Students select a president, read about his life and accomplishments as a leader, and then design a monument in his honor.
diorama, election, memorial, monument, president, presidency, Rushmore, sculpture, statue
Begin the lesson by asking students to identify local monuments and what they symbolize. Talk about national monuments, and direct the discussion to those that are dedicated to past presidents. Invite students to share any facts they know about these national monuments and speculate about how their builders chose their design.
Have the students visit Ben's Guide: Symbols of U.S. Government and read information about the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Mount Rushmore, and the Washington Monument. At each stop, highlight the purpose of the monument and symbolism of its design.
Do your students believe that the monuments they have viewed are appropriate and adequate memorials to these presidents? What would they change about the monuments or add to them? Explain that they will now create their own designs for monuments to presidents of the United States. These monuments should relate to the lives and accomplishments of the selected presidents. Describe the process students will follow to create the monuments: read about the presidents, select one president to memorialize, design the monument on paper, and build a small model of the monument. With each model, students should attach a page of information that includes
Students may begin their research at the White House Web site's index of The Presidents of the United States. Permit students to print the biographies of their chosen presidents for reference. Next, students may begin their sketches.
If you choose for students to immediately work on building their sample monuments, have available art media of your choice. Construction paper and shoeboxes can be used for dioramas. Clay, papier mache, paint, and other supplies may be included. Students may also complete their monuments as homework.
Instead of having students share their projects as themselves, ask them to pretend that they are the presidents who are being honored. ("My name is President Jimmy Carter. This is a monument in my honor made by ___. It is ___, and it represents my life because")
Have each student show his or her monument to the class and share why it is relevant to the president it symbolizes. The teacher or students might create a rubric to rate students' monuments on established criteria such as creativity, knowledge of the president, and how well the monument reflects the achievements of the president.
Lesson Plan Source
FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
LANGUAGE ARTS: English
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Civics
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
SOCIAL SCIENCES: World History
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