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Find out about the
award-winning bestseller Dream

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Activity

DREAM FLAGS

Create your own Dream Flag using a star as a key symbol

Every country in the world has a flag. Flags are used to represent nations as well as states/provinces. Flags are also used to signal or attract attention, like a green flag to start a car race or a white flag to surrender to an enemy.

Flags are usually shaped like a rectangle. They can have different shapes and colors on them, though many tend to make use of the star symbol. A seven-pointed star was chosen as the key symbol on the cover of Dream because in mythology and some religions it represents integration, the unity of mind, body, and spirit. Seven is a lucky number. This star is also used to represent the seven liberal arts of classic antiquity: geometry, astronomy, mathematics, logic, grammar, rhetoric, and music. In engineering, the seven-pointed star represents the supremacy of reason.

Australian Flag

A seven-pointed star is used on the Australian flag, which was first flown in 1901 after a flag design contest that attracted 32,823 entries. Five near-identical entries were awarded equal first prize. The flag has three elements on a blue background: the Union Jack, the Commonwealth Star, and the Southern Cross. The Union Jack in the upper-left corner (or canton) acknowledges the history of British settlement. Below the Union Jack is a white, seven-pointed Commonwealth or Federation star. Its seven points represent the unity of the six states and the territories of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Southern Cross is shown on the right side (or fly) of the flag. This constellation of five stars can be seen only from the southern hemisphere and is a reminder of Australia's geography. In the original flag design, the white Southern Cross Stars were depicted with a differing number of points to signify their brightness, but the design was simplified to four seven-pointed stars and one five-pointed star.

People's Republic of China Flag

Most flags that have a star on them use the five-pointed star, which has mystical, magical, and historical significance. The five-pointed star appears in the flags of 35 countries. For example, the flag of the People's Republic of China is a five-starred red flag designed by economist Zeng Liansong. He submitted the design as part of a competition that received over 3,000 entries. Mao Zedong hoisted the first flag on a pole overlooking Tiananmen Square on the day of its unveiling in October, 1949. The flag's red background symbolizes the blood of heroes who died during the revolution. The yellow color symbolizes the glorious history and culture of the Chinese people. There are five five-pointed stars in the upper-left corner (or canton) of the flag. The largest one represents the Communist Party of China. The four small ones present the four classes of Chinese people – workers, peasants, intellectuals, businesspeople (though some say the stars can also represent the ethnic groups of the country). One point of the big star points straight up; of the four small stars, each has a point pointing towards the center of the big star. This shows that the Chinese Communist Party is the force at the core of the leadership of all Chinese people, and that all Chinese people unite around the party.

American Flag

The American flag also has five-pointed stars. In May of 1776, Betsy Ross reported that she sewed the first American flag, a simpler version of today's flag. Today's flag consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top to bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the upper-left corner (or canton) bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top to bottom) alternating with rows of five stars. The fifty stars on the flag represent the fifty American states and the thirteen stripes represent the original thirteen colonies that rebelled against the British Crown and became the first states in the Union. There is no record explaining why red, white, and blue were chosen. However, in 1782, the Congress of the Confederation chose these same colors for the Great Seal of the United States and listed their meaning as follows: white to mean purity and innocence, red for valor and hardiness, and blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. According to legend, George Washington interpreted the elements of the flag this way: the stars were taken from the sky, the red from the British colors, and the white stripes signified the secession from the home country. The US flag has been changed 26 times since its initial creation with 13 stars, as stars have been added when new states joined the union. A 48-star version went unchanged for 47 years. The current 50-star version became official in 1960 following the admission of Hawaii into the union.

To find out more about the flags of different countries and what they mean, you can visit the Flags of the World website.

Flags are a way to represent what's important to a country, what the country stands for and what makes it distinct, as well as its history and hopes for the future. You can create your own flag representing your personal dreams and goals. Read Dream and then think about some of your dreams, using the My Dream and Different Dreams activities.

To make your Dream Flag, start with a standard sheet of 8½ x 11 inch paper. Think about what your most important dream or goal is. Decide on the images you want to use to symbolize that dream or goal. Include at least one star of some kind somewhere in your flag, since stars are such important symbols of hopes and wishes (e.g. making a wish on a star). Decide on a few colors you want to use and what they'll mean in the context of your Dream Flag. For example, yellow or white could symbolize hope and purity, red for courage, blue for strength, green for growth, etc.

Once you've decided on colors, images, and the star(s) you'll use, start creating your Dream Flag. Orient the sheet of paper lengthwise, to look like a real flag. If a group or class is creating Dream Flags, tape all the flags along a long length of string and fly them proudly!

If you'd like to do more with Dream Flags, check out
The Dream Flag Project. This project connects students to their dreams, and in turn their dreams to the world, through writing poetry and creating art inspired by the poems of Langston Hughes. Students create Dream Flags and hang them in keeping with the tradition of Nepalese Buddhist prayer flags, which are inscribed with important symbols, invocations, prayers, and mantras. Buddhists for centuries have planted these flags outside their homes and places of spiritual practice for the wind to carry the good vibrations across the countryside. Prayer flags are said to bring happiness, long life and prosperity to the flag planter and those in the surrounding area. The Dream Flag Project is an annual poetry/art/community-connection project for students in kindergarten to twelfth grade. It began in 2003 in sixth-grade English classes at The Agnes Irwin School, a K-12 school for girls in suburban Philadelphia. Each year, it runs from February 1, the birthday of Langston Hughes. Culmination activities are in April, National Poetry Month. Dream Flag Lines are completed by the first week in April.

© www.legacyproject.org

Materials

Sheets of paper
Crayons, pencil
  crayons, markers,
  glitter glue
String
Tape

Connections

Schools (art; social
  studies; language
  arts)
Youth groups
Families

Dream

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