Mural Lesson Ideas

Mural Lesson Ideas

Submitted by: Sandy Bacon, Harrisburg Elementary, Harrisburg, Ohio
Square 1 Art Fundraiser - Tile Mural
Whole School Project


Below is the picture of our Square 1 Art "The Great Tile Wall of Student Artwork" that was unveiled at the Gallery Hop. Marty Reid (from Square 1 Art) was great to work with and everyone was very excited to see the children's work permanently installed on the wall. I took that opportunity to teach a lot of basic lessons which was the theme for the hop, "Back to Basics." Kindergarten worked on assembling geometric shape pictures, first grade made jungle cat scenes learning how to overlap objects to create depth, second graders designed their happy faces using all different kinds of lines (taking a dot for a walk!) and crayon resist was their medium outlined in permanent marker, third grade used Construction Paper Crayons. and black Construction Paper. in a study of radial symmetry and principles of art, and fourth grade worked on symbols done in warm and cool color families.

I highly recommend Square 1 Art. Marty and her team hold your hand the whole way. Find out more about Great Wall of Art.


tile mural


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This page is just beginning. Send in a lesson idea along with a few images of student work. Include name of school and grade level - as well as media used. Just click on the "Submit a Lesson" above right.


mosaic mural

Submitted by: Jill Day
Lesson: Ceramic Textures Mural
Whole School Project


We did a whole school project last fall at our Elementary School of 550 students. This was a project my student teacher and I did together.  We made a textured tile mosaic mural that now hangs in the school. My student teacher saw the original lesson in Pottery Making Illustrated,. July/August 2004. We discussed the theme of community. Everyone in the school - Principal, lunch ladies, custodian, teachers, students made a 2 inch (5 cm) square tile. Students used the sole of their shoes to press into a Moist Clay. slab to create texture. Students made the tile, created texture, and glazed them during a 45 minute lesson. Underglazes. colors corresponded with those of the rainbow, so all together it made a stunning display. This was fun for everyone and the students love to see it hanging in the lobby.


Note: Jill made the murals into two sections because of the potential weight of tiles. Each student made two tiles - they textured them and underglazed them in one class period. Jill and her student teacher glazed all of the tiles. Older students could help with this task. A second set of murals was made for a school wide auction. The auctioned murals brought in $3500.



tile mural

Submitted by: Kim McSherry
Peoria Academy
Grid Enlargement Tile Mural


All students at Peoria Academy participated in a grid enlargement project focusing on art of Georgia O'Keeffe. Shown is the tile mural made by 8th graders for a permanent installation. Other grade level work was temporary.


Kim describes their process: Pick a piece of art work you wish to enlarge. Draw a grid out on the art piece taking into consideration the number of students in a class.


After grid is drawn on art turn over paper and number the grids then cut out the squares. Once squares are measured and cut have drawing paper measured, numbered, cut and ready to hand out. This paper should be in proportion with the piece the students will be drawing.


The math teachers are great at helping with the measurements. Instruct the students to draw in pencil on the blank piece of paper exactly what they see from the art piece they have. The younger students need to know they have to draw very very big. It helps to put the students together so they can match their lines up. We instructed them to put their papers together and draw together.


When finished we gave them Crayons., Pastels., or Tempera Paint. depending on the grade level. We instructed them to paint their piece exactly like they see on their art square. When finished we put the finished pieces together and the kids are amazed how they have enlarged a picture. With 8th grade we used tile and decorated one of our water fountains with this beautiful art piece the students created through grid art. For the tile mural, we used glass or tile paint (you can also use Decorative Paint Pens.) that you can get from any craft store. I used a Clear outdoor tile sealer. that can be purchased at any home improvement store. We mounted on the wall just as you would mount any wall tile (using traditional tile adhesive.).


Note: Kim found this practice worksheet [Archive] helpful in getting the students to understand drawing what they see in the grid.


crayon mural


What to do with all of those leftover crayons? Make a Mosaic Mural!
Submitted by:
Kelli Wilke

This amazing crayon mosaic mural was done about 25 years ago at Kelli's school. That teacher has since retired, but we think the crayons are glued directly to plywood panels with good old Elmer's Glue.. Kelli teaches at Crete Public Schools - Middle School, Crete, Nebraska.


mural       mural
Click detail for larger view


Submitted by: Mark Alan Anderson
Watercolor Collage Mural
Grade Level:
Elementary and up


From Mark: My kids and I worked on a mural project when I was doing the "Artist in Schools" residencies in Alaska. This particular project wasn't really a "recycled" paper artwork but it could very easily be turned into one with almost no additional effort. Essentially, the original pieces were the scraps of paper used for practicing various watercolor techniques. We separated the saved pages into color "piles"...pages that were mostly blues, reds, yellows, etc. We planned out a fairly large mural image which was sketched onto 4' x 8' (122 x 244 cm) sheets of corrugated cardboard (this technique is a favorite of mine!), pieced the cardboard together, and then created a mural that represented the region I was teaching the residency in (Kenai Peninsula in Alaska) by using torn pieces of the "recycled" practice watercolor sheets to collage the image.


It's now on permanent display at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School in Soldotna, Alaska. What's really cool is that ALL of the kids who participated in the artist residency wound up having ownership in the mural because we used ALL of their practice pages to collage it together. Mural was made permanent by sandwiching the panels between wood framework and Plexiglas. Finished mural is 20 feet by 8 feet (6 x 2.4 meters).


Note: Mark used Super 77 Spray Adhesive. to construct the mural. He does not recommend you use that with students. Try a mix of Wheat Paste. mixed with Elmer's Glue..

city mural       city mural       city mural

city mural       city mural       city mural


Submitted by: Linda Woods
City Murals - Mixed media


From Linda Woods: These were murals created by groups of 2nd graders (3 or 4 to a group). They are large, approximately 28' x 40' (8.5 x 12 meters), some even larger. We just recently donated them to DePelchin Children's Center, which is a place for abused, neglected, and otherwise traumatized kids. It's the first kid art they are putting up, but we hope to give them more. I'm creating a CD for each of my students with all of the 18 murals on it, and I am designing greeting card templates that will be on the CD as well. The images of the murals alone will be large enough to have printed out in poster size.

First thing we did was paint the skies about 2/3 of the way down a 28"x36" (71 x 91 cm) piece of white 100 lb Strathmore 400 Paper.. I showed the kids a book called Texas Sky., and we talked about clouds, weather, etc. We looked at the book, Skyscrapers.. Each child in every group then made a symmetrical skyscraper from a folded piece of paper in varying widths (so they would not all look the same height and width) building in neutral colors and gold metallic trim, with interesting shapes for the tops of the building. Using the first cut out skyscraper shape folded in half over a larger piece of folded paper, students added another layer in a different neutral color, multi cut the windows, folded those over another color and then multi cut the frames.

The next row of buildings called for children to select a group of left over Eric Carle. style painted paper, various metallics, and Construction Paper. colors that they would repeat in various ways throughout the middle row. For instance, if one building had a purple metallic door frame, another one might have a purple metallic bell tower. If one child used blue construction paper in a main building shape, another child in the group might use that same blue for doors and shutters on their building. The purpose was to create unity, contrast, and balance.


Basically, they all made their buildings from shared papers collected in advance together as they talked about what colors looked good with other colors. Before they glued these buildings down overlapping the back row, they painted a street in front of the back row of buildings, and they painted a lighter cement color down to the bottom of where the second row of buildings would rest when they got ready to glue them down. That way, they covered up art of their sky and created background for the second row of buildings at the same time. Now it was time to think about the foreground. We discussed the space in the foreground. I asked them to think about what would happen when they walked out the front door of the front row of buildings.

I said, "When you walk out the front door, you step onto a _________ (Sidewalk), as you step off of the sidewalk, you step into the ___________ (street). When you cross the street, you step onto a ___________ (Sidewalk). As you cross the sidewalk, coming forward, you walk into a ______________." (Park, beach, harbor, skating rink, yacht club, marina, race track, etc. I showed the children how easy it would be to fold a 24 inch piece of paper in half and cut a bridge by cutting a low arch, then a high arch (perhaps with interesting shapes spaced out along the way). Then they thought about how they could use multiple cutting of skinny strips, rectangles, etc. to make the upright cables to the top of the bridge as well as the supports below. Working in layers, children created each spatial area working from the bottom of their front row of buildings... sidewalk with people/pets on it, street with vehicles and passengers, sidewalk with more people on it, perhaps a long wrought iron fence entrance into a park, or trees that overlap the sidewalk and street and even some of the buildings, painted paper for the park, more painted paper cut out and glued on for paths, jogging trails, etc. Details for the foreground area... more people, perhaps pets, benches, plants, ponds, wildlife, etc.

The icing on the cake was glitter. We added some clear glittery wavy lines to ponds and oceans. We also added some glitter to signs, lights, etc. They of course, LOVED that part. I knew to save it until last, and I monitored each group as we added the glitter in a safe way together. NO fingers in the glitter, they glue one color at a time (with some coaching or suggestions from me), I pour and dump it off onto a folded page. The project took about 6 weeks, but it involved the children in such wonderful ways. First of all, to see second graders planning and compromising was wonderful. There were two groups from the start that had some interpersonal issues, but they learned to solve them, and in the end each group really felt like a team. They kept each other busy and the ideas just flowed.


mural Submitted by: Linda Woods, St. Johns Lower School
Noah's Ark - painted collage
Grade Level:
Second Grade


Everything is painted then collaged. It is all paper. Mural is 3'x8' (91 x 244 cm) long and will be displayed in the admission's office under Plexiglas The librarian read the story to them and showed them 3 different illustrator's approaches to the topic. One was beautifully realistic, one whimsical (by Lucy Cousins), and then Barbara Reid's Clay illustration book on Noah's Ark.. Linda divided up jobs by class. The first group painted the ocean and cut it out, painted the sky, the rock, clouds, dove, and water creatures. The second group made the ark, the family, and the creatures on the ark. The third group made the land creatures. Linda had lists of animals for them so they could check off the ones they wanted to do with their name so it would not be duplicated. If any animals they wanted to do were left off, they could add them. In the end, it was lots of little jobs that added up to one big exciting mural. It only took a week to do the whole thing. They are so proud of it. See details below (Click images for larger views).


This is a good way to teach about religions/beliefs. Many cultures have a story of a Great Flood. Read some of these stories, too. Be careful not to call the stories of other cultures myths. Those people believed their story to be true just as many believe the story about Noah to be true. Get students thinking about this story.


mural mural mural


"By the Sea" - Mural by Linda Woods' Students
Fifth grade


mural      mural     mural
Click images for larger views


This mural was done with 5th graders and ended up in the blood donation center at Texas Children's Hospital. Mural is cut paper collage and tempera paint. It is displayed under Plexiglas.


Submitted by: Becky Burch
Rainforest and Desert Mural


rousseau mural   rousseau rousseau
Drawing on wall Rainforest in progress Tiger detail
Click image for larger views


Becky's students did 2 murals -- a desert and a rainforest, at opposite ends of the school, in the stairway. These pictures above are of the rainforest.

Becky says this has to be the most fun project she ever did - even though it was quite an undertaking.  It took all year to complete both murals, plus the time we put into raising the money for supplies beforehand.  It was worth it, though -- once businesses saw that they had a good program, they were interested in sponsoring more big projects. See photos [Archive]

Submitted by Michal Austin
Community Mural


tile mural


muralFrom Michal: I have done two community murals - the first one I took several kids (mainly whichever local kids showed up and wanted to help paint) and we painted figures of kids playing baseball on the concession stand wall. This was several years ago, painted on concrete blocks, and painted with enamel paint. It still looks pretty good, even though I didn't seal it with anything and it's at least 12 years old. (See mural on the left)

The second one (shown above) was a community project done to unite two communities. I asked everyone from pre-schoolers to senior citizens to create a tile using paint pens. Some just signed their name, while others were very elaborate. It covers up an ugly orange brick wall as you walk into the high school (our colors are red & black)


Mural Artists

Eric Grope Murals - Illusion of perspective space. Artist from Seattle, Washington.



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