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Age range: KS2
Time: 15-20 minute starter activity

What’s on your coat of arms?

Looking for a new way into autobiographical writing? Give your class this creative starter task. They’ll design a coat of arms and will soon be thinking about how they want to represent themselves to the world.

1) Look at example Coats of Arms

Show your group some different examples of coats of arms, perhaps including local ones for your school, town, county or country. Some interesting ones include coats of arms from the Seychelles, Mexico and Nunavut in Canada. What do they notice? What stands out?

Explain to your group that a coat of arms is a unique design that is put on a shield to represent a person, country or business. Ask them to suggest what the designs you’ve looked at tell you about the place or person who use them.

The Hogwarts Coat of Arms from Harry Potter is also a nice example because the animals represent different qualities: the lion is brave, the snake is cunning, the eagle is clever and the badger is kind.

2) Design individual Coats of Arms

Now it’s time for the children to get cracking with their designing!

We gave our groups a shield divided into quarters, so they could choose four different things to put in their coats of arms. (Get yours here: Coat of Arms worksheet) Of course, your group may want to create their own layout.

Here are some ideas for what to put in different segments:

  • Symbols of favourite activities
  • Animals that show particular qualities
  • People, animals or places that are important to the designer

If children finish quickly, they could also create a motto to be displayed underneath their coats of arms.

3) Explain your Coats of Arms

When the children have devised their coats of arms, they can use them to prompt a presentation or piece of extended writing. Your pupils can explain what they have chosen for their coats of arms and why, developing their writing further with examples and anecdotes.