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Signs and Symbols #3: Symbols of the United Arab Emirates

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students learn to identify and name symbols of their host country.  I have written this lesson for the six official symbols of the United Arab Emirates, but you can adjust the symbols to match your home/host country.  The information literacy skill is listening, something kids really have a hard time doing when they are excited!

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



Identify and name six symbols of your home/host country.  Also, sketch at least one symbol of your home/host country.  (AASL 1.1.6, “Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format . . . in order to make inferences and gather meaning.”)

Suggested Time:

35-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will identify and label six national symbols.  Students will also sketch at least one national symbol, typically the official crest or emblem of the country.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Ask students to give you a common symbol for love, for peace, or for “stop.”  Ask them to state what a symbol is.  Explain that today they will be given clues about symbols of their host country.  For the United Arab Emirates, there are six official symbols – there may be more or less for your country.  However, I have found that six is a comfortable number to work with.  Explain that they will have to listen carefully to identify the clues and name the symbols.

Pass out the student assignment sheets, make sure everyone writes his/her name on the paper, and give the children a few minutes to have a good look at the symbols.

2. Main:

One at a time, present the clues for each of the six symbols.  (Sample clues for the UAE can be found at the end of the Student Assignment Sheet.)  I have found that children do not listen carefully and often make inappropriate guesses.  Work slowly and be patient.  Help the children think through their responses.  If you are describing a traditional boat (dhow) and the child answers, “skyscraper,” ask whether a skyscraper can help a pearl diver reach the pearls in the ocean.

Usually I end up giving letter clues on a white board or flipchart paper.  I write “d” then “dh” then “dho” until someone can give me the entire word, “dhow.”  Don’t ever completely give away an answer, but use your most effective strategy for helping the children make educated guesses or connect to what they may already know.

After all six symbols with pictures have been identified, give more clues for symbols that children can draw in the three large remaining boxes.  I always use the national emblem or national crest.  For the UAE, the national emblem has four main parts:  golden falcon, flag, stars, and banner.  Make sure that the children have the essential parts of whichever symbol you describe.  I also project a picture of the symbol they are intended to draw so that they have a sample to guide them.  My students usually only have time for one drawing, but I have left three boxes in case your kids have time to draw more national or state symbols.

3. Conclusion:

Ask the students to check their work to make sure that it is complete.  Do a quick wrap-up by giving clues again and having the class answer in unison.  They should be able to quickly and correctly answer questions about all six symbols they labeled and any symbols that they drew.  By the end of the lesson my kids were good to go with “dhow,” “dallah,” “oryx,” “falcon,” “date palm,” “UAE flag,” and “UAE emblem.”

  1. Copies of Student Assignment Sheet (attached.)
  2. Clipboards
  3. Clues/Hints for the chosen symbols. I have included a sample of hints at the end of the student assignment sheet.
  4. Computer with an Internet connection for accessing Google Images.
  5. Projector and screen for showing children the national emblem/crest or any other symbols you ask them to sketch.

In my experience, the children have seen the symbols, but usually can’t name them, and they know very little about their meanings.  When I wrote this lesson, I thought it would be a “bust.”  I assumed that the kids would already know the material, and that we’d zip through the clues and still have time for drawing a lot of complicated new symbols at the end.  I was completely wrong!  It took them a long time to listen to and understand the clues and then name the matching symbol.  Writing the name of the symbol below the picture took even longer.  Conceptually this is a simple lesson, but it is hard work for many of the children.

Recommended Books for this Lesson:


Key Words:

Signs, Symbols, UAE, Signage, Emblem, Dhow, Dallah, Oryx, Date Palm, Falcon, Flag

Student Assignment Sheet, UAE Symbols