This critical challenge, which may serve as a culminating activity for this inquiry, invites students to create a shield using symbols that represent their family's past. Introduce the lesson by explaining that symbols represent an idea, place or person (e.g., the red maple leaf can represent Canada, a dove can represent peace, a mascot can represent a school). Display pictures of shields and explain that they were used initially in warfare to identify different groups and that the symbols tell something about the group. Provide a copy of the Alberta and Canadian and, perhaps, a few other provincial and territorial coats of arms. (See References for information on national symbols and a Google™ search of "Symbols of Canada" offers a number of Websites containing provincial coats of arms and other provincial and territorial emblems and flags.) Encourage students to consult several Websites, looking for different pieces of information on various symbols.
Use the introduction of the national, provincial and territorial coats of arms to help students locate various sites on a map to correspond to the coat of arms. Provide students with copies of the Albertan and Canadian coats of arms. Using an outline map of the world, provide clues (e.g., start at the very bottom corner of the map, go up three squares, go across four squares) so that student may place the Canadian coat of arms on Canada. Using an outline map of Canada, provide similar kinds of clues so that students may locate a particular province or territory and paste the appropriate coat of arms on that location. Invite students to hold up a particular coat of arms and ask you for directions to that location. Provide clues to help students locate their community on the map.
After locating the sites of the coats of arms, discuss the meaning of the symbols on each. Explain that coats of arms can also represent individuals and families. Provide information about your own family background and ask students to suggest what might be on a coat of arms or shield representing you (e.g., a book, something related to one of your hobbies, your initials, something representing the country your ancestors came from). Discuss the criteria to consider: the symbol should celebrate a significant aspect drawn from your past your life. Brainstorm a list of symbols that might be common to all students in the class (e.g., a symbol representing the community or the class). Stress the importance of representing significant features from their past.
Invite student to review what they have learned about their family's past (e.g., significant events traditions, stories). Ask students to list symbols that might be on a shield representing their family, then select several symbols that best celebrate significant aspects from their past. You may want to adapt the strategies and charts in Justifying My Choice (Support Material) to structure and assess each student's shield. Encourage students to make shields with their own designs out of cardboard from boxes. Point out that the shields are symbolic and are not to be used to portray a symbol of a warrior or a battle. Display the shields around the classroom, inviting students to explain how their unique identity and that of their family is represented by these symbols.