CANADIAN DREAMS – Rule of Thirds, Canada 150

Students use the rule of thirds to compose a mixed media poster that communicates their feelings about Canada and their dreams for the future.

Required Time

160 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 4 to Grade 9


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts


balance elements of design mixed media rule of thirds symbol


Watercolour Paints Paint Brushes Watercolour Paper Painters Masking Tape Glue Scissors Plastic Placemats Paper Towels Fine Line Markers Tempera Paint Salt

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CANADIAN DREAMS – Rule of Thirds, Canada 150 - Step One

Step One

  1. Work with your paper in the horizontal (landscape) position.
  2. Make 4 thumbnail sketches
  3. Draw the rule of thirds grid inside each rectangle before beginning your sketch. 
  4. Make sure your dominant element is located within one of the 4 intersecting points on the grid.
  5. Think about how you will be holding your flag and what symbols you can use to represent your dreams.
CANADIAN DREAMS – Rule of Thirds, Canada 150 - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Work with a partner.
  2. Strike the pose you want to use in your poster.
  3. Have your partner take the picture with a device.
  4. Convert the picture to black and white.
  5. Print the picture in the size you plan to use in your composition.
CANADIAN DREAMS – Rule of Thirds, Canada 150 - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Tape a piece of watercolour paper to a plastic mat.
  2. Use one long strip of painter's tape for each side.
  3. The tape will leave a white border around the finished painting when you remove it.
  4. Moisten the watercolour paints by dropping a brush load of water on each colour.
  5. Fill the paper with colour.
CANADIAN DREAMS – Rule of Thirds, Canada 150 - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Make sure the paint is still wet.
  2. Sprinkle salt over the wet paint.
CANADIAN DREAMS – Rule of Thirds, Canada 150 - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Set the painting aside to dry.
  2. Cut out your picture.
  3. Start finding and cutting out letters to spell Canada 150.
CANADIAN DREAMS – Rule of Thirds, Canada 150 - Step Six

Step Six

  1. When the painting is dry, rub off all the salt.
CANADIAN DREAMS – Rule of Thirds, Canada 150 - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Start playing with your composition.
  2. Cut out more letters if the ones you chose are not working.
  3. Use other mediums to add details.
  4. Do not glue anything down until you have everything worked out.
CANADIAN DREAMS – Rule of Thirds, Canada 150 - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. When you are happy with the composition carefully glue everything down.
  2. Draw details after you have glued everything in place.
  3. When you are completely finished gently remove the tape.
CANADIAN DREAMS – Rule of Thirds, Canada 150 - Step Nine

Step Nine

  1. Look at your poster with fresh eyes.
    What does it tell us about how you feel about Canada?
    - What does it tell us about your dreams?
    - What else does it tell us?

Learning Goals

Students will:

  1. Create a mixed media poster to communicate their feelings about Canada and their dreams for the future;
  2. Use watercolour techniques, cut out letters, the Canadian flag and other media of their choice;
  3. Include a black and white photograph of themselves;
  4. Identify the reasons for their design choices;
  5. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; and
  6. Support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  1. Trade posters with a partner.
  2. Write an interpretation of the poster, saying what the poster means to them and what they see that makes them say that.
  3. Read each other's interpretations and discuss how the meanings are the same and/or different than the creators intended.
  4. Discuss what they learned about each other, and media texts by doing this activity.


  1. Prior to this lesson introduce students to the rule of thirds. You may want to use the lesson available on this website.
    Rule of Thirds
  2. View the CBC's Canada 150 site for on overview of interesting facts about Canada.
    Canada is Celebrating
  3. Download posters from the Internet, for example,
  4. Review or introduce the idea that media texts are created by people who make choices.
  5. View samples of posters with students and spend some time asking questions about them, for example,
    - Who do you think created this poster?
    - Who is the message meant for?
    - What do you see that makes you say that?
    - What attracts your attention in this poster? Why?
    - What is the overt message in this poster? What is the implied message?
    - Who might respond to this message differently from you? Why?
    - What choices has the designer of the poster made? 
  6. Preview the Heritage Minute video – Expo 67
    Expo 67


  1. Discuss the idea of celebrating Canada's 150th birthday.
    - Why is it important to mark the date?
    - What kinds of things might people do?
    - What was done in the past for Canada's 100th birthday?
  2. View the Expo 67 Heritage Minute with students and discuss how having a dream can lead to accomplishing significant things.
  3. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a mixed media poster to communicate your feelings about Canada and your dreams for the future.
  2. Use watercolour techniques, cut out letters, the Canadian flag and other media of your choice.
  3. Include a black and white photograph of yourself.
  4. Identify the reasons for your design choices.
  5. Demonstrate technical accomplishment.
  6. 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,
    - effective use of the elements of design to communicate a message
    - visual message is clear and accurate
    - creative use of cut out letters and a black and white photograph
    - effective use of watercolour technique
    - the composition is balanced
    - accurate use of the rule of thirds  
    - able to explain the reasons for design choices
    - paper in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - Share their work and interpret the messages on the posters.
    - Discuss the things that are especially effective in the design of the posters and why.

    - Talk about what they found difficult and what they found easy to do.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask students to tell how they felt about doing this project.


  1. Observe students as they work  – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the art works – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – Dreams_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – Dreams_self-assessment.pdf)