Lesson Plans Recommended for Grades 3-8
Lesson 1 | Lesson 2
Lesson 2: Public Memories
- Ask students to contribute to a list of ways we remember public or civic events. Some include: parades, sculpture, ritual celebrations, mosaics, murals, songs, slogans, legends, or insignia.
- What kind of public moments and public figures do we commemorate? Examples are
New Year, birthdays of national leaders, religious events, or public service (veterans, presidents).
- How do we remember the Civil War? Examples are
history books, television programs, family stories and mementos, Memorial Day and Veterans' Day, songs, or art.
- Public sculpture is a way of remembering. The Shaw Memorial commemorates:
- the first African-American regiment of the North and the fifth black regiment in the Civil War
- the bravery of the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment and its leaders in storming Fort Wagner, South Carolina, when the odds were against them
- their sacrifice in battle (281 of 600 died), which inspired many more African Americans to volunteer as soldiers (a total of nearly 180,000 African Americans)
- the regiment's courage in joining the Union troops, for blacks risked being sold into slavery if captured in uniform by Confederate soldiers, and white officers risked execution
Study the Shaw Memorial
Look at the relief sculpture created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Study it overall. Study its details. What does the memorial represent? Is this a specific moment? Why did the artist choose to depict the group in this way?
Find the memorials in your town
Do you know which public monuments exist in your home town? You can search for some of them on the Smithsonian's Internet site for research at http://www.siris.si.edu. Make a list of local monuments using the Internet and local resources. You can sketch or photograph the monuments, find photos of them, visit some of them, and create a visual portfolio in your classroom or for your school. Your class may even decide to conduct research on one or more local monuments. You'll be surprised at how much is known, but not shared, about neighborhood public sculpture.
Art activity: Create your own public memorial
As a class, select an event (historical or contemporary) to commemorate with a public sculpture. Call your local planning office. If your town is in the process of planning a memorial, you might participate by choosing that subject or event. Submit class ideas.
Form small design groups. Draw designs for each group's ideas. Select materials such as paper, paper mache, clay, or wood, as art class allows. Build one project, as a class, or build each group's idea.