Students learn what the Idaho state seal tells says about the state. Students create a new seal that represents their school or their personal life.
This lesson is part of Great States: Idaho | Unit 8: State Symbols which illustrates how the images associated with the state reflect the geography, American Indian heritage, economy, and history of exploration and settlement that have created present day Idaho.
4.SS.4.2.1: Explain the significance of Idaho symbols and the unique tribal seal of each federally recognized tribe in Idaho.
Boise District 413.02: Explain the significance of Idaho symbols.
- Image: Idaho state seal
- Construction paper
- Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
- Project the image of Idaho’s state seal.
- Explain that a state’s seal is used on government documents and to identify government buildings and officials. Usually the seal of each state was created before the state flag, out of necessity, but because the seal usually contained important historical and cultural information about the state, it was often used as a part of the state’s flag. Most state flags were designed around the state seal or at least incorporated most of its elements.
- Point out that a state seal shows a state’s history and cultural origins. Ask students what they see on the Idaho state seal. Have students discuss the symbols on the state seal of Idaho and how each one relates to the history of Idaho. Some of the elements and their meanings are:
- woman – justice (she is holding scales of justice) and liberty (she is holding a liberty cap on the end of her spear) which together are meant to represent women’s rights (when the state seal was first designed, in 1890, politicians in Idaho were discussing whether to give women the right to vote)
- man – the pick and shovel that he holds indicate mining’s importance to the state
- resources – farmland, wildlife, mines, timber
- river – Snake River
- cornucopias – agriculture
- syringa – state flower
- elk’s head – this is shown above the shield to represent Idaho’s game law that protects the elk and moose
- Explain that each state seal usually has a state motto that captures the spirit of the state or expresses its basic ideals. Discuss with students the motto of Idaho: “Esto Perpetua” (It is Forever). Emma Edwards-Greene, who designed the state seal, says that these words “breathe the prayer that the bounty and blessing of this land may forever benefit its people.”
- To conclude the lesson, have students create a seal for your school. Students should include symbols that have meaning to your school. They should also include a school motto. Students may instead choose to create a personal seal that includes symbols and a motto that have a personal meaning to them.