Photo by The Vintage Collection
Symbolic seals, crests, and coats of arms are a common concept across cultures. From the simplicity of Japanese mon to the regality of English coats of arms all the way to America’s Great Seal, humans around the world create graphical representations of themselves.
And who doesn’t love all the sigils from Game Of Thrones!?
Creating A Lesson
We could apply these ideas to a lesson in which students:
- develop an understanding of symbols
- research college seals
- discuss family crests
- develop symbolic seals for themselves
- create symbols for ideas across subjects
Open With Harry
Let’s start with the crests of the four houses from Harry Potter‘s Hogwarts.
Each crest has at least three symbolic items:
Students can probably explain the significance of Griffindor’s golden lion and Slytherin’s green and purple snake.
Next, we can connect students with future goals by examining some university seals:
These typically contain noteworthy items:
- a motto, possibly in Latin
- a founding date
- visual symbols
Further, seals are typically printed only in approved school colors.
The California State University features:
- a latin slogan Vox Veritas Vita, meaning “Voice, Truth, Life”,
- the founding date of 1857
- a book, the state, and a lamp
You can find tons of college and university seals online. Note that official school websites are quite stingy with the size of their images. Wikipedia is a better bet.
Now students can develop seals to represent themselves.
- They begin by identifying their most essential trait.
- Then they select an object that symbolizes that trait.
- Have them develop a short phrase:
- Create the heraldry on a piece of card stock.
Put these beautiful designs out for viewing:
- They can serve as a great way for students to introduce themselves to the class.
- Or have students try to match their peers with their coat of arms.
- Display them next to student writing.
Apply It To Content
Studying Julius Caesar? Pocahontas? Ebenezer Scrooge? Have students develop symbolic seals to represent these literary and historical figures.
Become even more abstract by asking students to develop symbols for ideas, movements, or groups.
For example, students could create symbols demonstrating their understanding of:
For another student symbolism idea, check out this Symbolism and Pixel Art lesson.