Sunday, September 9, 2012

Let's Make This Year a Masterpiece

Our first project of the year took on colossal proportions! In the very first week of school, we were able to produce six large-scale, gorgeous murals. I had seen these murals available at Art Projects for Kids and thought they would be great to keep up all year to help add some classy modern art to the beige school hallways. I would probably never do this as an actual project, but I thought it was a perfect fit for a first day ice breaker and helped to get the ball rolling as we dug into some pretty juicy bits of art history.
I chose a different masterpiece for each grade level. The murals come in about 24-30 pages so I had to cut each of the pages in fourths to have enough for each student. I put the pieces in order and wrote their sequence number on the back. 

This involved many hours of puzzle piece labeling. It was sort of exhausting, but luckily my cat apprentice, Alfie, was there to lend a paw. He thought laying on my neatly arranged pieces and making them not so neatly arranged would be of great help! He did a great job.

Each student received a tiny puzzle piece of the mural and used oil pastels to color the piece in the style/color/pattern of their choice. I started referring to this project as “Masterpiece Makeover” and I advised the students if each of them focused on making their individual piece a masterpiece on its own, then we could potentially multiple the awesomeness of the original masterpiece by 120! This seemed to get them pretty revved up.

We talked about how the definition of a masterpiece is different for different people. If students were done early, I asked them to write their personal definition of what makes a masterpiece on a piece of white paper. I got some very interesting results including:

  • "A masterpiece is a picture by anyone who tried their hardest." --4th Grade Artist
  • "A masterpiece to me is hard work." -- 5th Grade Artist
  • "A masterpiece is a colorful, magical, great piece of art." --3rd Grade Artist
  • "A masterpiece is a piece of artwork that makes the artist feel proud." -- 5th Grade Artist
  • "A masterpiece is a piece artwork that belongs in a museum." --4th Grade Artist
  • "A masterpiece is a time valued piece of art that is irreplaceable. --5th Grade Artist

The “Masterpiece Makeover” was a bit too much for my youngest learners, the Kindergarteners. Their first day consisted of a train tour around the art room to get them acquainted with the layout and parts of the room and proper procedures. I kept things very simple for them by asking them to use the crayons to draw me a mini masterpiece of their very favorite thing to draw. This helped me to get to know their individual personalities a bit. We rounded out the class with a tidbit of glue practice with the help of this “Ode to Proper Glue Usage” poem I found on Pinterest.


  1. I love your beginning of the year projects! What a great idea. I died when I saw this giant glue bottle it is amazing I might have to barrow that poem.

    1. Thanks, Mizz D. I appreciate your super kind words. :) Are you an art blogger?

  2. Our cats look alike! And my ollie occasionally appears in my craft posts. I'm following now...thanks to Pat for introducing you to me!!