Back to School Collaborative Mural 2017

Today I wrapped up week #3 of school! Man oh man - do I miss the summer!
Waking up at 5:15am every morning just isn't really my cup of tea..

This year my school had our students rotate through all 8 discovery (specials) classes during the first 8 days of school (normally we see them for a few days at a time). This was so that our students could meet all of their discovery teachers.. and get to see all of our classrooms. 
Last year I went 1 1/2  months before seeing some of my rotations, so this was a welcomed change!
So during the first 8 days of school I introduced myself, went over my classroom rules, some procedures, and assigned seats for 48 separate classes! 
After all the boring introductory stuff, I also had my 2nd-5th grade students work on a collaborative mural project. This lesson comes from Don at Shine Brite Zamorano!

We started by looking at the artist Libs Elliot. I showed students some examples of her work and then we briefly talked about how she was able to simultaneously create a sense of unity and variety in her artwork. After looking at some of her pieces, we landed on a slide which showed the GORGEOUS mural that Don had his students make, then I explained what we were going to do!
Students were instructed to create a square patch with construction paper, that would be added to a nearly school-wide collaborative mural project inspired by the work of Libs Elliot.
At each of my tables I put a basket filled with 6"x6" squares, large
triangles (cut from 6"x6" squares), and 3"x3" squares in a number of different colors (colors were switched out for each rotation). Students were told they needed one large square, one large triangle, and two small squares (which could be cut into smaller triangles) - then the rest was up to them!

I used the following schedule for my color rotations:
Rotation 1- Scarlet, Magenta, White
Rotation 2- Red, Scarlet, Orange (some), White
Rotation 3- Orange, Gold, Red (some), White
Rotation 4- Gold, Yellow, Light Yellow, Orange (some), White
Rotation 5- Light Yellow, Hot Lime, Holiday Green (some), White
Rotation 6- Hot Lime, Holiday Green, Turquoise, White
Rotation 7- Turquoise, Royal Blue, Sky Blue, White
Rotation 8- Royal Blue, Purple, Lilac, White

I gotta be honest - the prep work for this one was INTENSE.. but the results are STUNNING!

For this project (and really all my other projects), we used Tru-Ray Sulphite Construction Paper. If you haven't used it before - you haven't been living! Their paper comes in super vibrant colors AND it doesn't fade (which means this display will be up for a while)!

To hang, I glued down the squares onto sheets of butcher paper, and then used packing tape and command strips to attach it to the wall. Command strips were ESSENTIAL to getting this to stay up!!
The other specials teachers and I think that there is some kind of conspiracy going on in which the county is spraying something on our walls to make sure no tape sticks to it. I really think we're on to something!


  1. This does look amazing! Just wondering how many students did this, I have about 800 and thinking maybe I could pull this off?

    1. I have about 1,200 students.. but I only did this with 2nd-5th grade. It's about 700 squares. :)

  2. You're description is ever so helpful! I've been teaching for 32 years and I'm always looking for something new to start the year with. This will be my inspiration. Thank you so much!

  3. Beautiful idea! Love this. I added a link for your blog on mine!
    Miss Young, Carroll Elementary School

  4. Wow! I love this project. Thanks for the details. That really helps!!!

  5. Wow! This is wonderful! Thanks for posting such detailed instructions.

  6. I want to hear more about how you manage 1200 students, names, grades, organizing, etc... I have 900 and going crazy.

  7. Awesome project! Thank you for the idea!

  8. Quick question....were all your 6x6 squares white?

  9. Hi. I really love this. I was thinking of doing this for my first week back. I have about 450 students. Do you think the results would be as dynamic with half the students? Did everyone start with a white square? Did you let students place them on the overall layout or did you do that yourself? I appreciate any advice. I start in one week! Thanks!!

    1. -I think it would still be a great display - but if you're really worried about it you could always have them make 2 squares.
      -No they didn't all start with a white square (though it was an option).
      -I placed the squares together myself. :)

  10. Spectacular vision and unity concept! I love expanding on an artist's goals with kids as well:) Have a great year!

  11. Absolutely beautiful! This will be a great project to do as an on-a-cart-Covid-Art teacher! Easy to transport, easy to pass out pieces, easy to do in 1/2 hr art class with littles! Thank you!