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Story Theme Inspired Personal Symbols

In my last blog entry I suggested possible strategies for helping students to make connections through their art.  Here is one lesson I have done with my students that may be of interest:

Story Theme Inspired Personal Symbols

A Fifth Grade Lesson

Prior to this lesson students read stories with partners in their literacy class.  With their partner they discussed the story and settled on a theme (i.e. friendship, diversity, commitment, inspiration).

Guiding Questions:

"How was the story theme reflected in the book that you read?"

"What does your story theme mean to you?"

"How does the story theme reflect you and your life?"

"Can you think of one or more memories that reflect your theme?"

Activity:  Students will generate a list of words or a word web of things that come to mind when thinking about their chosen theme.  These words should be based on the book theme, but should reflect personal experiences or memories (i.e. what does friendship mean in your life or how has diversity affected you personally).

Next students will draw simplified symbols to represent each of the words on their list or web.

Sketch:  Each student will make thoughtful, artistic choices as they develop a sketch of a "personal" symbol based on the book theme, which combines and incorporates lines and shapes from their collection of symbols.

Symbol Collage:  Students create symbol collages, by cutting parts of their symbol out of card stock and adding color in different ways with patterned papers and oil pastel crayons.  Each student re-assembles their symbol in layers by raising some of the parts with small pieces of cardboard or 3D dots to create depth and dimension.  Contrast and definition are acheived by using different colors and patterns on different layers of the symbol.  Students should consider color and pattern choices which reflect their story theme (i.e. if a best friend's favorite sweater is pink and white polka dots then friendship can be reflected with pink and white polka dots in the symbol).


9 x 12 sketch paper

drawing pencils



collage papers

oil pastels


Student_work_019_2   Student_work_016                         Student_work_003                   Student_work_005_2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              


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