Signal flags are used at sea for communication between ships. They can spell out short messages, and individual flags and combinations of flags also have special meanings.

Signal flags are also used to 'dress' ships during celebrations, as seen below on Cutty Sark.

Signal flags aboard the Cutty Sark

You will need:

Paper or fabric

Colouring pencils, felt tips or paints – red, blue, yellow, black, white

Glue or tape

Straws (to wave flags) or string (to hang flags on)

A pair of scissors

Signal flag key

Look at the signal flag descriptions on the left.

Each flag represents a different letter.


Signal flag challenge - spell ship, captain, tea and sheep

Can you spell these works with signal flags?

Signal flags drawn on paper

Now it’s your turn to create your own signal flag messages.

You can make them big or small. 

You can draw and colour the flags, like in the picture at the top.

Or you can make your flags out of fabric.

hand drawn signal flag message on a string

Send messages to your friends and family!

Can they work out what the messages says? They can use the signal flag descriptions to help them work it out.

What do these flags say? (Answer below)


Did you manage to work out the message in our flags above?

Answer: Thank you NHS

Make your own signal flag message and send it to us via social media!