Students watch a video about the history of Montana’s government. They learn about the state seal and the significance of each of its symbols. They then create a seal that represents the governmental structure of Montana, including its tribal governments.
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.
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.
- Image: Montana State Seal
- Video: Great States | Montana Government
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show videos to the class
- Construction or loose-leaf paper
- Pencils, markers, or crayons
- Introduce the concept of symbols by asking students for the symbols for words such as “love,” “dollar,” “peace.” Clarify that symbols are abstract representations of ideas and concepts; images are visual likenesses of actual things.
- Then, project the state seal.
- Ask students to identify the images and symbols on the state seal. Point out that Montana’s state seal emphasizes the geographical features of Montana; no people are shown in the seal. Ask what the shovel, pick, and plow might symbolize (mining and farming). Indicate that these are economic symbols of Montana.
- Tell students they will be viewing a short video about Montana’s government. They should take notes about the major characteristics of Montana’s government structure as they watch.
Play the video, Great States | Montana Government [3:28]
- After reviewing the main points of the film, instruct students to create a different state seal for Montana: one that emphasizes governmental structure. They should also write an updated state motto: one that emphasizes Montana’s democratic values (e.g., democracy, freedom, justice) as evident in the structure of Montana’s government. They can use a mix of symbols and images in their design. They should make sure to represent Montana’s tribal governments in their seals.
For more on Montana’s state seal, click here: Montana Secretary of State: About the State Seal.