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        Montana | Activity 8.1: A “Personal” State Seal

        Students examine the Great Seal of Montana. They review the meaning of the different objects on the seal, and create a seal that represents their school or home.

        Lesson Summary

        Students examine the Great Seal of Montana. They review the meaning of the different objects on the seal, and create a seal that represents their school or home.

        This lesson is part of "Great States: Unit 8: State Government & Constitution" which gives students the opportunity to explore some unique features of Montana’s politics and government, both in the past and today.

        Time Allotment

        15 minutes

        Learning Objectives


        4.4: Identify and describe famous people, important democratic values (e.g., democracy, freedom, justice), symbols (e.g., Montana and U.S. flags, state flower), and holidays, in the history of Montana. 

        Supplemental Standards:

        4.4: Identify state symbols; identify famous Montanans; identify and describe American Indian values, holidays, and symbols relating to Montana’s tribal heritage.


        • Image: Montana State Seal [Source: Wikimedia Commons.]
        • An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show images to the class
        • Class set of Montana State Seal handout
        • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils 


        1. Distribute the Montana State Seal handout and coloring tools to students.

        1. Tell students they will be looking at the Montana State Seal, which includes symbols that represent the history and meaning of Montana. Explain that state seals are used on state documents and sometimes state flags. Montana’s seal was designed in 1865, when it was still a US Territory. Simple drafts submitted by Beaverhead County Representative Francis McGee Thompson were adapted into what the seal is now.

        1. Project the image, Montana State Seal.

        2. Explain that when Montana became a state in 1889, legislators debated adding other elements to the seal, such as American Indians, settlers, horses, sheep, and more. It was ultimately decided to stay with the original seal for fear that revisions would make it too crowded. The only noticeable change is that there are now trees where bison used to be.

        1. Have students examine the Seal of Montana. Explain what the following mean:

          1. Water – represents the Great Falls of the Missouri River

          2. Mountains – represent the Rockies and the meaning of the state’s name

          3. Plow, pick, and shovel – settlers used these tools for farming and mining

          4. “Oro-y-Plata” – Spanish for gold and silver. Mining these two resources helped give the state its nickname, the Treasure State.

        1. Now, have students create a seal that represents their home or school. Instruct them to include a motto as well. Have students answer the questions on the handout about the seals they created.

        Answer Key

        1. Answers will vary

        2. Answers will vary

        3. Answers will vary

        4. State seals are important as they have symbols that represent the state. They are used on state documents.

        For more on Montana’s state seal, click here: Montana Secretary of State: About the State Seal.


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