ALL ABOUT ME – Balance, Symbolism, Movement

Students use marker and coloured pencils to create a silhouette filled with symbols representing themselves.

Required Time

70 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 4 to Grade 9


Language Arts
Visual Arts


balance colour movement shape silhouette symbol


Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Coloured Pencils - 24 Count Crayola Construction Paper - Black - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Fine Line Markers - Black Crayola Scissors Crayola Washable Glue Sticks Ppencils

Shop Crayola Products


ALL ABOUT ME – Balance, Symbolism, Movement - Step One

Step One

  1. Brainstorm 10-15 things about yourself.
ALL ABOUT ME – Balance, Symbolism, Movement - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Draw the outline of your profile on a piece of Crayola Marker & Watercolour paper. 
    - Use an overhead projector (if one is available) to cast a shadow of your profile.
    - Work with a partner to trace each other's profile.
  2. Use a pencil to fill your shape with drawings that represent the ideas on your brainstorming list.
  3. Each picture is a symbol of something that is important to you.
  4. Focus on the positive and negative spaces as you balance where you place each object.
  5. Make sure the images lead your eye through the space.
ALL ABOUT ME – Balance, Symbolism, Movement - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Outline all the drawings with black fine line marker. 
  2. Colour the objects with Crayola oloured pencils.
  3. Colour negative space with one or a variety of strong colours to make the objects stand out. 
ALL ABOUT ME – Balance, Symbolism, Movement - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Cut out the silhouette.
  2. Glue it to a piece of black construction paper.
  3. View your work with fresh eyes.
    - What does it tell people about you?
    - How do the colours affect the overall design?
    - What do you like best about your work? Why?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a symbolic self-portrait using markers and coloured pencils;
  • use contrast to create emphasis;
  • use balance and space to move the viewer's eye through the composition;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the artworks.


Have students:

  • research a biography of a famous Canadian they admire such as,
    - Terry Fox
    - Wayne Gretzky
    ​- Roberta Bondar
  • create a visual biography of the person using various symbols to represent key ideas about the person;
  • share their artwork with others and explain how the symbols represent their famous Canadian.


  1. Prior to this lesson introduce the idea of symbolism and how certain shapes may have some universal meanings, for example,
    - Heart – love, togetherness, charity, compassion
    - Circle – eternity, it has no beginning or end, wholeness, perfection, heaven or sky
    - Rainbow – hope, peace, unity of all life, coming together of all people, bridge to heaven
    - Spiral – creation, growth, immortality, inner power
    - Star – gods and goddesses, hope, military rank and honour, goodness
    - Sun – masculine in some cultures (Asian), feminine in others (First Nations), power, divine, health
    - Beehive (Bees) - hard work, wisdom, obedience, working for pleasure
    - Butterfly – fire, joy, long life, transformation, summer
    - Palette – art, painter
    - Key – wealth, freedom, knowledge
    - Square – earth, stability, honesty, goodness
  2. Discuss sports team logos and the school symbols. 
  3. Gather and make available books about symbolism, for example, The Memory String, by Eve Bunting; The Wretched Stone, by Chris Van Allsburg; The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson; Those Shoes, by Maribeth Boelts; and The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi.


  1. Conduct a read-aloud with a picture book about identity such as The Name Jar focussing on things that make each person special and unique.
  2. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a symbolic self-portrait using markers and coloured pencils.
  2. Use contrast to create emphasis.
  3. Use balance and space to move the viewer's eye through the composition.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - worked with a partner to draw an outline of my profile
    - created symbols that represent me
    - used strong colour to create contrast so objects stand out
    - placed objects within the space so they are balanced and move the eye through the design
    - used colour pencil techniques effectively
    - kept the paper in good condition
  3. Demonstrate how to trace a silhouette using an overhead projector.
  4. Have each student pair up and trace one another using the overhead projector.
  5. Observe students as they work. 
  6. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once all the drawings are complete display them for a group discussion. Ask students to:
    Look closely at the drawings.
    - Choose one and guess who it represents. 
    - What do you see that makes you say that?
  2. Once a student has guessed the name of the person who created the silhouette and discussed it, ask the student who made the drawing to speak about his/her work.
  3. During the discussion include references to:
    symbolism – What do the images tell us about the person?
    - movement – How does the placement of objects move the viewer's eye through the design? 
    - balance – How does the placement of objects balance the design?


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their self-portraits – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the self-portraits, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - Silhouette_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - Silhouette_self-assessment.pdf)