Objective: Students will identify South Dakota waterbodies based on geographic
location and then design a water flag.
Materials: South Dakota state map 1:500,000 scale, construction paper, art materials
(markers, scissors, etc.)
Background: Somewhere in the mists of prehistory, humankind first selected a special
symbol by which a person or tribe could be distinguished from others. These images,
which anthropologists call totems, became the tribal symbols which over time
developed into the emblems distinctive of nations. Eventually these took the form of the
insignia from which we derive our flags.
The earliest national symbols were ordinary images or badges wrought in metal, stone
or wood, and carried to the top of a pole or spear. Thus, Egypt marched to war beneath
the sacred emblems of their gods or the fan of feathers of the pharaohs, while the
Assyrian insignia was a circular disk bearing a running bull or two bulls tail to tail. Both of
these also had a small streamer attached to the staff immediately below the device.
These were probably the first flags.
There are 66 counties in South Dakota. Each county has some type of waterbody in it.
Assign each student a county.
Allow each student to study the South Dakota state map. He/she will need to locate
his/her assigned county on the map and then determine what the waterbodies are in that
Have each student draw the shape of their county on a large piece of construction
paper. Referring to the state map, have him/her add each water body in his/her county.
Have each student carefully label the waterbodies in his/her county.
Encourage students to color/paint their county. After he/she has completed whatever
artwork he/she adds to their drawing, have him/her carefully cut around the edges of the
county. This will be his/her flag.
Display flags around the classroom.
As an additional activity, encourage each student to go on-line and find out any history
about their county that is available. As a class project, have each student present his/her
flag and do an oral presentation about the interesting history of their flag.
Using the state map, list the counties in South Dakota in alphabetical order. Divide class
into small groups of 3-5 students. Have each group compose a song using all the
county names in the lyrics. Hold a performance for the 3rd grade students in your
Divide the class into 4 groups. Using the state map, assign each group a section of
South Dakota, dividing the state into quarters. Have each group identify the largest or
longest river or creek in their assigned area. Next have the group determine all the
tributaries to their identified waterbody. Hold a discussion with each group about the
possible history of their choice: why specific tributaries feed their river/creek; what would
happen if someone put a dam on their river/creek; due to location, who uses the water,
Social Studies, Visual Arts
SD Standards for 4th grade:
Observation, Interpreting Information,
Prior Preparation: Read to your
class, "South Dakota" part of the One
Nation series by Patricia K. Kummer.