Space Invader (3rd)

Before I begin describing this project I need to give a HUGE shout out to Mollie from 'Art with Ms. K' for giving me the basis for this absolutely AWESOME project! If you don't already follow her blog.. you should definitely check it out! :)

Before beginning this project I gave my lovely 3rd graders a pretest to see what they already knew about complementary colors (not much).
Afterwards we began by looking at the artwork of contemporary French street artist 'Invader' (his alias). Invader creates mosaics using small square tiles that are inspired by the 1978 arcade game 'Space Invader'. Because of the game's low-resolution graphics, the characters in it appeared to be very pixelated... so they were a natural fit for mosaic work!

*We also watched the AWESOME video below created by Patrick Jean. YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE IT. 

Invader travels all over the world to install his mosaics in places where people will see them (for example the HOLLYWOOD sign in California), then afterwards posts his "invasion" locations online in the form of maps that he sells from his website.
After viewing his artwork, we discussed the issues concerning street art (semi/totally illegal) and their impressions of it. We also discussed Invader's personal style and approach to his artwork.

Then I had my 3rd graders begin lining their grids so they could create their own invader mosaics.
I have to give serious credit to Mollie who somehow amazing got her 3rd graders to completely measure and line their own grids (which is like an unheard of task)! I remember student teaching in a middle school and my 8th graders couldn't even do it without massively struggling!!
To prevent a lot of headaches and frustration (from both myself and my students), I decided to give my kids a sheet of paper with 1" tick marks already mapped on it. All they had to do was line the tick marks up together with their rulers and then draw the lines. I am INCREDIBLY happy that I did it this way! I still had many students who I had to hover over to get them through this step.
After students finished lining their grids, they drew the contour line of their own invader character on their grid to help map out their spaces.
Then we got talking about complementary colors schemes! Complementary colors schemes are great because they produce a large amount of contrast, so they would really make our artwork pop!
Students selected one complementary colors scheme, then set to work gluing down 1"x1" squares of construction paper that I had already pre-cut and put into little bowls (I'm pretty sure I killed my back hunching over my cutting board for like 30 minutes doing this!).
Once they were finished, they cut out the remaining white border from there paper and mounted their artwork on a black piece of construction paper.

I also had them do a little write-up for there work which asked them what their pixel monster's name was, what complementary color scheme they used, how many square "tiles" their invaders were made up of, and then had them write the fractions for each color. For example, if they used 25 red squares, their fraction would have been 25/70 (70 is the total number of squares altogether).
It was just a simple way I could combine some more math skills with the lesson (as if learning how to use a ruler wasn't enough!!). ;)

Last night teachers at my school had to stay late for curriculum night, so I thought that would be the perfect opportunity for me to hang up their artwork!

In the beginning of our 3rd grade hall I hung up my lesson information (what we did writeup, standards, essential questions, vocabulary) and then randomly hung up all their artwork throughout the hallway (to further communicate the idea of street art).

Today when I saw that particular class of third graders in the hallway, they were telling me how absolutely ecstatic they were to come in this morning to find their artwork hanging up throughout the hallways (just like street art)!
Best scavenger hunt ever! 
Ahhh I love being an art teacher! :)

If you'd like to get this lesson with the PowerPoint and all the necessary resources, check out my store!

Also available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!


  1. Great lesson!!! Thanks for sharing it.

  2. These are splendid! And your display is awesome -- I will be stealing that idea from you. Measuring was crazy difficult but I think it helped that we did this project around CRCT testing time so the kids were pretty sharp with math skills. I'm so glad this lesson went well with your kiddos :)