Last updated: August 18, 2015
Learning about the NPS Arrowhead & other Symbols
- Grade Level:
- Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
- Social Studies
There are almost 400 National Park sites in the United States. These places include parks, battlefields, monuments, seashores, historic sites and recreation areas. The National Park Service protects these places because they are important to our nation.
The arrowhead is the symbol for the National Park Service. This shape reminds us of the culture and history National Park sites protect. Each picture inside the arrowhead represents something that is protected in a National Park site.
Students learn how the design of the National Park Service arrowhead is made up of symbols and then have a chance to create their own design.
Students will be able to describe the symbolism behind the National Park Service Arrowhead.Students will have the chance to use their understanding of symbols to create their own arrowhead design.
- NPS Arrowhead Symbols handout – one per student, this introduces students to the concept of symbols
- Coloring Arrowhead – one per student, a worksheet to color in the National Park Service arrowhead
- Blank Arrowhead - one per student, a worksheet for students to design their own arrowhead
Begin with the NPS symbols worksheet. Have students follow the directions to fill in the blank in each sentence.
You may wish to then have the students color their own National Park Service arrowhead. Finally, using the blank arrowhead worksheet, have students design their own arrowhead. Possible assignments might be to use symbols that represent their class, themselves, their family, a favorite natural place or Yellowstone.
While students are working and as they finish ask individuals why they chose specific symbols and what they represent.
Yellowstone was the first National Park, the arrowhead symbol is seen throughout Yellowstone on everything from park vehicles and ranger uniforms to the entrance sign.
You may wish to have students go to an outdoor place and select a natural object that could be a symbol for themselves or their class. Have students share with the group or write in their journal/composition book why they picked their object and what aspect it represents.
Have students identify other symbols around their school or community and learn what they represent.
After or during a visit to Yellowstone or another natural place have students select a natural object that could be a symbol for that place. Have students share with the group or write in their journal/composition book why they picked their object and what aspect it represents.
This activity may be adapted for different grade levels dependent on the requirements placed on the students.
History of National Park Service Visual Identity, National Park Service Harpers Ferry Center