Christina L. Winter
Visual Arts/Social Studies
Third grade, but can be adapted to fit any grade level.
One hour
Visual arts lesson which enables students to create a classroom Sand Painting Mural which is comprised of individually designed pieces. This lesson focuses on line, shape and color, as well as the history of Native American culture.
Creative Expression - Students will design and create their own Sand Painting on medium grade sand paper using a black crayon and two different colored pastel crayons.
Historical and Cultural Context - Students will research Native American Sand Painting techniques and include at least one technique they have learned into their own piece.
This activity expands on a Social Studies lesson of Native Americans through the use of visual arts. By creating individual Sand Paintings and a mural, each student will be able to personally relate with and experience this aspect of the Native American culture.
Native Americans - Formerly referred to as Indians, these are the people who inhabited (and inhabit) America before it was settled by white men.
Sand Painting - A ceremonial painting of the world which is offered to the Gods on special occasions such as weddings, funerals, births, etc.
Midpoint - The point that lies in the middle.
Line - The boundary between two points.
One piece of medium grade sand paper cut into 10"x10" pieces for each student.
Several black crayons and two different color pastel crayons (everyone should use the same two colors; oil pastels can be substituted for crayons). Make sure to have a large space available on the wall for the mural.
Both direct instruction and guided discovery will be used.

This activity is best incorporated into a Native American unit. Discuss the meaning, importance, and traditions associated with Sand Paintings. Use any videos, pictures, books or posters available for examples. Compare and contrast the different techniques (line, shape, color, texture, and mood) of several examples. Brainstorm holidays and ceremonies which might warrent a Sand Painting.
Teacher will discuss midpoints (having the midpoints already marked on the sand paper is optional) and the teachniques of Sand Painting. A square has four midpoints which can be found by locating the center point along the edge of the square between the corners. If connected, these four midpoints should make a diamond within the square. Students will first decide individually which ceremony they are going to depict in their Sand Painting. (Each student can do a different ceremony if desired and it is appropriate.) Then they will pencil in lines connecting the midpoints in any fashion. The only place where the lines should touch the edge of the sand paper is at the midpoints. Then the students will trace over their lines with a thick, black crayon. Finally the students will decorate their Sand Paintings using the two pastel crayons provided, making sure to leave some of the sand paper uncolored. Be sure that each student uses the same two colored crayons so that the mural will be uniform. Students' pieces must show at least one technique used in an original Native American Sand Painting. Be sure to have them write their name or initials on the back.
When all students have completed their individual pieces, have them organize their mural on the wall using tape in any fashion that they choose, and then discuss their individual and group results. The idea is to connect the pieces using the midpoints and colors as guidelines, but allow the students the opportunity to decide for themselves how they will arrange it. Be sure to ask the students questions which prompt them to explain what they learned about Sand Paintings and the different techniques.
Teacher's evaluation will be based upon whether or not the student used the black crayon and two different pastels colors appropriately, and if at least one technique from an original Native American Sand Painting was incorporated into the work.
Once the mural has been constructed, have one person from each group gather all of the crayons and put them in a plastic container on the counter. If there are any extra pieces of sand paper, have the student's place them next to the crayons on the counter.
Lark Vickers, "Sand Painting" lesson plan.
Cris Guenter, "Piece Mural" lesson plan.