Museum Classroom: Commemoration in Stamps

Lesson: Commemoration in Stamps
Topic: Exploring forms of communication
Grade: 4-8

Activity: DIY Stamp

Materials Required:

  • Pencil
  • Pencil crayons
  • Markers
  • Eraser
  • Lined paper

Materials Provided:

  • DIY Stamp Template

Pre-Lesson: Discussion of Communication
This activity can be done individually, however STCM recommends having a partner for brainstorming. With a partner or family member, discuss how the world communicates to each other from a distance. What do we use today to send messages to one another? Social media, email, instant messaging, video and phone calls, texts, mail. Discuss how people communicated before the modern technology we use today. People communicated through letters sent to them through the mail. In order to send letters, people use stamps. It officiates the letter and pays for the delivery to the right person. Google examples of letter stamps.

On a lined piece of paper or in a Word document, record your observations. What are the features you notice in each stamp? What is similar? Who or what is on the stamps? Stamps can be used to celebrate and honour important people in the community, country and world that have contributed something significant to society.

For this activity you will need to print off the Stamp Template.

Note: if you do not have access to a printer, STCM recommend the following steps to complete the activity digitally:

  1. Download the Stamp Template (Adobe). If you can edit with Adobe, design your stamp this way or;
  2. Download the Stamp Template (Word). If you can edit with Word, design your stamp digitally this way or;
  3. Download the Adobe file and save your Stamp Template as a jpg. If you have a Photoshop program, design your stamp template in Photoshop.  

The Post Office is looking for a new stamp celebrating someone from the Niagara Region. They have reached out to you to design a postage stamp commemorating William Hamilton Merritt. You will need to include all the important features of a traditional stamp, while incorporating images and symbols to represent the Merritt’s contribution to the Niagara Region using the Stamp Design Template. Once you are done your stamp, write a short explanation of their images and why they chose to include them. 

Wrap-up Discussion
With your partner or family member, discuss as a class why we might honour and celebrate a famous person or event on a stamp. What other ways might a community celebrate a significant person or event? Why do we use images to represent ideas about historical people or events?

Extension Activity
Complete a small exit card explaining what you have learned about stamps, commemoration, and image representation and how you can use the what you have learned in the future.

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