Personal Symbol Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students will create a symbol that reflects their own distinct sense of self and explains their artistic choices, helping them appreciate the development and usage of symbolism in art and literature.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Communicate the importance of symbolism
  • Identify important elements of a symbol
  • Create a symbol that figuratively reflects their distinct sense of self


45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.


Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic.

Vocabulary and Phrases

  • Symbolism
  • Abstract
  • Shape
  • Color


  • Paper
  • Pencils, pens, markers, colored pencils, and/or other writing utensils


  • Ask the class to think about all the symbols they encounter on a daily basis.
    • What kinds of symbols do they experience? (Logos, school mascots, etc)
    • Why are symbols important? Why do we use them?
    • How do these symbols communicate their meaning?
    • How does color, shape, or degree of abstraction impact the effectiveness of a symbol?
    • How have humans used symbols to represent themselves throughout history?

'Who Are You' Exercise

  • Tell students that they will be creating symbols to represent themselves and their personal identities. Explain that you are going to start by asking students to free associate about themselves. Ask students to take out a piece of paper, and create three columns.
  • Ask the following questions, giving students a chance to write down their answers individually between each question. Instruct them to write their answers in column one.
    • What is your favorite academic subject?
    • What colors are significant to you?
    • What is your favorite food?
    • What are your three favorite hobbies?
    • Where would you most like to travel?
  • Ask students to answer the following questions in column two.
    • If you were an animal, what would you be?
    • If you could have lunch with any person from history, who would it be?
    • If you could live inside any story/movie, which would it be?
    • If you were a plant, what would you be?
    • If you were a non-living object, what would you be?
  • Ask students to answer the following questions in column three.
    • Where do you feel most at home?
    • What is your relationship like with your family?
    • What five words describe your personality?
    • What would your friends say are your best traits?
    • What are your top three goals in life?

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