Public art can be informative, inspiring and empowering for both artists and audiences. A community puzzle mural has the power to spark dialogue around important issues among teachers, students, families, staff and visitors. The collaborative task produces a final product that combines many individual visions.
- Secure space for mural, preferably in a public space with foot traffic so many people can admire and interact with the work.
- Assess resources for creating and decorating large cardboard or paper puzzle pieces.
- Provide examples of community murals and public artworks from public arts programs. If possible, take students on a “virtual tour” of murals through the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program website.
- Determine student groupings. Students can work as a whole class or be grouped by interest in certain topics or messages. For poster campaigns, students can work individually, in partnerships or in small groups.
- Adapt the sample rubric into a visual checklist. Refer to the rubric to define expectations and components of a community puzzle mural before students begin working. Define expectations for equitable collaboration.
- Verbally introduce students to the preparatory steps included in the Do Something Planning Guide. Instruct them in the process of mapping the steps necessary to prepare a community puzzle mural.
- As a class, generate puzzle mural content and messages that connect to central text themes. Murals should incorporate information and positive social messages to heighten awareness and action. Positive messages may relate to acceptance, inclusion, diversity, equity or justice depending on the central text and the interests of the group.
- Students should work together to create their designs on large, cut-out puzzle pieces provided to each group.
- After completing their puzzle pieces, direct students to assemble the pieces to form a large puzzle mural.
- Arrange a “launch” celebration to unveil student's artwork. Consider including:
- Other classes
- Other grades
- Other members of school community
- Consider how viewers can interact with the piece. For example, a “reaction box” can be placed near the mural so people can leave comments, connections and questions for the artists. Invite visitors to see and/or comment on bulletin board. Consider including:
Facilitate a class discussion or assign a journal entry about how the mural reflected central text themes and impacted the community. Some suggested reflection questions:
- What topic or theme from the central text was included in your mural or poster campaign?
- What important message did your mural or poster campaign express to your audience?
English language learners
A community puzzle mural gives students an assessment option that is creative, visually appealing and not solely language-based. Students can express their ideas and feelings through their artwork. This project focuses on linguistic, interpersonal spatial/artistic, and kinesthetic learning modalities.
Connection to anti-bias education
In history and today, large-scale public art has been used in communities to raise issues and advocate for social change. By creating a community mural, students work together to spread awareness, demonstrating a commitment to social action. The puzzle element is a particularly powerful visual representation of the ways that people and issues are interconnected within a community.