MY CANADA 150 – Colour, Symbolism, Balance

Students use oil pastels on overhead transparency to create a card that contains their reflections about Canada, and a goal for the future.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 4 to Grade 8


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts


balance colour contrast symbol


Crayola Oil Pastels, 16 Count Crayola Take Note Markers - Black Crayola Washable No-Run School Glue Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Construction Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Overhead Transparencies - 14 cm x 21.5 cm (5 ½" x 8 ½") Rulers Pencils Paper Towels

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MY CANADA 150 – Colour, Symbolism, Balance - Step One

Step One

  1. Draw a rectangle the same size as the transparency on a piece of drawing paper. 
  2. Draw your picture inside the rectangle.
    - Include the words 'My Canada 150'.
    - Include a symbol that represents Canada to you.
    - Include a picture of yourself.
  3. Outline your drawing with a black fine line marker.
MY CANADA 150 – Colour, Symbolism, Balance - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Place the drawing face down on top of another piece of white paper. This will make it easier to see the drawing through the paper.
  2. Trace the drawing onto the back of the paper.
MY CANADA 150 – Colour, Symbolism, Balance - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Place the overhead transparency on top of the reversed drawing.
  2. Use a Crayola Fabric Marker to trace the drawing onto the overhead transparency.
MY CANADA 150 – Colour, Symbolism, Balance - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Place the drawing marker side up.
  2. Use oil pastels to colour the drawing.
    - Use a small piece of paper towel or tissue to clean the tip of the oil pastel if it picks up other colours.
MY CANADA 150 – Colour, Symbolism, Balance - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Place the drawing, oil pastel side down, on different colours of construction paper until you find the colour that looks best.
  2. Fold the construction paper in half, short end to short end.
  3. Place a small drop of glue on each corner of the oil pastel side of the drawing.
  4. Place the drawing on top of the construction paper and glue it into place.
  5. Use the card to write about:
    - What Canada means to you and why.
    - A goal for the future and why this is important to you.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • use oil pastels to draw a simple design;
  • create a symbolic card for a specific purpose;
  • create a balanced composition;
  • reflect on and write about what Canada means to them;
  • set a personal goal for the future; 
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.


Have students:

  • use the Exploring Oil Pastels lessons available on this website to experiment with oil pastel techniques;
  • apply what they learn by drawing pictures based on a theme they are studying;
  • share their work with their peers.


  1. Download and display the Colour and Contrast posters  available on this website.
  2. Cut overhead transparencies (the 'write on' type) into half sheets.
  3. Download images of Canadian symbols from the Internet, for example,
    Maple Leaf
    Leaf Symbol
    Inuksuk Symbol
    Beaver Symbol
    Moose Symbol
    Hockey Symbol
  4. Gather and make available books about Canada and Canadian symbols, for example, A Northern Alphabet, by Ted Harrison The Inuksuk Book, by Mary Wallace; An Inuksuk Means Welcome, by Mary Wallace; Z Is For Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet, by Matt Napier; ABC of Canada, by Kim Bellefontaine; Oh Canada!, by Per-Henrik Gürth; M Is For Moose: A Charles Pachter Alphabet, by Charles Pachter; Canada Counts: A Charles Pachter Counting Book, by Charles Pachter.
  5. If possible, gather enough small mirrors for each student to have one.
  6. You may want to provide students with the Proportions of the Face worksheet available on this website.
  7. Prior to this lesson you may want to teach the lesson How to Draw the Face available on this website.


  1. Read one of the picture books about Canada and discuss how the illustrator chose images to represent ideas and how they represent Canada.  
  2. Explain that these are cultural symbols. Cultural symbols are found in countries all around the world. They represent something that people in that country feel is important about the country, or part of the country.
  3. Brainstorm as a class, symbols that people in Canada find meaningful, for example,
    - Inuksuk
    - Beaver
    - Maple Leaf
    - Moose
    - Hockey
    - Polar Bear
    - Canadian Flag
  4. Discuss why these symbols are used to represent Canada and what they mean.
  5. Show students some images comparing actual objects with the way artists have changed them into symbols, for example, the maple leaf. Discuss how they are different and how they are the same, for example,
    - images of symbols are often flat, simple shapes
    - images of symbols are easy to recognize
    - images of symbols often use symmetry in the design
  6. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Use oil pastels to draw a simple design.
  2. Create a symbolic card for a specific purpose.
  3. Create a balanced composition.
  4. Reflect on, and write about what Canada means to you.
  5. Set a personal goal for the future.
  6. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a balanced design 
    - used bright and strong colours 

    - used colours to create contrast
    - included a Canadian symbol
    - included the words 'My Canada 150'
    - included a self-portrait
    - kept the drawing is in good condition
  3. Demonstrate the technique as you 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 groups of about 6.
  2. Ask them to share thoughts about the works.
  3. During the discussion include references to: 
     Colour – How does the colour create contrast?
    -  Design – How does the design suit the purpose of the card?
    -  Technical Accomplishment – How does attention to detail contribute to the overall effect of the design?
  4. Ask volunteers to share some ideas with the whole class.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their designs – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the design, 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 – MyCanada_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – MyCanada_self-assessment.pdf)