Term 2, Week 1: Intro to Graphic Design

While the Prep classes got a refresher in using Adobe Voice, the Grade 1-6s had an introduction to the new topic for this term, Graphic Design. I’m still working out the beats for the unit this term – which I will post about in due course, but for now, this is how I ran with the intro.


I had a PowerPoint for the most part for this, as I asked the kids what they knew about Graphic Design. Most of the answers i got had something to do with making designs on computers, which was interesting. Everyone assumed it was a modern vocation, where in fact the art of laying out images and text to communicate an idea has been around long before computers. Indeed, it stretches back to the time we lived in caves and drew pictures on the walls to tell a story.

Much of my lesson here came from the excellent course on Lynda.com on Graphic Design by Justin Seeley which you can find here. He does an excellent job of covering the fundamentals and the basics. I didn’t cover everything he did in his introduction, but I did cover a little history looking back on the invention of paper, Gutenberg’s movable type pressĀ andĀ the Macintosh computer as key moments in the life of modern graphic design.

I talked about how Graphic Design encompasses three main skill sets – visual art, typography and page layout. I showed them a poster where I explained how most fonts fall into two catagories: serif and sans-serif and what that means.

font types

We looked at how matching fonts and matching colours are key design choices. We looked at different kinds of media art – such as advertisements, movie posters, infographics and logos.

I also brought in a very precious book I had in grade four – The Lettering Book. I don’t know if this is something purely from Australia, or worldwide, but before computers, this was the go-to book for design ideas for making posters.

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Finally we had this discussion about classroom posters. I confessed that in all my years of teaching, the posters kids come up with on their own are by-and-large not very good. Some are messy, some are random, and some are just plain confusing. I told them that this was not their fault, because in all their years of schooling, not one teacher would have thought of sitting them down for a class to teach them how to make a poster. We just expect that they can do it. And in some respects, posters are easy. Stick some stuff on a cardboard sheet – done! That doesn’t mean that the poster is any good.

I always came back to the idea that Graphic Design is about visual communication. If your message is unclear, it doesn’t matter about the glittery border, or the fancy fonts. It fails as a poster.

I had a short activity for the kids to do at the end which was to take a sketch book and design a poster. To come up with a plan of how the poster should look, and what it needed, before you go into the cupboard and pick your favourite colour cardboard.

This is one of the examples I modelled for the kids. In my case, I used an iPad mirrored to my TV using the app – Explain Everything.


The boxes with crosses are the pictures. The boxes with lines are for text. I encouraged them to be creative in their designs, but not lose sight of the fact that it needs to flow and make sense. Here are some of the more interesting designs I got from them.

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Haven’t exactly decided what’s happening next week, but you can be sure I will let you know!