Kindergarten - Visual Arts - Lesson 17 - Symbols and Signs


Review Statue of Liberty.

Identify Statue of Liberty as symbol of U.S. liberty (or freedom).

Create a class booklet of signs and symbols.

Review color, shape, line for making signs and symbols.


Photograph(s) of Statue of Liberty from magazines and/or books

9 x 12" drawing paper, one for each child

Crayons, markers, stapler or yarn and punch for "binding" booklet

American flag, commemorative stamps, dollar bill

Note to Teacher

The Core Knowledge Sequence for May recommends the sculptures, The Statue of Liberty and Mt. Rushmore, which the children studied in February (see Art Lesson 11 and Lesson 12). In addition, the children were introduced during that month to the idea of Mt. Rushmore and the White House as American symbols in History/Geography Lesson 19 and Lesson 20. Therefore, we will use this May lesson to review and build upon the idea of symbols, which the children will study in more depth next year in the context of First Grade World Religions. Eventually, it is hoped that the students will discover subtle differences between sign and symbol; at this point, they will probably seem identical.

If you do not have pictures of the Statue of Liberty in the classroom by this time, borrow from the library the Maestro's The Story of the Statue of Liberty and/or Lucille Penner's The Statue of Liberty, suggested in Visual Arts Lesson 11.

Suggested Resource

Copycat, May/June, 1997, "Salute to America's symobls," pages 28-33.

Not only is this an excellent article to supplement the the lesson, it also has large, reproducible illustrations of important American symbols suitable for coloring and discussion.

Suggested Book

Rinkoff, Barbara. Red Light Says Stop! New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co., 1974.

Judith Corwin's engaging illustrations are as important as the text in this read-aloud book that is an excellent reinforcement for examples of body language and signs without words that are important in the everyday lives of students.


Show the children a picture of the Statue of Liberty and ask someone to identify it for the class. Ask: What kind of art is the Statue of Liberty? Is it a painting? (no, sculpture) Is this sculpture in the round or relief sculpture? (sculpture in the round) How can you tell? (We can go all around it and view it from front, back, and sides.)

Briefly review with the children the information they received in both History/Geography and Visual Arts lessons for February (see Note for Teacher above) including size, material, tools, and something of the story about how, when, and by whom it was presented to the United States.

Say to the children: When we studied the Statue of Liberty in the History/Geography BCP DRAFT ART 56

Kindergarten - Visual Arts - Lesson 17 - Symbols and Signs

lessons, we called it a national symbol. Do any of you remember those two words? Can you tell us what they mean? Let's take them one at a time. The first word is national. What does national mean? (refers to our nation, our country) What is the name of our nation or country? (United States of America) What about symbol? What does that mean? (something we can look at that stands for some ideas, thoughts, or beliefs) Now, let's put those two words together. What were they? (national symbol)

Who can think of some other national symbols? (American flag--show them stars and stripes and review what they symbolize individually and collectively; eagle found on dollar bills and Great Seal of U.S.; the Liberty Bell found on commemorative stamps--show examples of each)

Ask: In what way do you think the Statue of Liberty is a good national symbol? What about where it is located? Does anyone remember where the Statue of Liberty is placed? (New York harbor, where people coming to the United States by boat see it as they enter the country) That means that symbols are always placed where people will be sure to see them.

Ask: Do you remember what the word liberty means? (freedom, not slavery, can't tell people what religion they should be, accept any thoughtful answers) Do you remember the names of some people who came to settle in this country long ago from Europe because they wanted to be free to practice their own religion? (Pilgrims, Puritans)

Ask: What about the size of the Statue of Liberty? Why do you think that makes it a good national symbol? (strong, proud, important, big enough so everyone can see it, even from a distance) What about the torch? Can you think of any reasons why the torch is a good part of the national symbol? What does the torch make us think of? (light, bright, fire, strength)

Next, ask: Who can think of another word that names sosmething that gives us important information quickly, sometimes without even using words? It starts with the ssssss sound but it isn't symbol (sign, signs--if no one guesses, lead them to sss-eye sound until they think of it). Make the sign for being quiet by holding your finger in front of your lips and ask: What does this sign mean? (quiet)

Say: Now, let's think of some signs we use for our safety. As you tell me the sign and what it stands for, I'll draw the sign on the board. (The signs can be the stop sign, one way sign, thumbs up, thumbs down, danger, poison, winding road, deer crossing, any signs the children can think of.) Brainstorm with the children about the kinds of lines used to convey the particular information, significant shapes, and the colors such as red, yellow, and green plus black and white that are commonly used in signs.

Pass out paper and crayons and tell the children to draw a picture of any sign or symbol. It could be one of the ones you've spoken about in class or one they have thought of themselves that they think has a clear and important meaning. Say: Think carefully about what kinds of lines, shapes, and colors will best illustrate your sign or symbol.

When everyone has finished, have each child stand and show his or her drawing to the rest of the class and let them identify the sign or symbol. Tell the children you will put them together in a book to keep in the classroom that you will title Signs and Symbols for our Kindergarten.


Kindergarten - Visual Arts - Lesson 18 - Sculpture


Identify Renaissance Walking Horse as sculpture.

Relate to other sculpture studied this year.

Make a sculpture of an animal from clay.


Slide of Triumph of Bacchus (#13 in sleeve)

Slide of St. Elzear Healing Lepers (#14 in sleeve)

Slide of Calder's Three Big Dots (#15 in sleeve)

Slide of Walking Horse from Italian Renaissance

Modeling clay

Feathers, toothpicks, pipe cleaners, short pieces of yarn or string

Suggested Book

MacClintock, Dorcas. Animals Observed: A Look At Animals in Art. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1993.

A wonderful book for showing to the whole class. Not for reading the text aloud, but all of the illustrations are outstanding. There are photographs of painters and sculptors observing animals while creating their artwork, reproductions of paintings and sculptures--all of animals from widely different historical periods and cultures. The text, which is all about the particular artists whose works are illustrated here, could provide good reference for the teacher.


Ask the students: Who can tell me what famous sculptures we looked at in our last lesson that are also national symbols? (Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore) What about other sculptures we've looked at? Can someone tell me what they were? (They probably will not remember the names, but may be able to identify and/or describe the sculpture of slides #13, 14, and 15. As soon as someone has described one in a recognizable way, show the corresponding slide to the children.) Review with the students the differences between relief sculpture and sculpture in the round as illustrated by the slides you have. Also ask as you show #15: What special name do we give to Calder's sculpture? (mobile) What special problem did we have to solve when we made our class mobile? (balance)

Say: Today we are going to look at an animal sculpture done by an artist nearly 500 years ago. Show the slide of the Walking Horse from the Italian Renaissance. Ask: What is the subject of this sculpture? (horse) Is the horse standing still? (no; walking) How can you tell he is walking? (front leg is lifted; whole body seems to be in motion) How do you think the sculptor was able to create this sculpture of a walking horse in his studio? (Let them make up scenarios. You might need to remind them that 500 years ago artists didn't have cameras or videos the way we do now.) Say: Actually, many artists from the earliest times have made paintings and sculptures of animals. Usually, the artist would spend a lot of time observing an animal before he or she began the artwork. Where do you think an artist might go to observe animals? (zoo, the forest, farms)



Kindergarten - Visual Arts - Lesson 18 - Sculpture

If you have access to the suggested book above, this would be a good time to show some of the pictures to the children. Otherwise, you might want to use any book with good illustrations of a few different kinds of domestic or wild animals. You might want to talk about the special problems for the artist who wants to paint or sculpt wild animals, and how an artist might solve that problem.

Tell the students to look carefully again at the slide and ask what material they think the sculptor used? If no one knows, tell them the horse is made of bronze by a very complicated process that sculptors learn. Usually, they begin a bronze sculpture by making it first in plaster or some other material that is easy to mold. When that is finished and the artist is satisfied with the way it looks, a special mold is made from the sculpture which is eventually filled with molten bronze that will cool and become very hard strong. Ask the students to think about what kind of animal they would like to make.


Help the children to decide which animals they will make out of clay. Some of the children may want to browse in classroom books or encyclopedias to get some ideas and have a chance to observe pictures of animals. Then allow each child to take the amount of clay he or she thinks will be necessary for sculpting the animal. Give them some hints about using round balls of clay for heads and bodies of animals such as rabbits, cats, elephants, etc. You could show the slide once more so they can observe how rounded and curved all the lines are in a living animal.

Put out the materials such as feathers, pieces of string, toothpicks, pipe cleaners or any other pieces of material that they could use to decorate their sculpture or make it look more like an animal with whiskers, horns, tail, etc.

Find a place to display the completed animals in the classroom, and encourage each child to say a few sentences for the rest of the class about the sculpture he or she has created.


Kindergarten - Art/Craft - May - Fiesta Headdresses


Review the location of the Andes Mountains.

Discover a tradition of Ecuador.

Participate in a craft activity.


A classroom size world map

Brown paper grocery bags (one per student)



Crayons or markers


Feathers, buttons, fabric scraps, sequins, glitter, etc.


Review History/Geography Lesson 36. Point to the Andes Mountains. Ask children to name the mountain range and recall the types of animals found in this region. Point to Ecuador on the map. Say: The name of this country is Ecuador. The Andes Mountains run through the center of this country. In the mountainous areas of Ecuador people hold a winter fiesta every year with special costumes and dances in preparation for the farming season. The men dance in the streets to drummed rhythms and melodies from flutes called panpipes. They wear round painted hats called bowlers. A fiesta headdress sits on top of the hats, covering the curved top part and resting on the brim. They are decorated with buttons, charms, feathers and ribbons.

Assist the children in creating Fiesta Headdresses.

1. Cut two inverted U shapes out of the brown paper bags for each student. These form the front and back of the headdress. Make sure that both pieces are wide enough so that when the edges are stapled together they will fit over your students' heads.

2. Direct the children to draw designs on the paper with crayons or markers. Encourage them to experiment with different types of lines: straight, squiggly, zigzags, dotted, thick, thin, etc.

3. Assist the children in decorating the headdress by gluing on feathers, buttons, fabric scraps, sequins, glitter, etc. Let dry.

4. Staple the two shapes together along the edges.


See Art/Craft Lesson Carnival Masks as another extension of the lessons on South America.


Kindergarten - Art/Craft - May - Carnival Masks


Review the location of the Amazon River and Brazil.

Review the celebration of Carnival.

Participate in a craft activity.


A classroom size world map

Mask patterns for tracing (attached)

A 4" x 12" strip of construction paper (any color) one per student

Two 12" pieces of ribbon, yarn, or string

Glitter, sequins, feathers, beads, etc.

Glue, scissors

Paper punch

Samba music (optional)


Review History/Geography Lesson 37. Point to the Amazon River. Ask children to name the river and recall types of animals found in this region. Point to Brazil. Say: This is the largest country in South America. Do you remember its name? Review that the Amazon River passes through Brazil. Recall that some people live in the rain forest region of Brazil.

Review the celebration of Carnival--for four days and five nights people fill the streets in fancy costumes and masks. They eat and drink and dance to samba music.

Say: Today we are going to make Carnival masks.

Assist the children in creating the masks.

1. Distribute the strip of construction paper to each student.

2. Instruct the children to fold the strip in half.

3. Distribute the mask patterns.

4. Demonstrate how to trace the pattern on the fold. Assist children in tracing the pattern on their strip.

5. Direct the children to cut out the mask shape.

6. The teacher should cut out the eye shape out of the middle of the mask.

7. Allow the children to decorate the mask with glitter, sequins, feathers, beads, etc.

8. Punch holes on the sides of the mask to attach the ribbon or string for wearing.

Hold a Carnival parade. Locate some samba music from the school or public library. Wear your masks and stand in a line with your hands on the shoulders of the person in front of you. As the music plays, dance forward in a long, snaking line. You may wish to wear your fiesta headdress from the previous Art/Craft Lesson, too.


Kindergarten - Art/Craft - May - Carnival Masks

Mask Pattern