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Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs

Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs
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Kids can learn how to make personal Hex signs based on Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Sign examples.

By Dawn Sabol


  • Upon successful completion of the lesson on Pennsylvania Dutch Hex signs, the sixth grade students will be able to identify and create Hex signs, based on unity, focal point, nature and a personal meaning, with 100% accuracy.

The students will be able to:

  • Base their Hex signs on nature and have a personal meaning for their family or themselves.
  • Identify the focal points and unity in their Hex signs.
  • Create a personal Hex sign in a 9″ diameter circle on a wooden disk in a primary color scheme with red, blue, yellow and black paints.

What You Need:

  • Hex sign samples (click here)
  • sketch books and pencils
  • pre-cut circular wooden disks (9×9) covered in white gesso (have holes drilled before hand); Cardboard may be used for a low budget classroom.
  • acrylic paint for wooden disks (outdoors) tempera paint in primary colors (will need black for shades)
  • palettes
  • paint brushes
  • bowls of water
  • compass, large circles (cut before or during the class), rulers

What You Do:

Day 1

  1. The Pennsylvania Dutch heritage will be introduced and discussed with students.
  2. Students will know that these settlers brought their Old World (German) customs and traditions to Pennsylvania.
  3. Students will know that Hex signs are based on nature and meaning for the family.
  4. Students will be shown a Hex signs with descriptions (see resources below). They will form groups of two, as they discuss the Hex signs.
  5. Students will identify the focal points and unity found in the Hex signs. These will be incorporated into their own signs.
  6. Students will take their sketch books and draw their own Hex symbols that incorporate nature, meaning for their own family or themselves, a focal point, and unity. (It is important to stress individuality of Hex signs).

Day 2

  1. Students will lightly draw their Hex design on a pre cut wooden (or cardboard) disk.
  2. The teacher will pour some acrylic paint onto paint palettes.Mix and smooth the paint with a palette knife.
  3. Students will hand paint their original hex design on the pre-cut wooden desk.
  4. These designs will incorporate many different shades and tints of the three primary colors (review the colors).
  5. Complete the project on the Hex signs.The critique will be the first ten minutes of the next class.

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Images: Dave Fooks, Kutztown Festival


  • Students are able to recognize Pennsylvania Dutch Hex signs.
  • Students are able to explain what Hex signs are and how they originated.
  • Students will create a Hex sign that incorporates a focal point and unity.
  • Students will select their own creative design based on nature and a meaning for the family or themselves.
  • Students will paint their designs using many different shades and tints of the three primary colors.
  • During a “critique” session, students will explain how their Hex sign has meaning (other than aesthetic beauty), relates to nature, a focal point, unity throughout the sign and a variety of shades and tints from the primary colors.


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