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The Big Picture Handouts

Page history last edited by Carol Broos 12 years, 11 months ago



 Please visit the website with the final product.







  • Students began this yearlong project by watching “The Pageant of the Arts,”video, a fifth grade presentation about famous artists at McGaugh School in Seal Beach, California. 
  • Each of our sixth grade mixed-media groups then selected an artist to research. 
  • The research included the artist’s life, focusing on a decade during his/her life --  culture, historical events, music, art and dance.
  • Each group worked independently of the others and did not see what the other groups had produced until rehearsal time.
  • Students worked cooperatively to produce larger than life size copies of  selected works of art by the artists they chose (Hokusai, Stuart Davis, Joan Miro). 
  • These murals were used as backdrops for the final theater performances including  music, dance, creative writing and technology. 
  • Students learned the importance of connecting all of the fine arts during a particular time in the world.



  • Middle school students are very original, individualistic and imaginative. 
  • They enjoy working in small groups and making decisions.  Teachers are facilitators.
  • Students began by brainstorming ideas for their performances.  They agreed that each performance would include a mural backdrop interpreting a selected artwork by the artist. 
  • The painting selected by the group determined the historical period to be researched. 
  • Students developed a keen sense of relating history and the fine arts.  “The Big Picture” culminated with two performances. 
  • Students, parents, and community members were invited to this fine arts experience.



  • Each group met at a different time of the day (twice weekly for forty-five minute classes). 
  • One class period was used for preparation and painting the murals. 
  • The other class period was used for research on the selected artists. 
  • There was on-going dialog among students as they made creative decisions for their presentations. 
  • Each group concentrated on an important decade during their artist’s life.  They listened to music from the decade and selected a song. 
  • They researched popular dances and theater arts from the decade and designed an original dance for the music. 
  • Clothing styles from the decade were researched and students made costumes. 
  • They wrote stories/dialogues about the artists. 
  • Short videos with clips of interesting events occurring during the decades were created. 
  • Students decided how they would incorporate all of these elements into their presentations.


  • In addition to the two teachers assigned to the mixed-media classes, two enrichment teachers volunteered to help when they were available.  Two mothers offered to shop for costume materials and other props.  The facilities manager offered to help with the construction of the backdrops. 
  • Following the performance, he permanently installed the three murals on walls chosen by the students.


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