This is a list of art techniques that I have found useful for making Storyline friezes.  This list was complied at various Storyline classes and workshops.


1.            painted paper with tempera on butcher paper

- try using colored background paper

2.            crayon resist

3.            sponge paint on butcher paper or painted paper

4.            Seurat or VanGogh dots and lines

5.            rubbings

6.            color with crayon then crunch and wrinkle

7.            chalk on black paper

8.            tissue paper with starch

9.            cellophane

10.            3D

- using table to extend frieze

- extending things out from the frieze

- hanging things from ceiling in front of frieze

11.            torn paper

12.            mosaic with cut or torn paper

13.            papier mache

14.            wrapping paper

15.            photographs

16.            tyvek

18.            collage

19.            water color alone or with salt

20.            starch with Qtips on black or dark paper

21.            tempera paint with pastel texture

22.            printing

23.            wall paper

24.            splatter for texture

25.            painted bed sheets

26.            box  models

27.            home depot plaster

28.            powdered tempera

29.            liquid wall paper paste

30.            roofing paper

31.            painting both sides of the paper

32.            crumpled paper

33.            velum/onion skin

34.            raffia

35.            liquid hand soap plus tempera

*Various combinations of the above

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Prepared for the Storyline International Conference

August 2009 – Colleen Vallerga



*       What makes a dynamic frieze?

*       Framing the Story

*       Art Lessons

*       Building the Knowledge Base

*       Key Questions/Detail Questions

*        Setting Criteria

*       Grouping Students

*       Art Techniques

*       Frieze DVD


1.       What makes a dynamic frieze?

*Frieze has main idea/topic is clear

*Kid generated/reflects kid ideas

*Pre-taught lessons support development

*Art work critiqued/revised

*Elements of art and design are incorporated

as well as a variety of media

*Frieze is interactive and flexible


2. Framing The Story

Gabriella’s Song by Candace Fleming

How can we design a meaningful frieze for this topic?

What is the central theme?

What should the focal point and or main idea of the frieze be?

Where do the characters live?

What part do the characters take in the setting?

How does the setting draw the characters into the context of the story?

How will the incidents occur on the frieze?

How would it look through the eyes of a child?

What part does the teacher take in shaping the frieze?

The Art of Display  (main idea/theme)

3.       Art Lessons

Elements of Art                           Elements of Design

line                                             repetition

shape                                     variation

color                                             proximity

texture                                    focal point



light and dark


4.       Building the Knowledge Base

Read alouds–Venice.  Poetry.  Nonfiction writing.

Students bring items from home.

Key Question

What makes Venice a special place?


Explore nonfiction books about Venice.  List things on chart paper that make Venice                         a special place.  Read Author’s Note at the beginning of the book, and add new                         information about Venice to chart paper.


What do we know about the history of Venice, Italy?

How old is it?

How was it built?


Brainstorm and list ideas.  See videos/DVDs about Venice.  Encourage students to                         bring books and information from home.  Read books about Venice history.  Research             and record information on chart paper.

Writing:  Venice Italy Facts


What is an interesting fact you learned about Venice?

What more can you tell about it?


Review facts of Venice on chart paper.  Have each student pick a fact to write                         about.  Set criteria.  Have students share their fact with the class.


Venice, Italy:  Facts

Appendix Three:  Writing and Poetry (pages 59-60)



How can we say, in a few words, how special and beautiful Venice is?

What are some describing words we can use?


Brainstorm describing words and list on chart paper.

Brainstorm a list of Venice words to use.  Keep this list to use for future writing                         projects. Have students create an acrostic poem and a poem of similes about Venice. 

Set criteria.  Have students share their poems with the class.


5. Key Questions/Detail Questions

What key questions will we use?

Brainstorm and list possible questions.  Discuss reasoning.

What detailed questions will we ask?

*View (do not read) pages 1 -14 of text.  Stop before the composer appears at the piano.  (Pages can be projected to screen on a document camera.)

Key Question

What does Gabriella’s Venice look like?


View pictures of Venice in Gabriella’s Song. List details on chart paper.  Add details                         from Venice books and other resources that were shared.  Teacher sketches student                         ideas on chart paper. Teacher and students generate criteria for homes, church and                         opera  house.

Homes:  Sample Criteria

1.         long rectangular shapes

2.         tile roof

3.         4-5 windows on each building (choose one window shape)

4.         front door (choose shape)

5.         address plate

6.         chimney

7.         shutters, window boxes, and balcony are all optional

Church:  Sample Criteria

1.         wider shape than homes

2.         bell tower

3.         tile roof

4.         large entry doors with half round shapes at the top


What colors are the buildings in Venice?

How can we mix these colors?

What size will our homes and church be?


Identify and create paint colors, doing a color mixing lesson.  Make a decision on                         the size of the homes and church and cut butcher paper to size.  Have students work                         in groups to draw and paint buildings using their prototypes and developed criteria.                          Create a total of 6 to 7 homes, a church, and an opera house.


What else do we want to include in our setting of Venice?

What famous place would we like to include ?


Brainstorm a list of additional details to include in setting.

Sample brainstorm:  Grade One

water, gondolas with pole markers, canals, bridges, cobblestone walkways, store                            window (for bakery on first floor of a home), hanging laundry, towers, stairs, flag, pigeons,                   flower boxes

Make a group decision on a famous place to include in background.

Examples of famous places:

The Grand Canal, St. Mark’s Cathedral, Rialto Bridge, The Campanile, etc.

In pairs, students draw prototypes of Venice, including the homes, church, and opera house

they just created plus additional details that were brainstormed.  Prototypes are shared.  A                   best parts list is created.  Teacher works with students to sketch the final prototype on                   chart paper for students to use while creating the frieze.


How will we size the canals, cobblestones, etc. so they will blend with the houses?

What colors will we use?


Estimate sizes of the new frieze additions and mix colors for each item.  Plan                         student groupings (canals, bridges, towers, cobblestones, etc.)   Students create                         additional details for setting.  Teacher works with students to put the parts together                         on the frieze, using the final prototype as a model.


6.       Setting Criteria


How does it look?

Does it meet our criteria?

What can we add/delete?


7.       Grouping Students

How do you group students when they are working on the frieze.

What about students who are done?

How can parents help?

How can individual student ideas enhance the whole?


8.       Art Techniques


framing/display techniques


9. Frieze DVD

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1.          What is the Story?

What does life look like for the characters in the story?

*Find a story that allows for rich character development  and valuable curriculum study.  The story should have a setting in which the characters can be active, have a purpose, and develop as the story moves along.  The story should be age appropriate for students.

*What will the characters be doing?

Examples.  The characters will be:

Designers———————- Creating an art museum

Trainees————————Training to be Junior Park Rangers

Students————————-Attending music school in Venice

Sailors————————–Journeying to the Davis Straits for whales

Scientists———————Studying the rainforest

People of the Past————-Living as Native Americans in the 1500’s

Publishers———————-Creating a publishing company.



2.         The Narrative

*Write a simple narrative of the story that includes character roles.

*Keep the story simple and clear so students are able to understand the story and their character’s unique life in the setting.


3.         What do the people look like?

*Note physical characteristics, clothing, etc. Pay attention to detail.

*Set criteria for creation of characters unique to the setting of the story.


4. What will your name be? Who are you? How are you unique?

*Guide students as they select unique names for their characters.  Simple names that can be remembered, work best.  Use the setting and the story to guide the choices.  Some Storylines allow for names that set personality traits.  Example:  Native American—Curious Mouse

*Set criteria for biographies that allows for personality development.

Best traits/worst traits, People will tell you that I’m…, etc.

*Students can draw character traits out of a hat, to portray in their character.

*Teacher creates a character to model assuming a different personality and developing it.

*In some Storylines, families can be created.  Families provide another layer for character development.


5.         Who lives in our land?

*Have each student introduce their character.

*Post characters in the room and/or on the frieze to keep them visible and active in the setting.

*After characters are created, instigate activities that allow characters to get to know each other.

Memory game, Willaby Wallaby Woo, Who’s Missing, etc.


6.         Getting in Character

*When students enter the classroom, the teacher puts on her name tag and speaks in character.  Students know to get their name tags on and switch to Storyline time.

*Lights can be turned off to signal time for Storyline characters.

*Teacher and/or students can wear an article of clothing from the Storyline milieu.

*Only Storyline names are used during this time.


7.         Keeping Characters Alive:  Incidents

*Design Storyline activities/incidents that are in the context of the story so the characters can interact from their character’s point of view.

*Design activities for active character development.

*Vary character experiences as life in the setting is varied.


7 Intelligences








*Give characters opportunities to solve problems in a variety of ways and             in a variety of groupings.


Bloom’s Taxonomy







*Vary character groupings.

whole class, small groups, partners, individuals.


8. Writing

*Design writing activities that allow for character development and reflection.

*Some writing activities can be done in context of the Storyline and some in a morning loop lesson.

*With each writing activity, include criteria for voice/personality development.

Example:  Curious Mouse questions her world.

*Have students share their writing to build community and foster character development.


Colleen Vallerga   2009