Activate Activism: Creating Our Mural, Part One

This lesson guides students through the ambitious project of executing a community-based mural.
Grade Level


At the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • experiment with a variety of artistic materials and techniques.
  • reflect on strategies for collaboratively approaching art.
  • convey community messages through a work of art.


Enduring Understandings:

  • A mural can convey a message, help build community, and be a source of pride. 
  • Working with others to create a work of art can be fun, and allows for the expression of many ideas. It can also be challenging when not everyone agrees with the ideas. That is why it is important to talk bout the challenges in advance and set rules for working together.
Essential Questions
  • What kinds of benefits might come from creating a community mural?
  • What is helpful and what is challenging about working with others to create a work of art?
  • pencils
  • paint
  • long, mural paper
  • other art materials (optional)

This lesson is part of the series Art and Activism.


activism [ak-ti-viz-uhm] (noun)  intentional actions geared toward creating change  

community [kuh-myoo-ni-tee] (noun)  a group of people living in the same area, such as a town or city 

mural [myoo-ruhl] (noun)  a large painting made on a wall 



1. Tell students that the class is going to work together to create a community artwork. If you haven’t done so in previous lessons, explain what a mural is, then brainstorm ideas about one that would reflect ideas and important elements in their community. Review materials you might use to create your mural. (You can find further ideas for brainstorming and executing a mural in this lesson from the series.) 

2. If you and the class have been given the opportunity to create a wall mural, bring the class to where the mural will be located. If the mural will be on paper, provide long paper and any other art materials the class has decided to use. 

3. After the class has decided on the broad outlines of its mural, encourage students to sketch before they paint or do any other more permanent art. Allow students to talk to one another as they work. Circulate to attend to their conversation as well as their artistic technique as they begin work on their activist mural. 

4.  At the end of the design period, encourage students to talk about their experience. Ask them what was fun and what was more challenging. Come up with a plan for pacing themselves during the next lesson — and for addressing or thinking through any challenges they are encountering. 

5.  Artists usually start with a plan, but that doesn’t mean they can’t change their mind as they move forward. When students leave, encourage them to think about the work they did during this lesson and set goals for themselves as both artists and activists for the next work period. Before they begin working again, give them a chance to share their thought processes as well as their new goals.

Common Core State Standards: SL.1, SL.2, SL.3, SL.4

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