Lesson Plan

Symbols: Everyday Objects Offer Comfort, Hope & Strength

In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, teddy bears and other items of comfort were left at the bomb site, symbolizing hope and comfort for the victims and their families. Soon, an organized effort helped each family receive a teddy bear at the statewide prayer service held on April 23, 1995. The teddy bear has come to be a special symbol at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

Lesson Summary

Students will identify symbols on the local, state, and national level and learn how symbols helped Oklahomans cope with the Oklahoma City bombing.

  • Essential Questions: How can an everyday object become more meaningful in times of trial?
  • Time frame: 1 class period
  • Subject(s): English, Social Studies, United States History, Oklahoma History
Materials Needed
  1. Ask students, “Have you ever had an item that brought you comfort because it symbolized something to you?” Examples could be a teddy bear that symbolized the love of a parent or a medal that belonged to a military veteran. Give students 5 minutes to think and jot down their thoughts, then invite them to share with the class.
  2. Read Symbols: Everyday Objects Offer Comfort, Strength, and Hope.
  3. Discuss various forms of symbols. For instance, teddy bears can signify comfort, flags can stand for patriotism, the index and middle finger in a “v” can symbolize peace, and the phrase “Boston Strong” embodies strength, determination, and resilience.
  4. As a class, list symbols found in the community. Begin with the local level – symbols at your school or in your hometown (sporting events are often a good place to start!). What about statewide symbols (check your state flag)? National symbols? Universal symbols?
  5. What are some symbols found in popular books or movies?
  6. What are symbols in literature you have read? Make a list based on your curriculum.
  7. Discuss why symbols are popular in literature. Do they make text more or less enjoyable?
  8. Assessment: Students will write an essay explaining a symbol found in their community, outlining its origins, meaning, and significance.

Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts Standard 3 R 4; grades 6-11
Students will evaluate literary devices to support interpretations of literary texts (symbolism).

Oklahoma Academic Standards for Social Studies: United States Studies Content Standard 2:C; grade 4:
Identify the historic significance of major national monuments, historic sites, and landmarks including the Jefferson, Lincoln, and Washington Monuments, the White House, the United States Capitol, the United States Supreme Court, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Historic Site, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 memorials, Independence Hall, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial/Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Oklahoma City National Memorial, Mount Rushmore, Little Bighorn National Monument, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Pearl Harbor Park.

Oklahoma Academic Standards for Social Studies; Oklahoma History Content Standard 5:10; grades 9-12:
Cite specific textual and visual evidence to analyze the causes and effects of the domestic terrorist attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, including the responses of Oklahomans to the event, the concept of the “Oklahoma Standard” and the creation of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.

Common Core Standards for ELA; Writing #4; grades 6-12
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

National Council for the Social Studies 4.g; grades 6-12:
Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of individual development and identity, so that the learner can analyze a particular event to identify reasons individuals might respond to it in different ways.

National Council for the Social Studies 6.e; grades 6-12:
Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance, so that the learner can distinguish among local, state, and national government.

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