North Carolina State Symbols Art Tour

Emily Mays

Lesson Goals

Students will:
– demonstrate knowledge of 4-6 symbols representing North Carolina.
– integrate North Carolina and/or history into an original theatrical work, then perform it for a small group.
– integrate North Carolina imagery into a visual art form.
– interpret and perform a short dance sequence with clarity, intention, and focus.
– understand how dance is a part of cross-curricular disciplines.

This is a week-long lesson to teach students different symbols representing our state of North Carolina. Each day incorporates a different Arts standard, including visual art, dance, music, and theater with the social studies standard for state symbols.


Presentation with symbol definition and examples (Monday)
Photographs of state animals: turtle, squirrel, opossum
Shape cut-outs
Craft foam
Cardboard pieces
Black and blue paint
Yellow crayons
Liquid glue
Smithsonian Channel honeybee dance video
Honeybee Dance Directions
State motto and a few tune options for writing a song


“What is a symbol?” Show students multiple symbols (i.e. the American Flag, McDonald’s Arches, peace sign, apple logo, fish symbol, heart, recycling, emojis…etc.) Talk about how symbols show meaning without using any words.
(make a copy of the presentation to edit to fit your grade level/curriculum)
Introduce the NC flag and each of its parts and what they represent.
Creative Writing: Write a story using a symbol

Give students a copy of the motto “Esse Quam Videri” or “To Be Rather than to Seem”. Ask them to write a description of the motto in their own words, and give them options of tunes to set it to and then sing it as a group.

Show the Smithsonian Channel honeybee dance video (
Use the waggle dance game from Friends of the Earth (
Use honeybee text to incorporate ELA (

Use September’s visual arts workshop to allow students to draw their choice of either the state mammal (squirrel), state reptile (turtle), or state marsupial (opossum).
Explain how animals are made up of basic shapes and model using a bear or non-North Carolina related animal.
Give students a photo of their chosen animal and construction paper shapes to see the shapes their animal is made of.
Then have them sketch their animal using the shapes and then filling in the details.
SW trace their animal onto a piece of foam, cut out the animal, and then glue it to a piece of cardboard.
The student will then paint over the foam with black paint, and stamp the animal onto a painted blue background with a yellow moon.

SW write a simple play by first numbering a sheet of paper down the middle (1, 2, 1, 2…skipping a line between each digit).
They will choose any of the symbols discussed this week and take 3-5 minutes to write dialogue about that symbol.
SW then pair up and choose one partner’s play to perform. They will take 5-7 minutes to practice and revise.
Then they will form groups of four and each pair will perform their play for the other pair.
If there is time, repeat steps 3 & 4 with the other partner’s play.

Differentiation Approaches

1. Allow students who are nonverbal to type their play into a text to speech translator or voice recording app so they have another form of communicating their dialogue
2. ELLs can write their play in their native language first and then use a dictionary or other resource to translate it into English.
3. Add extra time by allowing the student whose poem is not used first to finish it at home or later in class and then have their turn to perform it the next day.
4. Students with mobility issues can direct a partner in doing the waggle dance.


Monitor students as they perform their plays for their groups to see if the dialogue shows an understanding of the topic they wrote it about.

Follow Up and Extension Ideas

The next day, or if you have extra time after the play, allow the students to repeat the process of practicing, editing, and performing with the other partner’s play.
Reuse the animal stamps for a unit on animals

Additional Details

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