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My Motto

Decide on your own personal words to live by after studying slogans and mottoes used by modern and historic leaders.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 30 Minutes or Less
  • Directions

    1. U.S. President Harry S. Truman went from being a store clerk to president during a trying time in American history. Invite student groups to find out about President Truman and how the course of U.S. history changed during the Truman presidency. Provide a variety of text and electronic resources for students to view during this investigation.
    2. A motto on Truman's White House desk reminded him of what was important and showed others what motivated his decisions. His motto was "The Buck Stops Here." (On the other side, the sign said, "I'm from Missouri.") What do you think that motto meant for him and his administration? Research this and other famous mottoes such as "liberté, égalité, fraternité." What other convictions guide leaders' decisions?
    3. Ask students what ideas drive their actions and behaviors. What qualities are important to your family? What are your religious beliefs? How do you make important decisions? Invite students to continue this discussion with friends or family. Students will sum up their own life motto in a one-line slogan similar to these famous mottoes.
    4. To make a motto sign for their desks, students fold a rectangular piece of heavy paper such as oak tag in half, and then in half again. Ask children to use Crayola® Colored Pencils or Color Sticks to write their motto in large, fancy letters on both sides of the middle sections. Decorate the words with symbols.
    5. Students fold the two end sections underneath to form a standing triangle. Seal with a Crayola Washable Glue Stick.
    6. Mottoes are now ready to be displayed. Ask students to present their selected mottoes to classmates and provide some insight as to why they chose those particular mottoes.
  • Standards

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Give examples of and explain group and institutional influences such as religious beliefs, laws, and peer pressure, on people, events, and elements of culture.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible teacher resources include: 1001 Smartest Things Ever Said by Steven D. Price; INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES ULTIMATE COLLECTION: 3000+ Motivational Quotations by Darryl Marks

    Encourage students to interview parents, grandparents, and other adults, to become familiar with quotes that are in their everyday life. Also have students look around their everyday surroundings for quotes. For example, U. S. coins have the quote, "In God We Trust." Discuss what the sayings mean. Have they always meant the same thing? What is the purpose of keeping quotes in our lives?

    Students work in teams of two or small groups to design a motivational quote for the team. Write the meaning behind the quote. Post team quotes in the classroom. Have classmates debate the meaning of each motivational quote.

    As a class, vote on a motivational quote that will represent the group for the school year. Think about what message you want to send about yourself and your classmates. Does the quote accomplish that?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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