Junior Ranger Challenge -- Be a Historian

Color photo showing a detail of the Senate carpet, including the Great Seal of the U.S., with a ring of state seals around it.
There are symbols of government in many of the park buildings at Independence National Historical Park. These symbols are pictures that stand for states and countries. People who study history know how to look closely at pictures or words to learn about the past.

NPS photo


Your challenge: Find the symbols on the Great Seal of the U.S.



1. Look at the list of objects below. On a piece of paper, copy down the name of each object.
2. Examine the photo below, looking for each item on your list.
3. Draw a picture of the item when you find it, and cross the item off your list.
Color illustration of the Great Seal of the U.S., showing an eagle holding an olive branch and arrows, with the motto "E Pluribus Unum."
This is the Great Seal, a picture that stands for the United States.  You may have already seen this picture on the back of a one dollar bill.  Each part of the picture has a special meaning that reveals something about the country.

Find These Objects

  • Olive branch - a branch with 13 leaves. It means "peace" and each leaf stands for one of the original 13 states. The people who make the laws in Congress make decisions of peace.
  • Quiver of arrows - a case holding 13 arrows. It means "war" and each arrow stands for one of the original 13 states. The people who make the laws in Congress also make decisions about war.
  • Shield - the colors in the shield are red, white, and blue, just like the American flag. The blue part stands for Congress, the nation's lawmakers. the Congress helps hold all the states together.
  • Motto - a scroll with words on it. The words on the scroll say E Pluribus Unum, meaning "out of one, many." That tells us that the states are coming together to make one country.
  • Constellation - the cloud above the eagle's head. It has 13 stars, one for each original state. This part means that the U.S. is a new, independent country.

BONUS! Create YOUR own seal

1. On a piece of paper, draw a seal that stands for you and your family. What shape will you use for your shield? What pictures will you put in the shield? What motto will you choose? See examples in the Junior Ranger Challenge Photo Gallery.

Last updated: February 27, 2018

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