The lesson plan features a frieze of pioneers crossing the plains as well as relief artwork of bison that were part of the landscape. Students will learn about primary source documents then use memoirs to inform their understanding of the “Spirit of the Pioneers” relief panel. They will be encouraged to note if the images and inscriptions on our capitol truly carve ideas that we can understand.
1 hour; 45 minutes
The student will be able to:
- Read and use primary source documents to inform their understanding of the “Spirit of the Pioneers”.
- Take a deeper look and discuss symbolism in artwork.
- Think critically about the way images and text support one another.
- Identify a frieze from other forms of art such as mosaic, mural, sculpture.
Prep for Teachers
Read through the "What You Need" section on page 3 of the Lesson Plan. Familiarize yourself with the Guides for the teaching poster; the Nebraska Virtual Capitol website and image gallery for the Spirit of Pioneer’s relief sculpture. Depending on the class time allowed organize the web content with the teaching poster and print or bookmark documents and links. You may want to show segments of Nebraska's Capitol Masterpiece that highlight and detail the collaborators biographies.
2 - Teaching and Learning Guides (PDF)
1 - Teaching Poster (PDF or poster sized printout)
4 - Activites: Discussion and Art
How does the artwork and inscriptions on the capitol building reflect our
story and the selected primary source documents?
SESSION 1: Carving Ideas in Stone (Poster) - 20 minutes
Students explore the poster and discover majestic bison with inscriptions taken from a Navaho hymn and Sioux lore.
1.1 Poster: Read about the bison and the inscriptions on the poster. Do the words support the art? Why or why not?
SESSION 2: Close Reading with Historical Thinking - 25 minutes
Students learn about primary sources and then use historical thinking with the teacher to discover some differences in journals, diaries, and memoirs (or reminiscences).
Guide: Primary Sources
Read: Shimmer and Conwell, “James Shimer’s Trip to California in ’49,” 1915, a memoir
Read: Jacob Allender, “Adventures and Experiences of a Forty-Niner” and Jacob Allender, “Gold Rush”
SESSION 3: “Spirit of the Pioneers” Relief Panel - 40 minutes
Students take a deeper look at the symbolism in “Spirit of the Pioneers” relief panel or frieze.
Link: View the North Facade and the “Spirit of the Pioneers” in the Virtual Capitol Tour http://nebraskavirtualcapitol.org/panos/5
Poster: Examine the front of the Poster and read about the symbolism in the frieze. In what ways does the symbolism in the work match what you have learned about Nebraska history?
Read + DQ: Read about the artist Lawrie in Lincoln and the discussion about Buffalo Bill. Then discuss questions provided. Does it matter if the man on the horse is Buffalo Bill? Why or why not? Discuss the inscription (words) below the frieze: “The Salvation of the State is Watchfulness of the Citizens.” Does this align with the image? Was it meant to?
SHOW WHAT YOU KNOW
Our state capitol has many ideas carved on its façade. There are both words and images. Many of the words and images go together or support each other to “Carve and Idea” that endures for our citizens to continue to see for years. Students will work to find words to go with a work of art from our capitol. You can write a poem or lyrics to a song or research to find a quote that seems appropriate.
4.1 Worksheet: Find a piece of art at the capitol that you will illustrate with words. You could write an original song, verse, or poem. Or you can research a quote and add an inscription that will make a lasting impression. Create and share.