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Illumination Letters

Express yourself with Illuminated Letters! Decorate your initials with delicate layers of bright watercolor details.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Illuminated letters are hand-drawn, intricately decorated letters, usually the first letter in a book or chapter of a book. These are often found in books from the middle ages. Look at some examples of illuminated letters. What do the images and designs surrounding the letter tell you about the content of the story?
    2. On a sheet of heavy white paper or watercolor paper, students lightly sketch their first or last initial with Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils. Embellish the letter with small, personalized images and designs.
    3. Fill the letter and designs with bright colors using Crayola Washable Watercolors. Tape the edges of the paper down to the table or a sturdy piece of recycled cardboard. This will prevent the paper from wrinkling as it dries. When applying the watercolors, use more water to spread the color over a large area. Less water on the brush will give you a richer color and allow you more control over where the color settles.
    4. Allow paintings to dry completely then mount it on a sheet of brightly colored paper with clear adhesive tape. Share paintings with the class for everyone to admire!
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

    VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.

  • Adaptations

    Encourage students to create a pair or trio of Illuminated Letters, focusing on personal initials to provide insight into their interests, personal strengths, and future goals.

    Working in small groups or teams of two, students collaborate to compose an original chapter story. Students begin each new chapter and/or paragraph with an illuminated letter. Students prepare to present and read their original story to classmates.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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