Please Don't Eat the Artwork



Space Invaders

3rd graders learned about mosaics, street art, grids, complementary colors, and pixels for our Space Invader project. I got this idea from Artsonia when I was student teaching and have since lost the exact link. (If you know the origins of this lesson, please share!)

We began by watching this video:

We talked about pixels and video games and students came to the conclusion that the person who made this video probably thinks that video games are destroying the world. New art forms met old when we compared artwork by street artist Invader to images of some old school mosaics. Students made a real-world connection when they noticed that both artworks reminded them of Mine Craft which is a super popular computer game.

We began by creating a grid using some prior knowledge of math and measuring. This was a pretty tricky process and required a lot of step-by-step instructions, differentiation, and peer cooperation. Students measured out inches on their 9×12 paper on all 4 sides and used the ruler to create straight lines. I had some students write the number next to each inch mark so they could match it up when they drew the lines.



The next step was to create a Space Invader design. Students used markers to outline their creatures and chose their complementary colors. With all of the squares, it could get kind of visually jumbled up so some students decided to write letters in the squares to show where they were going to glue what color.

I pre-cut construction paper into 1×1 inch squares and students could take what they needed from the trays and fill up little recycled yogurt cups.



These came out AWESOME!!! Most of the kids really loved this project and you could hear a pin drop when they measured out their lines. They used team work to help each other be successful and shared ideas and tips on construction and production.



004 (2)

006 (3)

003 (2)

005 (3)

006 (2)


005 (2)





013 012 011 017 016 015 014


001 (2)


041 (2)

That last picture is an image of the self-assessment rubric. I thought it would be interesting to see what grade the kiddos would give themselves and whether or not my opinion matches. (Please excuse the “Scale” that does not make any sense, I used the rubric from another lesson.)

Here is the awesome display hanging outside of the front office suite. I decided to add some key words and vocabulary to spruce it up.


When I did this lesson as a student teacher it was during the first 8 weeks of school and it was completely crazy. I am glad it went so well at the end of the year. Only one project remains to be completed for most of the grades. Next up for 3rd graders is weaving with yarn. 🙂


5th Grade Graffiti Names

Most art teachers are terrified of teaching graffiti. This is understandable considering the implications of a child going out into the world and actually doing graffiti. It is illegal and vandalism. And most art teachers do not want the blame for when that child becomes a hooligan. I have a true love for street art and believe that in 2012, it is not only a form of contemporary art but a social movement that will be part of history. That being said, when I teach street art, I very dramatically stress the fact that IT IS ILLEGAL TO TAG ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU AND YOU WILL GET ARRESTED AND GO TO JAIL!!!!!!! I make this very clear to students. When we look at pictures of street art (we looked at tags and work by Banksy for this lesson) there are always a couple students who ask “did those artists go to jail?” and I slyly answer, “No, because they got permission of course.” This is obviously not true — the very nature of street art is one of anarchy and belligerence. But I am not teaching kids to be belligerent anti-society vandals; I am teaching them about modern pop art and how they can use the style to express themselves.

We talked about the style of graffiti letters, how they are not always easy to read (it was fun to try and untangle some of the tags I showed them as a class) how artists use embellishments like arrows and curvy wavy lines. We started off by drawing the letters regular. Then we turned them into bubble letters. Last was the fun part of adding graffiti details. Students had to use a variety of patterns and shapes to fill the space and I reminded students to make their compositions balanced.

Some students struggled with what to add but when I asked them what kinds of things they like to do, they were quick to add basketballs, pencils, flowers, headphones, and even magnets (from a kids who loves science). We painted using INTERMEDIATE COLORS of liquid watercolors. Students had to paint with contrasting colors. I urged the students to experiment with mixing colors and blending or splattering the paint. This was an overall successful project that the kids really connected with.