Friday, May 25, 2012

Peter Max Artist Lesson for Grades 3 - 6

This is a lesson about the artist, Peter Max. I like this lesson for 3rd graders up to 6th graders. This is harder for the littler kids to really get into, but older kids LOVE doing this one. Here is my lesson plan:

  • First, talk to the kids about: Who is Peter Max?  He was an artist whose work got popular in the 1960‘s.  Ask them, "what comes to mind when you think about the 60's?" You may get "peace signs!", "Hippies!", etc. Then you can talk about his imagery that he used that spoke to this time period.
  •  Talk about how Peter Max did things like album covers, posters for concerts and events, and other illustrations. Ask the kids, "What is the difference between an illustrator and other kinds of artists?" Explain: Illustrators create art from other people’s ideas, fine artists create art from their own. Illustrators get paid by other people  to make their ideas come alive, visually.  Children’s books, magazines, product packaging, etc., all use illustrators to tell a story. 
  • Show examples of Peter Max's work in a computer slideshow. Ask kids to hold their comments until the end of the presentation, but to be thinking about what do all of these pictures have in common? What do you notice that keeps showing up in a lot of these pictures? How do we know it’s the same artist? At the end, take comments from kids and talk about Peter Max's style and how it is unique.  Hopefully the kids notice these things: He made lots of heavy outlines in black. Stars. sun rays. doves. people. neon. BRIGHT and FLAT colors. 
  • Mention: He was interested in astronomy (study of the cosmos) and so thats why he had lots of stars and planets in his art. 
Explain the procedure for the project: First, do pencil drawings. They must include a sun and/or stars in a composition that is mostly sky. Then, outline everything in black sharpie. Color everything in with markers and highlighters.

These are what some of my kids have come up with. They turned out amazing, I think!!! I LOVE doing this project. The kids get SO into this. I think Peter Max's style lends itself perfectly to kids projects. 

I hope some of you out there can use this lesson plan and enjoy!

Stars and sun rays,



  1. Aw these are so beautiful and colorful! Kids can be so creative!

  2. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing! Wanna try this with my kiddos in a timely manner with his birthday next month.