SNAIL MAIL – Creating a Message Holder

Students create a paper plate message holder and decorate it using crayon resist technique.

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Kindergarten to Grade 3


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts


bodkin colour contrast crayon resist emphasis line mail pattern


Paper Plates Yarn Hole Punch Water Containers Paper Towels Bodkins Crayons Watercolour Paints Ruler Paint Brushes

Shop Crayola Products


SNAIL MAIL – Creating a Message Holder - Step One

Step One

Mark the centre of the plate. Draw a straight line through it from one side of the plate to the other to divide the plate in half. 

SNAIL MAIL – Creating a Message Holder - Step Two

Step Two

Cut along the line to cut the plate in half.

SNAIL MAIL – Creating a Message Holder - Step Three

Step Three

Measure 2 cm spaces around the outer edge of 1 full plate and 1 half plate.

SNAIL MAIL – Creating a Message Holder - Step Four

Step Four

Use a hole punch to make holes at each mark.

SNAIL MAIL – Creating a Message Holder - Step Five

Step Five

Turn the 1/2 plate over and colour a design using crayons. Press hard to get lots of colour on the cardboard surface.

SNAIL MAIL – Creating a Message Holder - Step Six

Step Six

Use watercolours to paint over the full plate and the 1/2 plate crayon design. The crayon will not mix with the paint and your picture will show through it. This is called crayon resist technique.

SNAIL MAIL – Creating a Message Holder - Step Seven

Step Seven

Place the 1/2 plate on top of the whole plate to form a pocket. Use a bodkin and yarn to sew the two pieces together using any stitching pattern you prefer. Tie a loop with yarn at the top for hanging the holder.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Create a 3-dimensional message holder;
  2. Use contrast to create areas of emphasis;
  3. Use the elements of design to communicate their ideas;
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment; and
  5. Support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


  1. Have students attach their message holders to their desks, or in a central location. Encourage them to write kind messages and questions to each other.
  2. Have students make crayon resist postcards and use them to write messages to each other to be placed in their message holders.
  3. Have students make small watercolour greeting cards and use them to write messages to each other to be placed in the message holders.


  1. Gather required art materials.
  2. Gather some books about writing and sending mail, for example, A Letter to Amy, by Ezra Jack Keats, Dear Annie, by Judith Caseley, Dear Mr. Blueberry, by Simon James, The Jolly Postman, by Allan Ahlberg, Dear Juno, by Soyung Pak, and Dear Bear, by Joanna Harrison
  3. Download the Elements of Design posters available on this website.


  1. Place students into small groups so they can share materials.
  2. Read one or more of the stories about sending messages. Ask students about ways people send messages today. Discuss what it feels like to send and receive a message, such as a birthday invitation or Valentine's card.
  3. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a 3-dimensional message holder.
  2. Use contrast to draw attention to different parts of your design.
  3. Use the elements of design to show your ideas.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Demonstrate how to measure to find the centre of the paper plate. 
  2. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan. 
  3. Once students have measured and cut the plates encourage them to think about what they want to communicate in their design for the message holder. Ask them to make a few planning drawings before starting to colour.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - Compare their work and describe to each other what they wanted to communicate in their design.
    - Tell each other how they got specific effects.
    - Talk about what was difficult and what was easy for them.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask them 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. (Download - MESSAGE_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - MESSAGE_self-assessment.pdf)