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The Murals of Diego Rivera

Discover the value of social commentary as you turn a newspaper story into original artwork similar to Diego Rivera's portraits in murals.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Provide students with the opportunity to view and discuss the murals of Diego Rivera, a famous Mexican muralist as a whole class activity. Ask them to describe the imagery Rivera used and the social/historical significance of the portraits he painted in his murals. Students compare and contrast Rivera's murals to contemporary murals (such as Philadelphia's Anti-Graffiti Network murals) or those in local areas. Identify similarities and differences in technique and subject matter.
    2. Ask each student to bring a human interest story from a newspaper to class. After swapping articles with a classmate, students imagine the people described in their article. Are they old or young? Happy or sad? What does their environment look like? Who are they with?
    3. On construction paper, use Crayola® Construction Paper Crayons to draw an interesting person that could be from the newspaper story. What do you imagine this person looks like? What might she or he be doing? Include details, such as clothing and facial expressions, that dramatically tell the story.
    4. Students write a sequel to the story just illustrated. What might happen next? Display illustrations and stories in a hallway mural.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

    LA: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

    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.

    SS: Identify examples of institutions and describe the interactions of people with institutions.

    SS: Explore factors that contribute to one's personal identity such as interests, capabilities, and perceptions.

    SS: Explore ways that language, art, music, belief systems, and other cultural elements may facilitate global understanding or lead to misunderstanding.

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

    VA: Integrate visual, spatial, and temporal concepts with content to communicate intended meaning in artworks.

    VA: Analyze, describe, and demonstrate how factors of time and place influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of art.

    VA: Describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with the visual arts.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Diego Rivera: The Detroit Industry Murals by Linda Banks Downs; Diego Rivera: An Artist for the People by Susan Goldman Rubin; Diego Rivera (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia

    Students read human interest stories from a local newspaper and illustrate each story using the characteristics of Diego Rivera's work. Incorporate the date of the story into the illustration. Organize the illustrations into a mural format for display on a classroom bulletin board.

    Encourage students to create a mural of opposites. For each sad story illustrated, crate a sequel that is happy. Include solutions to problems encountered in drawings.

    Students work in small groups to investigate the art of the Mayan and Aztec cultures. Consider if and how the artwork of these civilizations may have influences the artwork of Diego Rivera.


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