Junior Ranger Challenge -- Great Seal of the U.S.

What is the Great Seal of the U.S.?

The Great Seal is a picture that stands for the United States. You may have already seen this picture on a one dollar bill. Back in Benjamin Franklin’s time, some people in the government decided that the new nation needed a symbol. Each part of the picture has a special meaning that reveals something about the country. When the Great Seal is stamped on a government paper, it makes it official. Schools, companies and even families sometimes use their own seals.
 
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.
The Great Seal tells us about the United States.  What seal would you draw to tell people about yourself, or your family?

NPS photo

 

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

 

Directions

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.

Last updated: September 20, 2019

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