Designing A Monument to Honor Past Presidents
Arts & Humanities
Language Arts, Visual Arts
Civics, U.S. History, World History
Students select a president, read about his life and accomplishments as a leader, and then design a monument in his honor.
investigate the accomplishments of presidents.
design monuments to presidents.
create small-scale prototypes of their monuments.
explain the significance of the design to the president and his life.
diorama, election, memorial, monument, president, presidency, Rushmore, sculpture, statue
paper and pencils
other art media as desired
Internet access and printer (optional)
Internet access is not essential. Web resources can be printed for student use, or library resources can often be substituted for resources noted in the activity.
In the early grades, this lesson can be performed as a teacher-directed group activity in which the teacher reads the information to the students and they work together to complete one monument. Use the democratic tool of voting to settle design and implementation issues!
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
the name of the president
the president's numerical rank (first president)
the number of years in office
the title of the monument
where the monument should be built and why
an explanation of how the monument reflects the president's life and/or work.
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
GRADES K - 4
NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.K-4.2 Using Knowledge of Structures and Functions
NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.K-4.4 Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.5-8.2 Using Knowledge of Structures and Functions
NA-VA.5-8.3 Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.5-8.4 Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 9 - 12
NA-VA.9-12.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
NA-VA.9-12.2 Using Knowledge of Structures and Functions
NA-VA.9-12.3 Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.9-12.4 Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures
NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
LANGUAGE ARTS: English
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Civics
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES K - 4
NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.3 Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
NSS-USH.5-12.4 Era 4: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
NSS-USH.5-12.5 Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
NSS-USH.5-12.6 Era 6: The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)
NSS-USH.5-12.7 Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
NSS-USH.5-12.8 Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
NSS-USH.5-12.10 Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the Present)
SOCIAL SCIENCES: World History
GRADES K - 12
NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools
See more lessons at Presidents' Day Activities!
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Links last updated 02/12/2012