- Learn about the significance of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Demonstrate knowledge about a specific American symbol
- Various photos of American symbols
- Computer with printer access
- The Wall by Eve Bunting
- Black construction paper
- Chalk or white crayons or colored pencils
- One Nation by Devin Scillian
- Several books about various American symbols
- Poster board, one sheet per small group of students
- Markers, colored pencils, or other art materials
- Optional: Computers for student use
- Research and print out facts about various American symbols.
- Use the web or print materials 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 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.
- Optional: If your students need guidance conducting research, you may want to make a fact sheet for students to fill out as they research.
Step 1: As a class, brainstorm the definition of a symbol.
Step 2: Brainstorm examples of different American symbols.
Step 3: Show the class pictures (from your web search) of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. Lead a discussion about the significance of the Wall.
Step 4: Read The Wall by Eve Bunting aloud to the class.
Note: I always invite a police officer or firefighter to read the story. I explain that the readers themselves are symbols of heroism.
Step 5: After the reading, construct a "wall" out of black construction paper. Have students sign the names of their own deceased family members on the wall as a symbol of honoring their memory.
Step 1: Read the book One Nation by Devin Scillian aloud to the class.
Step 2: Ask students for examples of a symbol they noticed in the story.
Step 3: Show the class more pictures of various American symbols.
Step 4: Divide students into 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 Ben's Guide website to complete their research.
Note: You may want to review students' research before moving on to the next step to ensure accuracy.
Step 5: Distribute a sheet of poster board to each small group. Instruct students to record information about their American symbol on the poster and illustrate. If you have access to printers, print a picture of each group's symbol.
Step 6: Have each student group present their poster to the class.
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.
- Have students use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast two symbols.
- Have students research the causes and effects of the Vietnam War.
Have students interview their parents and family members about personal experiences relating to symbols. You could also ask students to discuss with their families how to honor deceased family members.
Student groups complete a poster and present the information 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 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?
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).