, wild spaces and historic and cultural landscapes.

With our 2020 event onsite event cancelled due to Covid-19, Friends of Fort McHenry, National Park Service as well as our partners have made the event virtual!

The following activities are most suitable for grades 4-8.

Looking for something for younger folks? Click here

O' Say Can You See...

How could Francis Scott Key know that he would forever shape our thoughts and feelings about our great nation with 5 little words?

As Key stood watching the Battle of Baltimore, he was filled with inspiration and penned what has since become our National Anthem. Fort McHenry's garrison stood firm during the bombardment by British forces and the successful defense of the Fort saved both the City of Baltimore & American morale.


How does listening to the 

Star-Spangled Banner make you feel?

Take a few minutes to close your eyes and listen to 1 or 2 of these iconic renditions of our National Anthem. 

Want to take it a step further?

Now consider which "seeing" and "feeling" words stick out to you when you listen or read the Star-Spangled Banner. Let's try to identify the words that Francis Scott Key used that paint such a vivid picture in our minds.

Remember that for every word in the English language there are many other words with similar meanings. Each word Key used was chosen due to its unique meaning. For example, the word "dawn" is used in the first line of the poem. He could have said morning or daybreak, sun up or first light. How do each of these words have a slightly different meaning and why do you think he chose "dawn"?

Download the pdf worksheet (on right) and list all of the "seeing & hearing" words in the first verse of the Star-Spangled Banner (found below): 

Oh, 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.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


Now, look at John Bower's visual depiction of the Battle of Baltimore (1816)


Do you think poem or song "The Star-Spangled Banner" is more, less or equally as effective in communicating what happened during the Battle of Baltimore? 

Bower, J. "A View of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, by the British Fleet" (1816)

Let's create a 4 line poem from the perspective of young people living in Baltimore on September 13, 1814. Imagine watching the battle from your rooftop.  

Try to use at least 2 "seeing" words and 2 "feeling" words you've previously identified.

Download the pdf worksheet and/ or submit your poem for a chance to be featured on the Friends of Fort McHenry Social Media.

Parents/Teachers: Check out the full lesson plans here for download

Grade 4-8 Activities

Discover more about the War of 1812...

Cutting-edge animated maps to illustrate Maryland’s unique contributions to the defense and heritage of the nation during four significant battles of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: the Battle of St. Leonard Creek, the Battle of Bladensburg, the Battle of North Point and the Battle of Baltimore.

Transport yourself to the Fort... 

Bringing Fort McHenry to the world, the Earthcam is anchored with its sights fixed on Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine. Choose either the Rampart view which models the same sight-line to Fort McHenry that Francis Scott Key had 200 years ago during the Battle of Baltimore or the Fort View, showing the iconic flag poll. 

Resources for Younger Students:

Click on the images to download for coloring!

Young Student Activities
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