NCSS.D2.Civ.2.3-5. Explain how a democracy relies on people’s responsible participation, and draw implications for how individuals should participate.
NCSS.D2.Civ.8.3-5. Identify core civic virtues and democratic principles that guide government, society, and communities.
NCSS.D2.His.2.3-5. Compare life in specific historical time periods to life today.
NCSS.D2.His.14.3-5. Explain probable causes and effects of events and developments.
NCSS.D2.His.16.3-5. Use evidence to develop a claim about the past.
Activity 1. Isn't It Symbolic?
As a class, review what a symbol is and identify examples of symbols in the classroom. Explain to students that a symbol brings to mind an idea. Over the years, a symbol tends to take on a meaning related to its history, function or appearance. For example, Bartholdi, the designer of the Statue of Liberty, knew that for most people chains represent tyranny; likewise, a broken chain symbolizes freedom. These associations were built in to the Statue during its creation.
Ideas can also be gradually transferred to an object over time. In this way, an object can take on new, sometimes unintended meanings. As millions of immigrants found themselves welcomed to America by the Statue of Liberty, it became associated with their struggle for freedom and desire for a better life. In 1989, Chinese students demonstrating in Tiananmen Square made a model of the Statue of Liberty to symbolize their revolution. When you see the Statue of Liberty, you may simply see one of the largest statues ever built, or you may associate it with universal qualities of freedom or democracy, or you may have personal feelings about it based on your own experiences.
If possible, give students the opportunity to explore a lesson on symbols, available on the EDSITEment-reviewed website The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Explore and Learn. If access to technology is limited, adapt the lesson for direct instruction by downloading and duplicating the image of one or both statues; then use the museum activity as a guide to your discussion.
Larger images of the statues referenced in this lesson are also available here:
Activity 2. A Mighty Woman with a Torch
Have students brainstorm what they already know about the Statue of Liberty. Write all ideas on the chalkboard or a large piece of paper. With the brainstormed ideas displayed, encourage further discussion with these questions:
Kid-friendly background information on the Statue of Liberty is available on America's Library, via a link from the EDSITEment resource American Memory, and on Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids and The National Park Service, two links from the EDSITEment resource Internet Public Library.
Activity 3. Built-In Symbols
The class is now ready to take a detailed look at the Statue, beginning with its symbol-packed design. Divide the class into five groups. Have each group look closely at one of the following images of the statue from the EDSITEment resource American Memory and record the details each group member observes:
Have each group share its photo and observations. What details about the Statue did the students note that were not mentioned during the brainstorming session in Activity 2? The tablet, axe, broken chains, seven rays in the crown, 25 windows? Hypothesize about their meaning.
Activity 4. Using the Symbol
Now your students will look at some examples of how the Statue of Liberty has been used for its symbolism. As a class, analyze one or all of the archival materials listed below. (Note: The first item, Emma Lazarus's famous poem, "The New Colossus," contains difficult language that will probably require teacher direction; the remaining items are digital images of photographs, posters and song sheets.) As students review the items, they should ask:
The New Colossus—Written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 as a fundraiser for the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund, the poem is inscribed on a bronze plaque that was placed on the interior wall of the pedestal in 1903. Concentrate on elements of the statue the class has discussed that are mentioned in the poem (e.g., torch, size, location in the harbor). What does the poet emphasize about the statue? Why do students think this poem was inscribed on the pedestal of the statue?
Liberty 1916—Both the cover sheet and the lyrics are of interest. What does the songwriter say liberty is? In 1916, there was a war going on in Europe. Do you think the songwriter would have been in favor of having the U.S. enter the war?
When you come back: and you will come back, there's the whole world waiting for you; March song 1918—Of special interest is the cover sheet with songwriter George M. Cohan's picture flanked by images of the Statue of Liberty and the Capitol. Why did Cohan, a very famous entertainer of his day, place his picture on the cover between the two symbols? Why did he choose the Statue of Liberty for the cover of this song written for soldiers going off to fight in World War I?
Freedom of expression, of religion, from want, from fear everywhere in the world (1941)—Available on the EDSITEment resource American Memory. Is the Statue of Liberty in the poster? The freedoms mentioned come from a famous speech delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. According to the poster, how will people everywhere in the world achieve these freedoms?
Liberty for all: Keep 'em flying (circa 1942)—Available on the EDSITEment resource American Memory. Why did the artist choose to juxtapose the Statue of Liberty and an aircraft carrier? What is the message? What do you think was going on in our country at that time?
"Human Statue of Liberty. 18,000 Officers and Men at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa. Colonel William Newman, Commanding. Colonel Rush S. Wells, Directing.Mole & Thomas. (NWDNS-165-WW-521B(1)) 09/1918."—Locate the image by searching for the terms "Human" and "Statue" in Image Search on the EDSITEment resource The Digital Classroom. This 1918 photo depicts a "human statue of liberty" composed of 18,000 officers and men at Camp Dodge in Des Moines, Iowa. This is an interesting picture, but why was this chosen as an activity for troops training for World War I?
"The announcing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, was the occasion for a monster celebration in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thousands massed on all sides of a replica of the Statue of Liberty on Broad Street, and cheered unceasingly. Philadelphia Public Ledger."—Locate the image by searching for the terms "replica" and "Statue of Liberty" in Image Search on the EDSITEment resource The Digital Classroom. Why celebrate the end of World War I with this Statue?
"Liberty Enlightening the World (circa 1920)"—Locate the image by searching for the exact phrase "Liberty Enlightening the World" in Image Search on the EDSITEment resource The Digital Classroom. From what vantage point does the photograph appear to have been taken? Why did the photographer frame the photo with the window? Who else got to see the Statue of Liberty this way? What is the message of the photo?
Locate the following photos in the Image Search on the EDSITEment resource The Digital Classroom by searching for the exact titles:
What message does each photograph send? How does the image of the Statue of Liberty in each picture help the photographer get across that message?
Activity 5. Choose a Symbol, Any Symbol
In this lesson, students will work in small groups to research another familiar symbol of the U.S. Their goal is to understand the history of the symbol and to gain an appreciation for its significance. Have each group choose a symbol (some examples are listed below) and locate information about it online or in the library. To get started, students can peruse the following resources available through EDSITEment. All are general in nature and searchable, except for The Internet Public Library, which is organized as a directory.
Here are some sources of information on specific symbols—most designed for young people—available through EDSITEment:
Empire State Building
Activity 6. Create a Symbol
Continuing to work in small groups, students will now create a poster that conveys a message using the national symbol they researched in Activity 5. Each group will share its poster, clarifying its message and the reason behind the choice of symbol and design. In preparing to create their posters, the students should become familiar with some of the design principles illustrated by the following posters:
Point out such design features as:
Using a rubric designed with your students' skill level, class curriculum, and specific goals for this assignment in mind will help your students understand what is expected of them and how they will be evaluated. The following is a sample rubric you may wish to use when designing your own. This rubric is designed to demonstrate the kinds of standards by which one teacher might evaluate posters and presentations; it is not intended to set a universal standard for what makes a good poster. Review your particular standards in class before students begin working on their posters.
NOTE: Exemplary posters will include all of the positive qualities of very good and satisfactory posters.
Using a rubric designed with your students' skill level, class curriculum, and specific goals for this assignment in mind will help your students understand what is expected of them and how they will be evaluated.
Activity 7. The United States Symbol
As a culminating activity, assess students' understanding of symbols and their use in depicting Americans' shared values, principles and beliefs with a brief writing assignment. Ask students to list some American symbols and what they represent. Then, have students select a symbol that they believe to be the symbol of the U.S. and explain their choice.
As a follow-up to this lesson, ask students to make note of any movies, books, magazines, documentaries, etc., they see that include some reference to the Statue of Liberty (or any other symbol discussed in the lesson). Have them explain to the class the feelings the reference intended to conjure.
Recommended readings from American Memory
Recommended reading from Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site, a link from Internet Public Library
How does the Statue of Liberty symbolize freedom?
Her appearance designed after the Roman Goddess Libertas symbolized freedom from tyranny, while her right foot, tablet, torch, and broken chains also personified the enlightenment that our country has in providing a path towards liberty and abolishing slavery.
What do the parts of the Statue of Liberty symbolize?
The seven-pointed crown on her head symbolizes the seven continents and seven seas, and the broken shackles at her feet represent freedom from oppression.
What are 2 facts about the Statue of Liberty?
Statue of Liberty facts.
The statue's full name is Liberty Enlightening the World..
It was a gift from France, given to America in 1886..
The head of the statue was displayed at the World's Fair in Paris in 1878..
The robed female figure represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom..
Why are there 2 Statues of Liberty?
There are two genuine statues and several lesser versions of the Statue of Liberty. The original and most famous is the one located on Liberty Island, a gift from the French to America. The second is located in Paris, France, and was a reciprocal gift from the United States in 1889.