Students explore the idea of cultural symbolism, then use washable glue and construction paper crayons to create a Canadian cultural symbol.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 2 to Grade 8


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts


blend colour contrast cultural symbol shape symbol


Crayola Construction Paper Cayons Crayola Construction Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Washable No-Run School Glue

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CANADIAN CULTURAL SYMBOLS – Contrast, Symbolism - Step One

Step One

  1. Make a rough sketch of your Canadian symbol.
  2. Break the background into different shapes.
CANADIAN CULTURAL SYMBOLS – Contrast, Symbolism - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Use the sketch as a guide.
  2. Draw your symbol on a piece of dark construction paper using washable glue. 
  3. Set the glue drawing aside to dry overnight. The glue will dry clear so the lines will be the colour of the paper you use.
CANADIAN CULTURAL SYMBOLS – Contrast, Symbolism - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use Crayola construction paper crayons to colour the glue drawing.
  2. Press hard with the crayons to get lots of contrast.
  3. In each section blend at least two colours together by colouring one over the other.
CANADIAN CULTURAL SYMBOLS – Contrast, Symbolism - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Rub the crayon softly with your fingers to make it shine.
  2. Share your finished drawing with your peers. 
  3. Explain why it is a cultural symbol of Canada and why you chose it.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • design and draw a Canadian cultural symbol using washable glue;
  • use colour expressively to create contrast;
  • demonstrate their understanding of cultural symbolism;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity;
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works. 


Have students:

  • compare cultural symbols from two other countries with those of Canada, and explain how the symbols influence our ideas about those countries;
  • compile a set of cards of Canadian cultural symbols and their origins with the symbol on one side, and facts on the other, like baseball or hockey cards;
  • create an alphabet book using only Canadian cultural symbols.


  1. Download images of Canadian symbols from the Internet, for example,
    Maple Leaf
    Leaf Symbol
    Inuksuk Symbol
    Beaver Symbol
    Moose Symbol
    Hockey Symbol
  2. Gather and make available books about Canada and Canadian symbols, for example, A Northern Alphabet, by Ted Harrison The Inuksuk Book, by Mary Wallace; An Inuksuk Means Welcome, by Mary Wallace; Z Is For Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet, by Matt Napier; ABC of Canada, by Kim Bellefontaine; Oh Canada!, by Per-Henrik Gürth; M Is For Moose: A Charles Pachter Alphabet, by Charles Pachter; Canada Counts: A Charles Pachter Counting Book, by Charles Pachter. 
  3. Review how the Inuksuk came to be seen as a Canadian cultural symbol and the cultural appropriation controversy. (Downloads - Inuksuk.pdf)



  1. Read one of the picture books about Canada and discuss how the illustrator chose images to represent ideas and how they represent Canada. In particular notice the technique used by Ted Harrison. 
  2. Explain that these are cultural symbols. Cultural symbols are found in countries all around the world. They represent something that people in that country feel is important about the country, or part of the country.
  3. Brainstorm as a class, symbols that people in Canada find meaningful, for example, students might suggest the following:
    - Beaver
    - Maple Leaf
    - Moose
    - Hockey
    - Polar Bear
    - Inuksuk (an Inuit cultural symbol also used to represent Canada - see Appropriation - Downloads - Inuksuk.pdf)
  4. Discuss why these symbols are used to represent Canada and what they mean.
  5. Show students some images comparing actual objects with the way artists have changed them into symbols, for example, the maple leaf. Discuss how they are different and how they are the same, for example,
    - images of symbols are often flat, simple shapes
    - images of symbols are easy to recognize
    - images of symbols often use symmetry in the design
  6. Introduce the challenge


The Challenge

  1. Design and draw a Canadian cultural symbol using washable glue.
  2. Use colour expressively to create contrast.
  3. Demonstrate your understanding of cultural symbolism.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works. 

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a design made up of flat, simple shapes
    - created a cultural symbol that is easy to recognize
    - used contrasting colours expressively 
    - pressed hard with the crayons
    - kept the paper in good condition
    - accurately explained why it is a cultural symbol
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once all the drawings are complete ask students to share them in partners or small groups. 
    Ask them to:
    Look closely at the designs and how they are made.
    - Share thoughts about the work.
    - Talk about how simple shapes and contrasting colours contribute to the effectiveness of the designs.

    - Explain why the symbol they chose can be called a cultural symbol, and why they chose it.
    - Tell what was satisfying about making the design and explain why.
  2. Ask some students to share their ideas with the whole class.
  3. Display the drawings as a body of work.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss the art works – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - Canadian_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students reflect on their own artworks in their sketchbooks. Ask students:                                                                                                            
    - What worked well in your artwork? Why?                                                                                                                                                             
    - What would you change or do differently next time?                                                                                                                                                    
    - What does your cultural symbol of Canada mean to you?