Name of Project: Let’s be Scribes!

Grade Level or Age of Participant: 5th Grade

School, Teacher, and Classroom: Whittier International IB School, Jenny Kraft’s 5th Grade class

MCAD Teaching Artist:  Iris Monahan

Visual Arts Content or Standards

Visual Arts

Strand: Artistic Foundations

Standard: Demonstrate knowledge and use of the technical skills of the art form, integrating technology when applicable.

Benchmark: Describe the tools, materials and techniques used in a variety of two- and three-dimensional media such as drawing, printmaking, ceramics or sculpture.

Visual Arts

Strand: Artistic Foundations

Standard: Demonstrate understanding of the personal, social, cultural and historical contexts that influence the arts areas

Benchmark: Describe the personal, social, cultural, or historical contexts that influence the creation of visual artworks including the contributions of Minnesota American Indian tribes and communities.

Overview of Project

Students will collaboratively rewrite their classroom agreements/constitution using ink-lettering techniques that connect to various historical skills and trades involving hand-lettering text. This is a chance for students to simulate the creation of the founding documents or other curriculum relevant texts. Students will individually work to hand letter or illustrate sections of the class document that can be assembled into a collective manuscript.

“Big Ideas”/ Essential QUESTION(s)

How does using different tools, methods, and skills affect one’s relationship to the product.

How does traditionally scripting handwriting text effect the understanding and the relationship between the text and those who make and view it?

Student Outcome Objectives

1. Students will identify the significance of important documents in US History.

2. Students will create hand drawn text informed by traditional manuscript letterforms

3. Students will experiment with and implement new materials that support their understanding of the significance of hand writing text and its content.

Prior Knowledge

Students will need some experience with cursive and handwriting. Students who have completed US History lessons in which they analyzed hand written documents such as the Constitution and Bill of Rights will be able to better appreciate the class content of lesson.

 Examples of Artwork

Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights via.

Chi-Ro page from the Book of Kells via

Additional Resources



Students who have completed quality work will be able to contribute a legible, artistic, and carefully drawn contribution to the class document. Their works will be the result of diligent consistent efforts during the work period to craft lettering that is more than simple printing. Class will evaluate document as a whole and discuss how contributing to it in this was affects their relationship with the text.


-1 pad of 11*14 inch Bristol, students used cropped sheets that are 2.75*14 inches. Teachers may also draw reference lines on strips to help guide size of letters.

-India ink and water mix in 1:1 ratio – WATER SOLUBLE INK PREFERABLE

-Nibs and nib holders as well as artist quality calligraphy pens

-Pencils and erasers

-Enough lines of text for each student to script. Preferably from class created document. Lines should be fairly brief, though given additional paper and work time students may complete whole sentences. Specific text is printed and available for each student.

Learning Activities and Timing

Prep: teacher will assemble drawing materials on table to hand out later.

1. 10 minutes – Students will assemble around projector for brief introduction to hand lettering and the associated tools.  This introduction should include high-resolution images of different examples of script. Teacher will use classroom’s document camera in order to project demo as it is in progress.

2. 5 minutes – students will receive demo on dip pen and drawing pen methods of lettering. This will primarily focus on how best told hold and draw with pen, and how to successfully dip the pen in ink.

3. Students will randomly select lines from handouts of the class document and go to their work spaces.

4. 10 minutes – students will create a pencil guide for lettering on 5.5 * 14 inch Bristol paper and check in with teacher before beginning inking. At this time they MUST write their name on lower left hand corner of paper. Students are advised that they should show they are ready for their ink and pens when they have word penciled and workspaces clean. Teacher will distribute materials and remind students of the best way to dip pens in order to keep their workspace and clothes clean.

5. 30 minutes – students will ink letters with guidance from teachers. They are encouraged to ink slowly. During this time teacher will go to each table to insure that students are using pens as shown in demo, and re-demo processes as needed to ensure student success.

6. S Work will be collected by teachers and laid out to dry. Pen nibs should be rinsed and allowed to dry in order to prevent rust.

Student Work