Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sacrament Graffiti Walls

I originally posted about using Graffiti Walls as a teaching tool in this post.
Here are the tips I shared about creating Graffiti Walls:

1. Start with a large piece of paper.  It can begin on a table or floor, but then should be hung up and continued to be added to as more learning happens.
2. Group work is best.  The ideas and contributions of many students are better for a graffiti wall than just the work of one.
3. There isn't a plan- even from the teacher.  There is no "right" final graffiti wall.  It grows and changes as the learning continues, and represents important parts, new ideas, connections, etc.  Teaching even the same topic in the same way will result in very different final walls.
4. Layer, layer, layer.  Just like the ideas in our heads, the representations on a graffiti wall are not stand-alone, neatly organized, or perfect.  We start at the beginning of a new topic add information as understanding grows and changes.
5. Use both words and pictures.  Visual is key with a graffiti wall.  Pictures are important, but so are words.  However, the words that are chosen to be added should be fewer and boldly represented.

In the past, I had only used graffiti walls in relation to a literature unit or a read aloud book.  This year, I decided to try this technique as I taught about the seven Sacraments.

At the beginning of the year, I started with seven large sheets of bulletin board paper in seven different colors.  I wanted to have them hanging in our classroom all year so they could be added to as we learned more and more.  However, I don't have wall space for seven large posters, so decided to layer them.  I reinforced the paper with duct tape and punched holes in three spots along the top of each paper.  I then connected them all with binder rings and hung them from the cover over our radiators.  It would work just as well on a flipchart stand or sturdy clips on the wall.

When I first introduced the Graffiti Walls, I split the students into groups and had them lay a foundation of knowledge for each of the sacraments.  We hung them all up, and then waited to study each Sacrament individually.

As we studied each Sacrament, the kids then each added one or two artifacts to the Graffiti Wall about new things that they learned. 

Some of the items that we added included:
  • the definition of the Sacrament
  • Scripture verses about the Sacrament
  • hand drawn illustrations of the Sacrament
  • pictures cut from magazines/books/etc.
  • symbols of the Sacrament

We added all of those items, and then when we studied the next Sacrament, we flipped the Graffiti wall over and added more layers to that page. Throughout the year as we were working on religion projects or the kids were completing homework, it was normal to see them reference the Graffiti wall for something that they had added or some of the other collective knowledge that had been created by a classmate. 

At the very end of the year, I hung all seven walls in the hallway (the only place I had space for all of them at once) and the kids grabbed markers and got to add any last information.  They had to read over everything that had already been added and then could write or draw any additional info that they thought was missing based on out studies from the year.  It was a great wrap up activity and a review for the end of the year.

And here is the Baptism Graffiti Wall when they were all finished with it:
And the other six Sacraments:

Now, what to do with these great Graffiti Walls?  A year's worth of work, contributed to by an entire class?  I couldn't just throw them away, and I also wanted some way for the kids to remember the activity and the learning gained from it.

So, I took down the walls, layered them on top of each other, and cut through each layer.
I cut the walls in strips and then into smaller rectangles so that there would be enough of each for each student.  (I cut through the walls while they were upside down like this- it make it easier to cut through all of the hard work and detail.)
When I had divided them into enough for each student, I stapled the seven pages together and made a book with a piece of each Graffiti Wall.

I then surprised the student by saying that I had cut up their Graffiti Walls...and they were a little confused and unhappy.  When I pulled out the books and said that I had cut up the Graffiti Walls so that they could each keep a piece, they were super excited!  I randomly gave each student a book, and they loved flipping through them to identify what information had made it onto their pages.  We then attached their Graffiti Books into their Fulton Sheen Notebook.

It was a great activity, and one that I plan to try again next year! 


  1. What a great idea !!! I´ll do this next schoolyear with my religion classes. Maybe also with some different religious themes as I teach 11 classes. Please pray for "my" children. Next year will be the last year of religion courses in luxemburgish schools. You can´t imagine how much the students (and religion teachers) suffer under this situation ! For so many children the religion course was the only way to learn about God and their faith. I want to prepare as much books and papers that they can take at home just not to forget about God. So, the idea of your Graffiti Books will be a great gift for them ! Thank you and God bless you !

    1. Has it been permitted to teach religion in public schools in Luxembourg? What a challenging transition! My prayers are with you and your students as you do your best to prepare them for this change.