Museum’s Latest Educational Activity — “Picture a Patch”

Check Out the Museum’s Latest Educational Activity — “Picture a Patch”

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Download Family Activity Guide!

The Museum’s education programs are intended for people of all ages—adults, students, law enforcement professionals, families, teachers, and more.  This month, we introduce “Picture a Patch,” a downloadable family activity guide intended for elementary school-aged children and their families to enjoy at home. “Picture a Patch” focuses on law enforcement patches and encourages participants to think about the meaning behind their imagery and to have some fun, too!

Law enforcement officers in many departments wear patches on their uniforms.  Patches can represent the entire department or agency, a particular unit within that department, and more.  Often, an agency member has designed a patch to represent certain ideas, aspects of a unit’s job, or traits of a unit. And many officers collect the wide variety of patches that exist, trading their agency’s patches with officers from different agencies as a sign of good will.  The Museum’s family activity guide builds on this popular, colorful tradition and can help you and your family find a small measure of commonality with law enforcement.

Example of a patch from the Museum's collection.
We shared a prototype version of this activity at a festival. “Picture a Patch” is now improved and ready to use at home!

First, you can explore the idea of law enforcement patches and what they can represent by discussing their different graphics and symbols.  The activity guide includes examples of patches from the Museum’s collection and information about the symbols and graphics pictured on them, along with conversation starter ideas.  Your conversation helps lay the foundation for the next part of the activity, especially for younger children.

Now that you have some context, invite your children to design and draw a patch to represent themselves. Encourage them to think about what they consider important and what symbols they might use to depict those things, traits, or beliefs. Adults are welcome to help youngsters a little, but keep in mind the activity will be much richer if children think of their own ideas. Be sure to create a patch yourself for some extra fun!

Once you’re all satisfied with your patches, use the “Reflection and Conclusion” section to think together about what you’ve learned.  Do you think differently about law enforcement’s many roles now?  What did you learn about your child, or what did your child learn about you, as a result of your conversation?

And don’t forget to share your thoughts with the Museum!  Send us your comments, questions, and feedback.  We’re eager to hear about your experience using this family activity guide. 

As we hope you will learn in “Picture a Patch,” law enforcement patches can tell a story all their own through symbols and graphics. The Museum collection has a diverse array of patches from many agencies. With help from people who have developed or designed an agency’s patch(es) and have related knowledge, we can uncover each special story. If you have helped design a law enforcement patch, please let us know! Contact Vanya Scott, Registrar, at or 202.737.7869.