Statue of Liberty Activities

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

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

Few symbols in the modern US are as potent as the Statue of Liberty. With these in-class activities, your students will have a chance to explore themes of history, culture, current events, and identity.

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is a powerful symbol in the United States, with an interesting history behind it. As such, this monument can be incorporated into the classroom as part of lessons on history, culture, politics, identity, creative writing, arts, etc. These activities are designed to be adaptable to most grade levels and to fit into your existing curriculum.

Political Cartoons Activity

The Statue of Liberty has long been a potent symbol of liberty in the USA, the American Dream, the American nation, freedom, and opportunity. As such, it is ripe for use in political cartoons and has been employed frequently to help cartoonists make a point about laws or events. Discuss this with students, and consider showing them some examples of political cartoons that use the Statue of Liberty. Then ask students to make their own political cartoons that evoke this symbol.

This activity can be used in modern civics/political science classes to discuss current events or as a way to help students study US history and the ways that people in the past felt about historical events.

  • Materials: Paper, pencils/pens/colored pencils, slideshow of political cartoons (if desired)

Liberty Poems Activity

Ask students to compose a poem, or a set of poems, that evoke the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty. You can use this activity to teach students about various styles of poetry or as a way to explore different American experiences.

Consider asking students to write a poem from the perspective of an immigrant, then from their American-born children, then from the next generation, considering how each generation reflects upon the symbol of the Statue of Liberty and their American experiences. Students could also use their poems as a way to engage with current events in the United States or to explore the historic exclusion of certain populations from access to liberty (e.g., segregation, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Trail of Tears, etc).

Primary Source Activities

Divide the class into small groups, and give each group a primary source that deals with someone seeing/reflecting on the Statue of Liberty in the late 19th or early 20th century. You might consider making this a set of accounts from immigrants during the Gilded Age/Progressive Era immigration booms.

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