Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Origins of Heraldry

Cynthia Youngblood
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students design shields for personal coats of arms which depict themselves and then explain their shields to the class in an informal presentation.


The student uses volume, stress, pacing, enunciation, eye contact, and gestures that meet the needs of the audience and topic.

The student selects and uses a variety of speaking strategies to clarify meaning and to reflect understanding, interpretation, application, and evaluation of content, processes, or experiences, including asking relevant questions when necessary, making appropriate and meaningful comments, and making insightful observations.

The student uses details, illustrations, analogies, and visual aids to make oral presentations that inform, persuade, or entertain.

The student understands that works of art can communicate an idea and elicit a variety of responses through the use of selected media, techniques, and processes.


-The Origins of Heraldry handout (See Associated File)
-Teacher-made example of coat of arms
-Printed copies of sample coats of arms (See Weblinks)
-Printed copies of Examples of Students' Coats of Arms (See Associated File)
-Coat of Arms Evaluation Form, one per student (See Associated File)
-Construction or poster paper
-Colored markers or pencils
-Tempera paint
-Media center/computer lab to view Websites (See Weblinks)


1. Check out suggested Websites. (See Weblinks) Jot down addresses to share with students. (See Procedures, step #6)
2. Search for additional information on coat of arms.
3. Make copies of The Origins of Heraldry handout, Examples of Students' Coats of Arms, and the Coat of Arms Evaluation Form for each student. (See Associated File)
4. Make a model of your personal coat of arms.
5. Arrange to take class to the media center or computer lab to look at suggested Weblinks.


Note: This project can be used during the study of selections from English literature from the Middle Ages, such as “Beowulf,” “The Seafarer,” “The Canterbury Tales,” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.”

1. After studying a literary selection concerning the age of chivalry, discuss what the term “chivalrous” means. Explain to students that today we use the term chivalrous to describe the conduct of well-mannered and sensitive men toward women, but the medieval idea of chivalry, though it included the relations between the sexes, went far beyond this. It sought to make the knightly warrior as devout and tenderhearted off the battlefield as he was bold and fearless on it. Medieval romance consisted largely of tales of chivalry to which were added a love interest and all sorts of wonders and marvels--fairy enchantments, giants, dragons, wizards, and sorceresses. Of course, these chivalrous knights in armor brandished swords and shields, shields that bore their coat of arms.

2. Tell students to read the handout on The Origins of Heraldry (See Associated File) to learn how families began this practice of identifying themselves.

3. Ask students how many of their families have a coat of arms. If any, ask them to bring them in to share with the class.

4. Tell students to each design an escutcheon, a shield, for personal coats of arms, decorating them with three to five features that depict themselves. Include appropriate colors. They should also be prepared to give a three-minute informal presentation to explain their shields to the class. Review skills and strategies for informal speech presentations. (See Associated File) Review the Coat of Arms Evaluation Form as well. (See Associated File)

5. Show Examples of Students' Coats of Arms. (See Associated File) Note: Always save a few from each class to show as models. Teacher could also make one for himself or herself.

6. List Website addresses on the board. (See Weblinks) Tell students that they could look at the Websites on the board for ideas of what they could include on their shield. If students do not have Internet access at home, you could arrange to take them to the media center or computer lab.

7. Give students at least a week outside of class to complete this project.

8. After a week of preparation, have students orally share their shields with the class.

9. Evaluate the shields and informal presentations.


Initial Criteria for Shields and Presentations:
-Shield contains 3-5 features that depict individual;
-Shield uses appropriate colors;
-Shiled is approximately 2 ft. x 1 1/2 ft.;
-Presentation is approximately three minutes.

See the Coat of Arms Evaluation Form in the associated file to assess the content and delivery of the students' presentations.


Students could do a mini-research paper on the topic of the origins of heraldry.

Web Links

Great information on designing Coat of Arms

Great information on designing Coat of Arms.

Great information on designing Coat of Arms.

Great information on designing Coat of Arms.

Great information on designing Coat of Arms.
Free Coats of Arms

Attached Files

Attached file.     File Extension: pdf

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