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Making Monuments

Focus on historic achievements and positive role models with this collaborative monument making project.

  • Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Discuss monuments, why we make them and the various forms they take. Look at specific examples. What people or events are memorialized? What do memorials say about a society’s values? Do American memorials differ from those of other cultures? How? Why?
    2. Discuss the symbolic nature of memorials. A good example is Maya Lin’s design for the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D. C.
    3. Ask students to brainstorm a list of people or events they might like to memorialize. Discuss their suggestions.
    4. Have students divide into small groups with three to five students in each group. Invite each group to discuss possible subjects for a memorial and choose one to create together.
    5. Once students have selected a subject, allow time for research. Encourage students to think about what was important about the person or era they are researching and what form their memorials might take. How might they incorporate symbolism into their work? What visual images could convey information or ideals associated with their subject choice? Encourage students to discuss ideas with their teammates. Ask them to sketch a design for their memorial and decide on the best artistic medium to use in order to create a three dimensional model of their memorial.
    6. Some students may wish to use a modeling compound such as Crayola® Model Magic; others might cover a recycled box with paint or paper and then glue on symbolic images made with small amounts of Model Magic or paper cutouts that have been made with Crayola® Colored Pencils, Markers, or Watercolors.
    7. Suggest that students decide how the work of making the memorial can be divided among the participants. For example, a memorial to the civil rights movement could be divided into four areas: equality of education, voting rights, the bus boycott, and the March on Washington. Once the artistic medium is agreed upon, individuals could create their art independently. If there are time constraints, this might even be done at home. Once individual participants have completed their work, they can meet again to assemble the monument.
    8. Encourage each student to write a short reflection on this assignment. What did each learn about the subject of the memorial and about the thought process behind monument making? Display these reflections along with the monuments.
  • Standards

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions for further research and investigation.

    SS: Identify key ideals of the United States’ democratic republican form of government, such as individual human dignity, liberty, justice, equality, and the rule of law, and discuss their application in specific situations.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    VA: Students experience, analyze and interpret art and other aspects of the visual world.

    VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.

  • Adaptations

    Use this as a culminating end of year project for a social studies class. Review important people and events covered during the course and ask students to choose things studied in this particular course as the subjects for their memorials. This will reduce the time needed for research and will encourage reflection on the course as a whole.

    Use this as an assessment project at the end of a social studies unit such as one on civil rights. Ask each group to focus on one specific person or event covered within the unit. Once the memorials are finished, display them in the classroom and ask each group to give an oral presentation on the subject of the memorial and the process of creating it.

    Coordinate this activity with a specific holiday such as Black History Month or National Women’s History Month. Display the memorials in the school library or in a public building such as a post office showcase or store window.


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