Fourth Grade students studied armor from 3 different places in the world- Europe, Japan, and the Islamic world. In Europe we discussed how the design of the armor often reflected popular clothing during that time period. Students were able to analyze the designs on the armor; understanding how the artistic choices represented the person inside. In Europe we saw symbols as well as illustrations that described scenes from the bible or military designs from Ancient Greece and Rome. In Japan, the samaurai's armor was very different. Warriors wore masks to protect them and also to scare their enemies. Their helmets also contained symbols. We saw one helmet that used a praying mantis to represent fearlessness or bravery. Students were also able to identify other symbols on their armor (like turtles to represent a long life). Lastly we looked at some Islamic armor. This armor did not include any symbols of people or animals like the others we viewed but instead was decorated with arabesques( looks like vines) and Arabic writing (often quotes from the Qur'an. Human and animal symbols don't appear very often in the decoration of Islamic arms because using such images to decorate mosques and the Qu'ran was forbidden.
After viewing and discussing these examples students set out to design their own armor, drawing inspiration from what they had just seen. Students began their design with tag board, covered it with foil, and etched their own symbols into the foil using a pencil. Later students discussed medival weaponry and shields and added these elements to their work as well.