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Personal Monuments

In the midst of this week filled with people and events that change history... I think this project is particularly fitting!

Enlist students to conduct research about monuments and why they are important.  (Students can write about their findings or create powerpoint presentations with images that inspire them).

Students can then start to imagine that they are the people changing history.  They can imagine what a monument built for them might look like.  What would they be remembered for?  How can they be represented in a structure?

Next have students construct monuments to themselves out of cardstock and masking tape.  Once the monuments are constructed, have students paper mache their structures for stability.  Then the structures can be painted.

When the monuments are finished you can take them outside and photograph them to look like giant monuments.  Take the photographs from below at an angle looking up at the monument and make sure objects in the background don't give clues as to their actual sizes.  The monuments pictured below are only about 15-20 inches tall.

My students love this project and I hope yours will too!

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Janine Riveire

This look at monuments is excellent, but should not stop with younger students. An excellent activity with high schoolers is to examine the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington, D.C. Today it is one of the most popular monuments in terms of numbers of visitors and emotional impact on them. However, when Maya Lin first won the competition to design this memorial, there was a vast public outcry against her design. Why? What did the selection committee and the designer see and understand about the design that the general public (and many in congress) did not recognize? What do visitors now have to say about the built monument? These are important questions to ask in our Political Science, Government and History classes. I would urge any readers not familiar with that moment in monumental history to investigate. The discussion with your students will be rich.

Carolyn Elwood

Thanks Janine, I couldn't agree more! The possibilities for making connections for students is limitless. The research can be shaped according to age and curriculum needs and the monuments can be built out of whatever materials you have available. Students can even bring in recyclable materials to build with. I appreciate the input!!

Alyssa Zelkowitz

This is a really great idea! For Earth Day last year, I did have my students make "found art" statues/sculptures out of recyclables, and I will definitely incorporate your suggestions for photographing and contextualizing their experience when I do it again this year... thanks for this awesome resource!

Carolyn Elwood

Thanks for joining the conversation Alyssa! I'm glad that you found the suggestions helpful. I'd love to hear how it goes after your Earth Day statues/sculptures are completed this year!

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