Children can learn an appreciation for their family history and societal traditions by designing and creating their own family coat of arms. Using the coat of arms as a school project encourages children to consider their personal values and their importance. The coat of arms project enables children to think critically about how to symbolize their most important values and characteristics in a manner that communicates these to other people.
Review the meanings of each color used on a coat of arms with your class. For example, yellow or gold stands for generosity, white and silver for peace and sincerity, black for constancy, purple for royalty, green for hope and loyalty and blue for truthfulness.
Review the meanings of each animal that can be used on the coat of arms. According to Storyboardtoys.com, heraldic animals were " Bear - Protectiveness; Bee - Industriousness; Dog - Loyalty; Eagle - Leadership & Decisiveness; Dragon - Defender of Treasure; Hawk - Eagerness; Fox - Cleverness; Lion - Courage; Raven - Constancy; Snake - Ambition; Tiger - Fierceness & Valor; Unicorn - Extreme Courage; Wolf - Constant Vigilance."
Encourage your students to consider their values and place them in order of importance. They should choose their top one or two to depict on their coat of arms.
Provide a blank template for the children to use as a starting point. The template will be a blank shield with a blank ribbon below the shield.
Tell the class to choose the colors and the animal that best suit the values they have identified. Do not limit your students to the list. They should be encouraged to modify and produce their own symbols and develop a shield unique to them so they can take pride in their project. Each child should be able to identify why he made the choices.
Review heraldic symbols with the class such as: an axe indicates dutifulness, a crescent signifies enlightenment, crosses indicate Christian sentiments, crowns represent authority, a flaming heart represents passion, a hand tells of faith, sincerity and justice, a star shows nobility, a sun shows glory and a sword stands ready for war.
Tell the students to use these elements to complete their coat of arms template. The children will enter their last names in the ribbon below the shield.
Provide ample time for each member of the class to stand up and present his coat of arms. The student should identify each element in the coat of arms and tell how it relates to the values he identified in himself.
Do not criticize a child's choices for the coat of arms. The goal of the project is to encourage self-critical thinking skills.
This can be a part of a character education class.
A blank shield is available at Scholastic.com.