Students learn about several Oregon State symbols, and that many are related to the economy of Oregon. They then create a new state flag using state symbols.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Oregon | Unit 8: Modern Oregon & State Symbols." In this unit, students will consider Oregon’s natural and cultural heritage, as well as the state’s current day strengths and challenges. Students also learn about the state’s symbols and their meanings.
4.18: Identify key industries of Oregon.
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show pictures to the class
- Image: Beaver
- Image: Meadowlark
- Image: Square dance
- Image: Dungeness crab
- Image: Chinook salmon
- Image: Pear
- Image: Oregon grape or Oregon grape fruit
- Image: Oregon sunstone
- Image: Swallowtail
- Blackboard or chalkboard
Tell students that they will be learning about Oregon’s state symbols.
Project each of the symbol images to the class as you explain the following information about each symbol:
Beaver: State Animal – It’s significant for both the economy (fur) and waterway conservation. Remind students that the fur trade was one of the first industries in the area, as fur traders were the first explorers of the Oregon region.
Meadowlark: State Bird – It was chosen by school children, not the legislature. Back in 1927, students voted to have the meadowlark become the state bird in a statewide contest sponsored by the Audubon Society.
Square dance – State Dance – This symbolizes the friendly, lively manner of the Oregon people.
Dungeness crab – State Crustacean – This crab was chosen only because a 4th grade class petitioned to have it become the State Crustacean. Make a note to students that between this Dungeness crab and the state bird, the meadowlark—students just like them helped in that decision-making process. Specifically, for the Dungeness crab, the class organized themselves and petitioned their legislatures, making their voices heard.
Chinook salmon – State Fish – The Chinook salmon was chosen as it is highly prized in the fresh fish market, and is a large part of the Oregon economy. It’s also a key part of the natural river ecosystem.
Pear – State Fruit – Pears grow well in the state, and they are sold around the country. Note that this is one of Oregon’s many exports or goods that we ship elsewhere to be sold.
Oregon grape – State Flower – This plant looks great all year round, since its got beautiful flowers, fruit, and greenery. The grapes are edible but are very bitter. The plant is more often used in jams or jellies than for eating directly, or for medicinal purposes for a wide variety of issues.
Oregon sunstone – State Gemstone – This gem was chosen because it attracts miners and commerce to the state.
Swallowtail – State Insect – This butterfly was chosen for its beauty and ability to fly well and not get caught.
Explain that, in the past, school kids have been successful in creating new state symbols, such as the elementary kids in Montana who got the governor to declare a state soil in 2015. Ask students to volunteer new ideas for an important Oregon symbol. Write their ideas on the board. Ask if any of the symbols relate to Oregon’s economy. Call on students to explain what industries, if any, are represented, and why they are important to include.
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