Elementary School

The Meaning of the Great Seal of The United States

February 20, 2017
The Founding

The Meaning of the Great Seal of the United States

The Great Seal of the United States is the official emblem and heraldic device of the United States of America.  It was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1782 to represent the nation and to demonstrate to other nations of the world the ideas and values of its Founders and people.  Great Seals have their origins in the royal seals of the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries.

The Great Seal of the United States guarantees the authenticity of official U. S. documents.  It is used 2,000-3,000 times per year to seal documents.  Such documents include treaties, presidential proclamations, appointments of government officials, and presidential communications to heads of foreign nations.  The seal is also printed on the U. S. $1 bill, providing U. S. citizens with a ready reference to the nation’s foundational ideas.  The custody of the Great Seal is assigned to the U. S. Department of State.  The seal can be affixed by an officer of the Secretary of State.

The Great Seal was adopted by the Continental Congress on June 20, 1782.  It was first used officially on September 16, 1782, to guarantee the authenticity of a document that granted full power to General George Washington “to negotiate and sign with the British an agreement for the exchange, subsistence, and better treatment of prisoners of war.”  Thomas Jefferson was the first Secretary of State to have custody of the Great Seal.

The Great Seal has two sides and displays a number of important symbols.  The front (obverse) side of the seal displays the coat of arms of the United States.  The coat of arms is officially used for coins, postage stamps, stationary, publications, flags, military uniforms, public monuments, public buildings, embassies and consulates, passports, and items owned by the U. S. government.

Do you know the meaning behind The Great Seal? This Great Seal file breaks it down for you.

“Symbolically, the Seal reflects the beliefs and values that the Founding Fathers attached to the new nation and wished to pass on to their descendants.”

– U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs



Check out Elementary School lesson plans for The Great Seal in America’s Heritage:  An Adventure in Liberty.

This unit is available to download from the Member Resources at www.americanheritage.org.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

The Great Seal of the United States – Elementary Lesson Plan

January 20, 2017
The Founding

AHEF_The Great Seal

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the American Patriotic symbols. The Great Seal was produced by the Founders to help unify the nation and demonstrate to the world the qualities of the nation.

The student will be able to identify elements and American patriotic symbols including Great Seal of the United States.

The Latin words on the Great Seal are one of the factors that express our intention as a nation to be one. The nation is composed of people from all over the world and residents of different states, but from these many the one people of the United States are formed.


Sneak peek of one of the activities in the lesson plan.


To see The Great Seal in color, head over to this blog post.

ObverseGreatSeal ReverseGreatSeal

United States Presidents – Elementary Lesson Plans

January 20, 2017
The Founding

United States Presidents – Elementary Lesson Plans

Since the inauguration is today, we thought we’d share some of the lesson plans that focus on presidents.

Prior to the lesson, ask students to talk about the U. S. Presidents with their parents. In class, ask students to name the presidents of the United States that they know. Make a list of the names on the board. Ask students why presidents are important to the history of our nation. Show the students the president cards* and fast facts* and ask them to review information about the presidents.

*download the lesson plan to access the president cards and fast facts.


Here’s a sneak peek of a few of the activities located in The U.S. Presidents Lesson Plan




–Updated Presidential lesson plans will be coming in the future.

To download this whole unit from America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Libertysign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the “resources” page on americanheritage.org.  To order the printed binder format of this resource with all the units, go to the AHEF bookstore.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Elementary and Middle Lesson Plans

January 13, 2017
The Founding





Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is Monday. Here are a few classroom ideas.

Elementary  and Middle School Lesson

With MLK Day approaching, take some time to create a calendar for the classroom that honors American heroes.

Several United States holidays celebrate the accomplishments of noted Americans such as George Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. Work with a group of students to compile a list of these national holidays. Then use the list to create a calendar or other type of display that shows the dates of the holidays, the name of the person being honored, and a brief statement about the person’s contribution to the freedom and unity of America. Illustrate the calendar and display it in the classroom.

High School Lesson Plan

Read the letter King wrote on April 16, 1963, while he was imprisoned in Birmingham Jail during America’s Civil Rights movement. Paragraphs 11-13 are of particular importance to our exploration of Natural Rights.

  1. Summarize the main points of the letter.
  2. Record references King makes to historical religious and legal thinkers on natural law and natural rights.

Click the button below for links to the letter and more high school lesson ideas.


This unit can be downloaded from the Member Resources at www.americanheritage.org.

Welcome to The Founding!

December 9, 2016
The Founding


Welcome to The Founding! Provided by the American Heritage Education Foundation (AHEF), The Founding is a blog that features articles, videos, research, and teaching ideas on America’s philosophical heritage for citizens, teachers, and homeschoolers.  It explores American rights and responsibilities and what it means to be an American, giving special attention to the Bible-based principles that shaped America’s foundations.  Studies confirm that this information is missing in many schools today and that Americans today are deficient in civic knowledge about our nation.

The Founding is a non-profit, non-partisan initiative that seeks to promote the understanding and teaching of America’s founding principles in order to preserve the American idea and to help restore an educated citizenry in our self-governing republic.

America Succeeds by Freedom, Unity, Progress, & Responsibility


We support the ideas of Freedom, Unity, Progress, and Responsibility (FUPR).  We believe that without the teaching and learning of these four concepts, America, as we know it, is at risk. For more information on FUPR, see http://americanheritage.org/index.php/en-us/fupr.

This blog is inclusive of individuals of every race and creed and of every religious and non-religious persuasion who respect every American’s natural rights as recognized in the U. S. Declaration of Independence and affirmed by law in the U. S. Constitution.

We invite you to respond to articles, share relevant ideas, draw your own conclusions, and let us know if you find this site useful. We’d love to hear from you.

Teachers and homeschoolers:  Check out our educational activities featured at the bottom of each blog. See below!

Yours Truly,
The Founding Team

P.S. We are excited to provide these resources for you.  Before browsing or posting comments on this site, please review our Terms of Use, Intellectual Property Restrictions, and Code of Conduct.  We ask that visitors do not post comments for marketing or commercial purposes.  Such posts will be removed.

Activity Downloads

Activity: America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty (ES-HS), American Heritage Themes Unit, pp. 21-27. ES-HS.



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