A Salute to American Symbols
A two-day lesson in common U.S. symbols, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Grades: 3–5
About this book
Students learn about the significance of various American symbols, such as the U.S. flag, bald eagle, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
- Learn about the significance of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Demonstrate knowledge about a specific American symbol
Know the histories of important local and national landmarks, symbols, and essential documents that create a sense of community among citizens and exemplify cherished ideals (e.g., U.S. flag, bald eagle, Statue of Liberty, U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, U.S. Capitol).
- Various photos of American symbols
- Black construction paper
- The Wall by Eve Bunting
- One Nation by Devin Scillian
- Several books about various American symbols
Set Up and Prepare
- Print out facts about various American symbols.
- Use the Internet to find images of American symbols and monuments to share with the class.
- Optional: Set up computers with the U.S. Government Publishing Office's kid-friendly site Ben's Guide website. Select your students' age range (4-8, 9-13, or 14+). You can also print out copies of the pages about symbols and monuments.
- Brainstorm the definition of a symbol.
- Brainstorm examples of different American symbols.
- Show pictures of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. (from the Internet search). Lead a discussion about the significance of the Wall.
- Read The Wall by Eve Bunting. I always invite a police officer or firefighter to read the story. I explain that the readers themselves are symbols of heroism.
- Construct a wall out of black construction paper. After the reading, have kids sign the names of deceased family members on the wall as a symbol of honoring their memory.
- Read the book, One Nation.
- Ask students for examples of a symbol they noticed in the story.
- Show pictures of various American symbols.
- Divide students in groups of 2 or 3 and have them choose a symbol to research. Students can use the books and printouts you provide or the U.S. Government Publishing Office's kid-friendly site Ben's Guide website to complete their research. Note: You may want to make a fact sheet for students to fill out as they research.
- Students record information on poster.
- Students present the poster to their peers.
Supporting All Learners
Providing visuals, definitions, or terminology to students prior to the introduction of the lesson helps students acquire background knowledge of the concept. If you assign groups, pair up fluent readers with struggling readers.
- Students use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast two symbols.
- Students research causes and effects of the Vietnam war.
Students interview parents and family members about personal experiences relating to symbols. Students discuss how to honor deceased family members.
- Students complete a poster and present to the class.
- Did students understand the significance of the symbols?
- Did you have enough material for students to use for research?
- Was the material too easy or too difficult for students to read?
- Were the students engaged during the lessons?
- Did students complete questions on research template?
- Did each student speak during the presentation to peers?
- Did each student participate by collecting research and recording information?