LEARNING: Students learn about how graphic designers can advocate through design: they learn about water problems around the world (pollution, access, and overuse), and look at and analyze ways that graphic designers have brought attention to this issue through their design.

CREATING: Students choose an issue that they feel strongly about and become graphic designers; they design a poster simplifying their issue into an easily digestible poster using the elements of movement, emphasis, and balance.

CONNECTING: This project is part of our ‘Art & Literacy Curriculum’. You are welcome to use it independently, and it is easily adaptable to use across multiple grades. However, it was designed to support the topic ‘water’, which is often found in 3rd grade ELA curricula. Text sets and vocab are pulled for 3rd and 5th grade students.

Scope & Sequence:


“I chose my topic because I love animals and I noticed in the shelter that there were a lot more animals in the shelter than I originally thought. Animals are like humans. They need homes that can care for them and give them what they need to survive.”


Age 8, Ann Arbor, MI

Lesson 1: SW learn about how Charity:Water is using graphic design to advocate for water quality and access in rural areas. Students work in groups of 3-4, analyze effective poster design, and mock-up a poster advocating a solution to a water-related problem.

Note: Students will have enough information at hand to complete this project in one day using the provided facts.  Teachers can opt to allow students time to find their own water facts through books and websites, but will then need to provide additional work-time.

Lesson 2: SW learn about simplicity in messaging, then brainstorm and sketch a poster illustration and message for a topic that is meaningful to them.

Note: if the class is working on a water unit, or students are doing persuasive speeches, the educator might want to consider deepening the learning being done in the classroom by limiting students to a specific advocacy topic rather than letting them choose their own.

Lesson 3: SW learn how to simplify objects into shapes, create a mockup, and using shape templates begin to draw their poster on watercolor paper.

Lesson 4: Students learn how designers use color to emphasize important areas in their design, then begin to paint their poster.

Lesson 5: SW have a fifth day entirely for finishing and refining work.

Optional: Optional final day to work on and complete project

(you can preview the first lesson in a project without enrolling by clicking on ‘lesson 1’ above).


The above will take you to a supply list that assumes a class size of 30. Adjust according to your needs. 

The above will take you to a list of core texts, as well as a text set. More information is included in the link. 

List of Tier 2 & 3 vocabulary

Art Elements:

shape/form, color

Art Principles:

movement, balance, emphasis


SL.3.1b, SL.3.2, SL.3.1c , SL.3.4,  W.3.2d, W.3.1b,  W.3.2b


VA:Cr1.1.3a, VA:Cr1.2.3a, VA:Cr3.1.5a, VA:Re.7.1.3a, VA:Re.7.2.3a, VA:Re8.1.3a, VA:Re9.1.3a, VA:Re8.1.1a

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