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Historica Canada Education Portal

Symbols of Canada

  • Citizenship
  • Elementary – Primary

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In this lesson students recognize symbols as Canadian, they present their significance, and find its place in the Coat of Arms of Canada.


To familiarize students with symbols and what they represent, to develop an awareness of self, group, and Canada.

Students will:

- Research the significance of symbols found in the Arms of Canada.
- Develop research skills to investigate the meaning of each symbol. 
- Present orally the findings of their research. 
- Locate the position of each symbol in the Coat of Arms of Canada. 
- Have a global understanding of the Arms of Canada and how together these symbols represent the people of Canada. 
- Analyse the inclusion and exclusion of groups within Canada.


Time Allowance:
3 to 8 periods (45 to 50 minutes periods) depending on expectations.


1. To introduce this topic, have different cards with symbols that we find in our social surroundings daily. Ask the students what and whom they represent, where they come from, where we use them.

2. After explaining that Canada also has symbols, use the online Symbols of Canada resource, and assign to each student (in pair or individual) one symbol from the Coat of Arms.

3. Students will research information on their symbol's historical background (whom and what it represents, where it is from…).

4. Students will prepare a mini-presentation of the symbol they researched, and may also create a larger format of their symbol on a presentation board.

5. Students will do a mini-presentation of their symbol.

6. When the students are more familiar with the symbols and their definition, have a symbols relay. Clear away the desks or go outside for this one. Give each student an illustration of a symbol of the Coat of Arms of Canada. On the other end of the class or field, have the definitions or names of the symbols posted. Each student has to run up the field, find their definition, and run back with both pieces of paper in their hands. Could be played in teams, individually, trading pictures for every round.

7. Debriefing of information learned. How they perceive Canada and its symbol now that they have all this new information. Is it different than the idea they had of the Coat of Arms they saw in step number two.

8. To ensure that students know where in the Coat of Arms of Canada their symbol belongs, have the Coat of Arms of Canada cut up so it is a puzzle, scale it appropriately for the age group you are working with. Students will put together the puzzle as they think it should be. Students can then compare each other ideas. At the end of this activity students may glue their Coat of Arms to a construction paper.

Evaluation Suggestions:

Association game symbols/definitions

In a short paragraph, describe the history of the Coat of Arms of Canada and what it represents.

Create a Coat of Arms that will describe you as a person, chose symbols you know, create and explain new symbols. Could be presented to the class.

Class participation

Required Materials:

- The Arms of Canada booklet, or information about the Arms of Canada.

- Poster of the Coat of Arms of Canada

- Copies of the Coat of Arms, cut into pieces to create a puzzle (enough for each individual or group)

- Glue

- Construction paper

- Illustration of each symbol contained in the Coat of Arms of Canada

- Access to Internet, encyclopedia and library

- Definition cards of each symbol