Matisse Inspired Name Panels


This lesson was discovered on the Incredible Art Department website. This lesson was submitted by Michelle Peacock of Mohave Middle School. Thanks Michelle for sharing!

This is a perfect lesson to do with fifth graders at the beginning of the school year: it reinforces names with faces and gets the children warmed up with cutting, pasting, color and composition. I have many posters of Matisse’s artwork for inspiration, but if you don’t, simply talk about how cutting paper can express movement and emotion.

What you’ll need:

  • 6″ x 18″ sulphite paper (regular paper cut in half horizontally)
  • Scraps of colored paper (solids, crafts, printed, etc)
  • Scissors and glue sticks


Give each child a piece of white construction paper. On each table, place scissors and glue sticks (regular white glue is too messy for this project). At the back of the art room, arrange scrap paper in tin foil trays.

Note: This is also a great project to do towards the end of the school year when your recycled paper box is very full.

Instruct the students to cut out the letters in their name plus something that is unique to them. I demonstrated that by reducing a large sheet of paper to a smaller rectangle or square. This way, the letters are easier to cut out. This can be a challenging lesson, and many kids will balk at not using a pencil, but don’t give in! I think being encouraged to “see” the shape and cutting it is beneficial. Of course, I stress that any shape, size or style is perfect.

We discussed the benefits of cutting all letters out first, then the back ground shapes and playing with the arrangement before gluing. Some kids will rush this part then be caught having to pull up their letters.

5th Grade Gallery


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  • voice

    Thank you so much for your blog. As a new art teacher (who just sort of fell into this position), you have no idea how many avenues of art making you are creating for my students. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  • Patty P

    Glad I can help. I started this blog for my student’s and their parents but it has morphed into a blog mostly for art teachers. Good luck with your new job!

  • julie

    What a great project! I love Matisse and I love how colorful they are!

  • Anonymous

    When completing this assignment with 4th and 5th grade students, I encouraged them to morph their letters into significant images.
    "J" become a fishing hook, "i" become a paint brush, etc. Their work was displayed with the questiion, "Who am I?"

  • Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog

    As a homeschooling mom, this site is proving to be full of great ideas. Thanks!

  • Jenny

    I just did this activity with my 7-9 year old class, they LOVED it and really made their choices of colours and shapes reflect themselves. They also got creative and went 3D with their paper, adding a whole new dimension. Thanks so much! Can I email you some pictures of their work?

    • Patty

      Yes! I’d love to see them. Email is on home page. Thanks Jenny!

  • J Williams

    After creating our fantastic dancers, my class were so enthusiastic to start this more personal artwork. Another great success, thank you for sharing it with us all, as we all know teaching is all about the sharing of ideas.

  • desertsage83@gmail.com

    What ages do you think this art lesson would be fun for? besides 5th grade? I am a K-6 grade art teacher.

    • Patty

      4th Grade and above. It can be tricky cutting letters for younger kids.. Enjoy!

  • Bert Nunn

    Can’t wait to try several of the Matisse- like projects…thank you from a “non-artist” teacher.

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