Project Based Learning/Creating a Coat of Arms-Coldiron


Project Based Learning/Creating a Coat of Arms 5th grade

Project Outline: This project will allow students to conduct research, use team work, problem solve, and use their creativity to learn about their families and develop a family identity. Students will learn about and work with their family to develop a coat of arms. They will identify meanings of different symbols, colors, and animals to create an image to represent their family. They will also be asked to distill that information into a family motto. If they already have a family motto that will have the option to create a new one. A letter will be sent home to parents explaining the assignment and will allow student with a fragile background to obtain from the family history potion of the lesson.  For students whose parents chose for them to be exempt will still create a coat of arms with their family influence.


3PE Investigate the role of cultural objects in our everyday environment.

4PR Select and use the elements and principles of art and design to

communicate understanding of an interdisciplinary concept.

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objects in some cultures

Timing: This project is designed to be worked on throughout the first quarter of the year. Students will work on the project during class time once every two weeks. Parts of the assignment will be worked on at home, such as family history research and family values. Students will learn about symbolism, heraldry, and the meanings of color during art class. They will finish their full-size coat of arms in art class for the last full week of the quarter, presenting their work at the family night at the end of October.

Materials: Poster board, glue, tempera paint, paint brushes, black permanent maker, water cups, smocks, rulers, scissors, colored construction paper, shield templets/examples, print offs of different animals, and symbols, information packet for parents, large scale examples of real coat of arms, internet access, History of Brown County, 1883.

Coat of Arms Outline

Challenging Problem or Question

Who are you?

Where does your family come from?

What questions do you have about your family’s history?

What is a coat of arms, (arms) and why is it important?

Sustained Inquiry

Students are to investigate the history of their family; who where their grandparents, their great grandparents, their family’s country of origin, and to find out what values their family holds above all else. Students will create a list of interview questions, to help answer the questions they have about their own family. They will need to conduct additional research into what their ancestors did, where they lived, and what their family does now.


Students will be asked to only include factual information in the written portion of their project because it will be submitted to the Brown County Historical Society as part of their genealogical records department.  Many of the students living in the district have families that have been in Brown county for over one hundred years. Students will have access to the History of Brown County, Ohio 1883. A book commissioned by the Library of Congress to record the history of Brown County and keep a Genealogical record. In addition, students are encouraged to find family photos that link their family to the region. These photos will be added to the archive for the Brown County Historical Society.

Heraldry Manuscript, Shield of Arms

Queen Elizabeth’s Coat of Arms

Porsche Coat of Arms

Student Voice & Choice

Students will choose colors, animals, and symbols to represent their family in creating a coat of arms. They will need to discover the meanings of each part they chose to include and explain why they have chosen such things in their art journal.  Using the answers from their interview they will develop what values are important to them and their family. They will use this to create the imagery to match those values by drawing mockup of their coat of arms.

What is a Coat of Arms?

starts at 19 seconds to 1 minute 40 seconds


Students will write a list of their known ancestors from their research, including dates of birth and death. Then they will write a short paragraph about their favorite thing they learned during the project. Finishing by discussing why they chose certain colors and symbols for their shield.

Critique & Revision

Students will bring their coat of arms mockup home and discuss what choses they made, why they were made and any suggestions their family may have to help improve their work. After they have finalized their ideas students will begin their final coat of arms and create a full-size shield to represent themselves and their family. Their final project will include a poster with family photos, their life size shield, and a print off of their project reflection.

Public Product

Students will display their projects at the school’s family night/Rocket Pride Night. This will allow students to share the history and values of their family with the community. The written portion of each student’s project will be documented and submitted to the Brown County Historical Society for their genealogical records. In addition, any pictures of historical buildings and community gatherings will be digitized and given to the Brown County Historical Society as well.

Examples of Student Work


Assessment: Students will be evaluated based on their completed full-size Coat of Arms and their journal entry explaining their color and symbol choices. Students will self-assess first filling out a rubric rating themselves 1-4 on creativity, clean up, craftsmanship, and answer three short answer questions. The first being, what did you learn about yourself during this project, the second being, please explain what personal values your Coat of Arms represents, and third, what is a Coat of Arms and what is it’s use? The teacher will complete a rubric rating student’s short answers, written portion of the assignment and rating their use of symbols, colors, creativity, and craftsmanship form their finished piece.

Social Media:

Meanings of colors and symbols in heraldry

Different design examples for the shield of arms

Coming to America, book by Betsy Maestro


Examples of Coat of Arms in Architecture

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